THE BIG READ: Anwar El Sadat, A martyr of peace
Friday, October 17, 2008
Muhammad Anwar Al Sadat (Mu_ammad Anwar as-S_d_t) (25 December 1918 - 6 October 1981) was the third President of Egypt, serving from 15 October 1970 until his assassination on 6 October 1981. He was a senior member of the Free Officers group that overthrew the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, and a close confidant of Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom he succeeded as President in 1970.
In his eleven years as president he changed Egypt 's direction, departing from some of the economic and political principles of Nasserism by reinstituting the multi-party system and launching the Infitah. His leadership in the October War of 1973 and the regaining Sinai made him an Egyptian hero. His visit to Israel and the eventual Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty won him the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience award September 11, 1991 posthumously, but was an act enormously unpopular with the Arab world and Islamists, and resulted in Egypt being expelled from the Arab League.
According to the story, a British soldier is killed. Zahran was the first Egyptian hanged in retribution for the soldier's death. Stories like the Ballad of Zahran introduced Sadat to Egyptian nationalism, a value he held throughout his life. He graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Cairo in 1938 and was appointed in the Signal Corps. He entered the army as a second lieutenant and was posted in Sudan ( Egypt and Sudan were one country at the time). There, he met Gamal Abdel Nasser, and along with several other junior officers they formed the secret Free Officers Movement committed to freeing Egypt from British domination and royal corruption.
During the Second World War he was imprisoned by the British for his efforts to obtain help from the Axis Powers in expelling the occupying British forces. Along with his fellow Free Officers, Sadat participated in the military coup known as the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 which overthrew King Farouk I. After the coup, he was assigned to take over the radio networks to announce the news of the revolution to the Egyptian people.
During the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Sadat was appointed Minister of State in 1954. In 1959, he assumed the position of Secretary to the National Union. Sadat was the President of the National Assembly (1960-1968) and then vice president and member of the Presidential Council in 1964. He was reappointed as vice president again in December 1969.
After Nasser 's death in 1970, Sadat succeeded him as President, but it was widely considered that his presidency would be short-lived. Viewing him as having been little more than a puppet of the former President, Nasser 's supporters in government settled on Sadat as someone they could easily manipulate. Nasser's supporters were well satisfied for six months until Sadat instituted The Corrective Revolution and purged Egypt of most of its other leaders and other elements of the Nasser era.
In 1971, Sadat endorsed in a letter the peace proposals of UN negotiator Gunnar Jarring which seemed to lead to a full peace with Israel on the basis of Israel 's withdrawal to its pre-war borders. This peace initiative failed as neither the United States nor Israel accepted the terms as discussed then.
Sadat likely perceived that Israel 's desire to negotiate was directly correlated to how much of a military threat they perceived from Egypt , which, after the Six-Day War of 1967, was at an all time low. Israel also viewed the most substantial part of the Egyptian threat as the presence of Soviet equipment and personnel (in the thousands at this time). It was for those reasons that Sadat expelled the Soviet military advisers from Egypt and proceeded to whip his army into shape for a renewed confrontation with Israel .
On 6 October 1973, in conjunction with Hafez al-Assad of Syria, Sadat launched the October War, known in Israel as the Yom Kippur War, a surprise attack to recapture occupied Sinai. The Egyptian performance in the initial stages of the war (see The Crossing) astonished both Israel and the Arab World as Egyptian forces pressed approximately 15 km into the Sinai Peninsula beyond the Bar Lev Line. This line is popularly thought to have been an impregnable defensive chain. Indeed the Egyptian performance was highly praised by Jewish American military strategist Edward Luttwak in an article that appeared in the Jerusalem Post in the wake of the 2006 Lebanon War:
"...hundreds of Israeli tanks were damaged or destroyed by brave Egyptian infantrymen with their hand-carried missiles and rockets....In 1973, after crossing the Suez Canal , Egyptian infantrymen by the thousands stood their ground unflinchingly against advancing 50-ton Israeli battle tanks, to attack them successfully with their puny hand-held weapons. They were in the open, flat desert, with none of the cover and protection that Hizbullah had in their fortified bunkers or in Lebanon 's rugged terrain.... Later, within the few square miles of the so-called Chinese farm near the Suez Canal, the Israelis lost more soldiers fighting against the Egyptians in a single day and night than the 116 killed in a month of war in Lebanon - including the victims of vehicle accidents and friendly fire....Hizbullah certainly did not run away and did hold its ground, but its mediocrity is revealed by the casualties it inflicted, which were very few." "
As the war progressed, three divisions of the Israeli army (IDF) led by then General Ariel Sharon had crossed the Suez Canal, encircling the Egyptian Third Army. Prompted by an agreement between the United States and Egypt's Soviet allies, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 338 on 24 October 1973, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
The initial Egyptian and Syrian victories in the war restored popular morale throughout Egypt and the Arab World, and for many years after Sadat was known as the "hero of the Crossing". Israel recognized Egypt as a formidable foe, and Egypt's renewed political significance eventually led to regaining and reopening the Suez Canal through the peace process.
