06 February, 2011

A History of Egypt: Episode 3 – Sadat

Continuing my exciting series on the History of Egypt

When Nasser died, he was succeeded by his vice president, Anwar Sadat. In 1973, Sadat joined with the Syrians in launching a surprise attack on the Israelis. Although the Israelis ultimately prevailed, Egyptian national pride was restored by their army's creditable performance. Sadat launched a diplomatic offensive that led to a peace treaty with Israel and their withdrawal from the Sinai. This led to a period of Arab World isolation for Egypt.

Sadat also reversed Nasser's orientation towards the Soviet Union, seeking out a new alliance with the United States of America. Nasser's socialist experiments domestically were replaced by a new policy of Infitah (opening), whereby the Egyptian economy was liberalised and foreign investment welcomed. This created an Egyptian business elite without obviously benefiting the country's masses, but they may well have been even worse off if Nasserite socialism had continued.

In 1981 Sadat suffered the unfortunate fate of being murdered by disgruntled army officers at a parade commemorating the 1973 crossing of the Canal by Egyptian forces. His killers were Islamists angered by the peace treaty with Israel. There was a certain irony to Sadat's fate – he had previously encouraged Egyptian Islamists to counter leftist opposition to his Infitah policies.

No comments: