Egypt Between 1950s and 1970’s

Egypt Between 1950s and 1970’s

The 1950s had seen the affirmation of the figure, work and myth of ‛Aled en-Nāṣer, champion of an Egyptian-led pan-Arabism. The victory in the Suez crisis of 1956, due to Soviet and American support, the union with Syria in 1958 and that (which remained nominal) with Yemen, seemed to spur the steps towards the formation of the United Arab States under the leadership of the prestigious leader Egyptian. But the following decade must have reserved for him and his country painful developments. Already in 1961 the United Arab Republic ceased to exist, except in a meticulous survival of nomenclature, due to Syrian secession. Neither the active further intervention of Egypt in the internal affairs of Syria and ‛Irāq, still relying on the Nasserian myth, he managed to bring together the many times longed for unity. Even more negative was the Egyptian armed intervention in Yemen (starting from 1962), in support of the republican revolution of as-Sallāl, which had risen against the Zaydite imamate: the long, exhausting Followitan guerrillas, saw the monarchist faction still resist long, and eventually yielding the field to the Republicans, without this entailing any significant gain, of direct influence and prestige, for Egypt,

But the major card of Nasserian politics continued to be played against Israel throughout the decade, stirring up the religious and national sentiment of the whole Arab world towards the enemy intruder.

The crisis of the spring of 1967 (six-day war, June 5-10), perhaps not entirely wanted and orchestrated by the Egyptian dictator, nevertheless had a disastrous outcome for Egypt and for the prestige of its leader, who with the closure of the Gulf of ‘Aqaba and the forced withdrawal of the United Nations forces from the Gaza Strip had given Israel the justification for the lightning-fast pre-emptive attack. For Egypt 1996, please check

Faced with the disaster of the loss of Sinai and the near-annihilation of the Egyptian armed forces, Nāṣer first resigned, but then agreed to remain in the direction of the state, concentrating in his hands the office of President of the Republic, President of the Council and Secretary General of the ‘Arab Socialist Union (the single Egyptian party). Upon his sudden death (September 1970), Egypt he was under the material and moral weight of a military defeat, economically exhausted despite Soviet aid, and subjected to a harsh police regime. The convulsive and impulsive work of ‘Aled en-Nāṣer, although animated by an idealistic selflessness, had failed.

The successor of the late dictator, Anwar as-Sādāt, immediately showed, even in formal homage and in the alleged continuity with the aims of war and peace of his predecessor, a much greater flexibility and political prudence. Internally, cautious liberalization gave the country some respite. In foreign policy, the political and technical support of the Soviet Union was resolutely balanced by the jealous reaffirmation of Egyptian sovereignty, arriving (1971) at the request for a recall of all Russian military and technical advisers. At the same time, the claim to leadership diminished Egypt on the rest of the Arab world, and proposals for further unions and mergers were thwarted, such as that of the dynamic Gaddafī for a union between Libya and Egypt. But the Palestinian problem weighed heavily on the internal life of Egypt as on the other neighboring Arab states. And in the autumn of 1973, in agreement with Syria, the solution of arms was once again attempted.

The “Kippūr War”, with the double surprise attack of the two Arab countries against Israel, finally gave Egypt, rearmed by the Soviets but also prepared spiritually for the test, the possibility of erasing the painful memories of 1967, and of achieving some successes in a partial recovery of the Sinai, of considerable importance, rather than strategic, political and moral. Although the Israeli counter-offensive had brought the enemy to real Egyptian soil on this side of the Canal, breaking the myth of Israel’s invincibility had a strengthening effect on the country, and allowed Sādāt to subsequently welcome, under pressure and the United Nations, the armistice and then the disengagement on the Sinai, a prelude to peace negotiations. The just convened Geneva conference stopped in the bud, but the truce of arms on the Canal and on the Sinai stabilized allowing the development of tenacious diplomatic action. The repeated trips of the American Secretary of State Kissinger to the Near East established and sealed a climate of personal trust and friendship between him and Sādāt, which culminated in the re-establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. From the absolute intransigence of Nāṣer, Egypt thus passed, on the Palestinian problem, to a possibility no less than that previously contested against Jordan, and which favorable circumstances could further advance. In 1975, in fact, Sādāt reopened the Suez Canal; at the end of 1976, in close collaboration with Syria, he confirmed solidarity with Syria’s action in the Lebanese crisis, and the readiness for a global negotiated solution to the Palestinian problem. While the tension with Libya worsened, the coincidence of views with the USA was reiterated through a visit by Foreign Minister I. Fahmi to Washington (September 1977). A month later, economic policy and international relations considerations suggested a government reshuffle: after the resignation of the Ministers of Planning and Industry, an agreement was signed with Ford and confirmed the refusal to repay credits to the USSR. Finally, direct relations were established with Israel: Sādāt’s sensational visit to Tel Aviv (November 1977), harshly criticized by other Arab states, expressed the remarkable openness of current Egyptian politics.

Egypt Between 1950s and 1970's

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