On 19 November 1977, Sadat became the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and spoke before the Knesset in Jerusalem about his views on how to achieve a comprehensive peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which included the full implementation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338. He made the visit after receiving an invitation from Begin and once again sought a permanent peace settlement.
The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty
Both Sadat and Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for creating the treaty. The main features of the agreement were the mutual recognition of each country by the other, the cessation of the state of war that had existed since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the complete withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the rest of the Sinai Peninsula which Israel had captured during the 1967 Six-Day War. The agreement also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and recognition of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways.
The agreement notably made Egypt the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel. The peace agreement between Egypt and Israel has remained in effect since the treaty was signed.
The treaty, which gained wide support among Egyptians was extremely unpopular in the Arab World and the wider Muslim World.] His predecessor Nasser had made Egypt an icon of Arab nationalism, an ideology that appeared to be sidelined by an Egyptian orientation following the 1973 war (see Egypt). By signing the accords, many non-Egyptian Arabs believed Sadat had put Egypt's interests ahead of Arab unity, betraying Nasser's pan-Arabism, and destroyed the vision of a united "Arab front" and elimination of the "Zionist Entity." Sadat's shift towards a strategic relationship with the U.S. was also seen as a betrayal by many. In the United States, his peace moves gained him popularity among some Evangelical circles. He was awarded the Prince of Peace Award by Pat Robertson .
In 1979, the Arab League expelled Egypt in the wake of the Egyptian-Israel peace agreement, and the League moved its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. It was not until 1989 that the League re-admitted Egypt as a member, and returned its headquarters to Cairo.
Many believed that only a threat of force would make Israel negotiate over the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Camp David accords removed the possibility of Egypt, the major Arab military power, from providing such a threat. As part of the peace deal, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula in phases, returning the entire area to Egypt on 25 April 1982.
Unpopularity and conspiracy theories
Near the end of his presidency, most of Sadat's advisors resigned in protest of his internal policies. The deaths of the Defense Minister Ahmed Badawi and 13 senior Egyptian Army officers in a helicopter crash on 6 March 1981 near the Libyan border increased the public anger at Sadat and his policy.
Assassination and aftermath
However, the officers in charge of that procedure were on hajj to Mecca.As air force Mirage jets flew overhead, distracting the crowd, a troop truck halted before the presidential reviewing stand, and a lieutenant strode forward. Sadat stood to receive his salute, whereupon the assassins rose from the truck, throwing grenades and firing assault rifle rounds. The attack lasted about two minutes. The lead assassin Khalid Islambouli shouted "Death to Pharaoh!" as he ran towards the stand and shot Sadat. After he fell to the floor people around Sadat threw chairs on his body to try to protect him from the bullets.
11 others were killed, including the Cuban ambassador and a Coptic Orthodox bishop, and 28 were wounded, including James Tully, the Irish Minister for Defence, and four U.S. military liaison officers. Sadat was then rushed to a hospital, but was declared dead within hours. This was the first time in Egyptian history that the head of state had been assassinated by an Egyptian citizen. Two of the attackers were killed and the others were arrested by military police on-site. Islambouli was later found guilty and was executed in April 1982.
