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History Book: The Oslo Accords turn 30


WORLD Radio - History Book: The Oslo Accords turn 30

Plus, a Christian army defeats Muslim Ottomans at Vienna 318 years before the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center

President Clinton presides over the signing of the peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, left, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, right, in Washington, Sept. 13, 1993. Associated Press/Photo by Ron Edmonds, File

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, September 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next, the WORLD History Book. Today: the 22nd anniversary of 9-11. But first, 340 years ago, a defeat that sets the stage for centuries of bitterness and conflict.

Here’s WORLD Radio executive producer Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER: We begin today on September 11th, 1683, in the city of Vienna. For nearly two months the city has been under siege. A large Ottoman army of more than 150,000 soldiers surround the city. Their commander is Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa.

The Ottoman Empire had attempted to conquer the city 150 years earlier, and failed. Kara Mustafa is back at the gateway to the Holy Roman Empire to try again.

In the months leading up to Kara Mustafa’s attack, the city had done what it could to quickly improve its fortifications. It also sent delegates to surrounding states appealing for armed assistance. As the Ottoman Empire forces drew near, many of Vienna’s citizens fled…. leaving only about 11,000 trained soldiers and 5,000 volunteers behind to defend the city and wait for reinforcements.

Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa loses many men in the 2-month siege, but by September 10th, his diminished—yet still substantial army—is just hours away from breaching the wall and gaining access to the city. Relief forces have begun arriving and take up positions on the high ground less than 10 miles away…they are awaiting the arrival of Polish King John III Sobieski and his 3,000 member cavalry known as the “Winged Hussars.” Their delay means there’s a large gap in the line.

Kara Mustafa makes a strategic error that not only loses the battle, but marks the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire’s dominance in Europe. Historian Matthias Pfaffenblicher spoke with the Discovery Channel in 2016.

MATTHIAS PFAFFENBLICHER: He didn’t concentrate all his troops in defending his camp against the attacking relief army but continued the assault of the city because it was so close for the fall. So he divided his force.

When Sobieski and his mercenary cavalry do show up, they rout the Ottoman detachment. The Winged Hussars along with 15,000 other horse mounted forces throw themselves upon the rest of Mustafa’s army. It is the largest known cavalry charge in Europe’s history. Kara Mustafa and his army flee the field. Vienna is saved.

The battle marks the first time a largely united Christian Europe cooperates militarily against the Ottomans. Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa chooses not to counter attack. He returns home in shame where he is executed and beheaded.

In 2001, Journalist Christopher Hitchens suggested that this defeat of the Ottoman army in 1683 may have inspired al-Qaeda to choose the date it did to attack the Twin Towers on September 11th…

Next, 30 years ago this week, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and U.S. President Bill Clinton gather for a signing ceremony at the White House.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Today we bear witness to an extraordinary act...

On September 13th, 1993, President Clinton announces a peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians commonly referred to as the “Oslo Accords.”

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Ever since Harry Truman first recognized Israel, every American President, Democrat and Republican, has worked for peace between Israel and her neighbors.

That includes President Jimmy Carter, who hosted Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978 at Camp David. The Carter administration helped broker a roadmap for peace between the two nations. Now 15 years later, President Bill Clinton seems poised to build on that in the Oslo Accords.

In this agreement, Israel accepts the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians. The PLO renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel’s right to exist in peace.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: The children of Abraham…have embarked together on a bold journey. Together today, with all our hearts and all our souls, we bid them shalom, salaam, peace. (APPLAUSE)

The goals of the Oslo Accords are never fully realized. In fact, by the time President Clinton leaves office, the peace process falls apart. Nearly every administration since has tried to pick up where he left off.

The Arab world’s reaction to both the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Accords set the stage for our last entry today.

NEWSCAST: We're joined by the entire network just to show you some pictures at the foot of New York City…

September 11th, 2001, 19 Islamic extremists hijack four different planes. Two of them fly into New York’s Twin Towers. One crashes into the Pentagon. Another goes down in a Pennsylvania field. By 11am, nearly 3000 people are dead.


A year later, al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden publishes his “Letter to America.” In it he blames US interference in the Middle East, America’s policy toward Israel, and the Iraq war as partial justification for the attack.

While bin Laden approved the plot and helped fund it, the mastermind is actually Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—a high-ran king member of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden insider.

NEWSCAST: He's one of the biggest catches in the war on terror…

The CIA—working with Pakistan's intelligence agency—capture Mohammed on March 1st, 2003 while he sleeps.

He’s brought to Guantanamo Bay. U.S. led investigations use “persuasive interrogation techniques” to extract information. He confesses to planning the 9/11 attacks and more than 30 other plots. Waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques come under fire—US officials argue that the ends justify the means if it prevents further attacks.

NEWSCAST: The man who boasted of planning the 9 11 attacks on America has finally appeared…

In 2008, a U.S. military commission charges Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with war crimes and the murder of almost 3000 people. The prosecution seeks the death penalty.

NEWSCAST: Pentagon officials are considering plea agreements for several defendants suspected of plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Last month, the Pentagon and FBI advised many 9/11 families that the government was considering plea deals to bring an end to the more than decade-long prosecution. But the Biden Administration announced Friday that it has rejected the plan.

That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Paul Butler.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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