In conjunction with the assassination, an insurrection was organized in Asyut in Upper Egypt. Rebels took control of the city for a few days and 68 policemen and soldiers were killed in the fighting. Government control was not restored until paratroopers from Cairo arrived. Most of the militants convicted of fighting received light sentences and served only three years in prison.
Sadat was succeeded by his vice president Hosni Mubarak, whose hand was injured during the attack. Sadat's funeral was attended by a record number of dignitaries from around the world, including a rare simultaneous attendance by three former U.S. presidents: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon. No Arab heads of state attended the funeral, apart from Sudan's President Gaafar Nimeiry. Only 2 of 24 states in the Arab league sent representatives at all (Somalia and Oman). Sadat was buried in the unknown soldier memorial in Cairo.
Over three hundred Islamic radicals were indicted in the trial of assassin Khalid Islambouli, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, Omar Abdel-Rahman and Abd al-Hamid Kishk. The trial was covered by the international press and Zawahiri's knowledge of English made him the de facto spokesman for the defendants. Zawahiri was released from prison in 1984, before travelling to Afghanistan and forging a close relationship with Osama Bin Laden.
Despite these facts, the nephew of the late President, Talaat al-Sadat, claimed that the assassination was an international conspiracy. On 31 October 2006, he was sentenced to a year in prison for defaming Egypt's armed forces, less than a month after he gave the interview accusing Egyptian generals of masterminding his uncle's assassination. In an interview with a Saudi television channel, he also claimed both the United States and Israel were involved: "No one from the special personal protection group of the late president fired a single shot during the killing, and not one of them has been put on trial," he said.
Media portrayals of Anwar Sadat
The main reason for the miniseries' poor reception in Egypt, however, was the fact that a black man, Gossett, was cast to play the role of the Egyptian president. According to one source, "that bothered race-conscious Egyptians and wouldn't have pleased [the deceased] Sadat."
The two-part series earned Gossett an Emmy nomination in the United States.
"Most people seek after what they do not possess and are enslaved by the very things they want to acquire."
"Peace is much more precious than a piece of land... let there be no more wars."
"There is no happiness for people at the expense of other people."
Address Delivered by Mr. Anwar el Sadat at the First Afro-Asian people's Solidarity Conference, December 26, 1957
More than two years ago twenty nine governments of independent states convened together at the Bandung Conference to declare to the world at large that the tide of history has changed its course, and that Asia and Africa, which hitherto have been common play ground, where trespassers went by unheeded or a forest in which foreign beasts of prey roamed at leisure., have now become free world powers, majestic and serene, with a decisive role in shaping the future of the whole family of Nations. The Conference of Bandung was likewise convened to stress to the peoples of Africa and Asia the great importance of solidarity and the great weight they would have on the trend of world affairs when united. Today this people's Conference of ours meets, partly in honour of the spirit of Bandung and as a reminder of the principles and ideals it stands for, and partly to push it a step forward.
Because our Conference is a Conference of peoples, it has been able to muster, not only the countries recognized by International Law as independent units, but also those peoples whose status is a foregone conclusion, a historical fact, and a reality endorsed by the whole of mankind, in addition to peoples who are still trodden under the heel of imperialism in one form or another. But our Conference takes the interest of these very peoples to heart. They are the diseased organs in the body of Asia and Africa: consequently they stand in dire need of the greatest of care and attention. A body cannot continue to exist with half of its structure safe and sound while the other half is diseased and decayed. . . .
The idea of Afro-Asian Solidarity did not emanate out of naught, so as to be born and see daylight at Bandung all of a sudden. But before materializing as an historical event, it was an impression and an innate volition instinctively developing in the mind of the colonized and the exploited-the human being whom imperialism had reduced to a typefied specimen of a subjugated specie and bondsman recognisable in every colonized country.
Indeed the idea of solidarity was deeply rooted in the hearts of those subjected peoples, continually aspiring through diverse national movements to smash the fetters of bondage and redeem their salvation. In the course of time these national movements were destined to meet, to consolidate and to react with one another, purposefully in some instances, but unconsciously and spontaneously in the majority of cases.
It is evident therefore, that the Bandung Conference was not a haphazard event, but rather a natural psychological factor which led to the awakening of the peoples of Africa and Asia and roused them from their slumber to solve the problem of their very existence and survival, and to resume the struggle for the recovery of their liberty and freedom.
This awakening would have been devoid of any historical significance had it not marked a point of departure towards a new progressive future, the fundamental broad lines of which have been laid down by the Bandung Conference. It is up to the Peoples' Cairo Conference to reap from it, to the fullest extent, the benefits of the positive results which have blossomed in the political, economic, social and cultural fields alike. It is here that we shall necessarily be confronted by a number of difficult problems, but to find adequate solutions to these problems is not an impossible task, if we succeed in overcoming the first difficulty from the outset. It is a problem which comes within our own selves. It is the problem of sound and unbiased judgment. . . .
No doubt each country has its own particular problems for which she is more competent than any one else to gauge the nature of the difficulties they represent; but at the same time, there is not a shadow of a doubt also that it is within the power of each of us to extend a helping band to his brother in time of need, in an endeavour to assist in solving his problems, be it only in the form of a genuine, friendly counsel or an expert advice. Thus it becomes evident that it is the duty of each of us to foster a double interest-an interest in his own problems, and an interest in the problems of others.
In addition, there arc problems which present a common interest to us all. They react on us, and reflect on all of us one and the same homogeneous picture. Consequently, our particular national problems, and the problems common to us all, must of necessity go along, side by side. . . .
These are not the only responsibilities we have to shoulder in our Conference; for in addition to the host of responsibilities we have towards our diverse specific countries, there are others we have towards our two Continents, Africa and Asia. Besides, we have definite responsibilities towards the whole of mankind as an entire, indivisible unit.
We cannot live peacefully in a world threatened by the shadow of war. We can no longer enjoy the products of our hands and the fruits of our labour in a world where plunder prevails and flourishes. We can no longer build and reconstruct in a world which manufactures weapons for destruction and devastation.
We can no longer raise the standard of living of our peoples and stamp out diseases and epidemics in a world where nations vie with each other for the production of lethal weapons of massacre and annihilation. Gone for ever is the era where the future of war and peace was decided upon in a few European capitals, because today we happen to be strong enough to make the decision ourselves in that respect.
Our weight in the international balance has now become preponderant. only think of the colossal number of our people, our natural resources, the vastness of the area covered by our respective countries, and our strategic positions. You will surely come to the conclusion that the outbreak of war is impossible so long as we insist on peace, especially if we do not content ourselves with a mere negative attitude, but assume one of positiveness in favour of Peace. This transition from the negative to the positive is a fundamental basis worthy of our adoption.
Here in Egypt we, for instance, believe in the principle of neutrality and non-alignment. Many of our friends in Asia and Africa share this belief. We arc confident that by adopting this attitude, we eliminate the shadow of war and limit the area of conflict between the two belligerent blocks, thus creating a vast region for Peace, imposing its existence and its atmosphere day after day, until it prevails over the whole world.
But this neutrality in which we believe, though it defines the principle of abstaining from entering into international blocks, yet it also means that we shall spare no positive effort in reconcilating these belligerent blocks. . . . It is the very principle which has been stressed by the President Gamal Abdul Nasser in his speech at Port Said oil the anniversary of its liberation, when be said:
Today in Port Said we turn to the whole world demanding the corroboration of the fundamental principles of justice, which is the right to self-determination. We look from Port Said towards the whole world and demand that every colonized State should be granted its independence, and the right to govern itself. . . .
In the name of Egypt, I address a message to the world at large, for the preservation of Peace, and the abolition of war; for the removal of world tension, and the cessation of the cold war of nerves. We have seen war at Port Said. We have been hit by it, and faced its ravages and woes. But a World War, once it breaks out with its nuclear weapons and hydrogen bombs, will unquestionably annihilate mankind and destroy for ever our existing civilization. As a section of humanity, which has been treacherously attacked by imperialistic States, we demand that atomic experiments should be abolished, and that manufacture and use of nuclear weapons should be prohibited. We further press for disarmament in the interests of World Peace.
The People of Egypt who arc sparing no effort for the establishment of universal justice, equity, liberty and peace, welcome you as messengers of justice, equity, liberty and peace.