Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gamal Abdul Nasser

Gamal Abdul Nasser was a Egyptian revolutionist that successfully drove British out of his country after 72 years of rule, under his presidency Egypt came out of intense poverty to prosperity, he became famous all around the Arab Peninsula after standing firm against the western nations and his efforts of combining the Arab power to combat anti-Muslim forces mainly the Israel.

Childhood January , 15th 1918. Gamal Abdul Nasser Hussein was born in Banny Mor Asyout,Egypt. One year before the 1919 revolution against the English Colonization. He lived 8 years there where he learnt the South Egyptian strict and generous traditions. He moved then to Asyout city, then to Alexandria, then Cairo. All of these moving were because of his father’s job as an inspector in the ministry of Post. His mother passed away on 1926. Gamal spent 10 years in Cairo until he received his high school diploma from “Nahda” school in 1937. At these years Gamal was part of many demonstrations against the English colonization where he was injured in one of them and got a scar in his face that stayed until he died. 1937 was the year when Nasser joined the military school where he graduated on 1938 to join the third platoon in Asyout where he met Anwar El Sadat, and Zakaria Mohyi El Deen who later joined him in the “Free Officers” organization. 1939 Nasser was transferred to Alexandria where he met with Abdul Hakeem Amer who became his best friend, and played a controversial role in his life.

Free Officers Revolutionary organization

Egypt was a kingdom ruled by English and the figure head of the country was the Puppet King Farouk , thousands of English army men were on Egyptian soil to protect United Kingdom interests in the region. Not to repeat the 1882 army revolution, or the 1919 revolution, the UK worked hard to prevent any development of the Egyptian army. Corruption was spreading with each government, the royal palace aided by the English interference in the internal affairs. Such environment gathered a group of young officers to fight corruption and work for the development of Egypt and Egyptians.

1942 Nasser was transferred to Sudan with Abdul Hakeem Amer where their friendship became stronger, and they exchanged their rebellion ideas about the future of Egypt. While serving in the Sudan during the late 1940s, he and other three other officers founded the secret Free Officers revolutionary organization. Their objective was the overthrow of the British occupying regime and the puppet Egyptian king.

Nasser holding the flag

The 1948 war was the ignition for the “Free Officers Organizations”. It gave the free officers the time to meet, and share their thoughts about the future of Egypt and quoted from Nasser diaries “…We were fighting in Palestine, and our dreams were in Egypt. Our bullets were targeting the enemy but our hearts were with our nation who was left for the wolves”.Such war added a lot to Nasser’s personality, it gave him confidence, and it added more to his rebellion nature for Freedom. Nasser gained his leadership reputation after the battle of “Falouga” where he managed to fight with no backup support, and under siege against the Israeli armed forces, he was also wounded. The confidential organization became active on 1949, started by a committee of young officers that included Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kamal El Deen Hussein, Hassan Ibrahim, Khaled Mohey El Deen, and Abdul Menim Raouf. New officers were also added to this.

In 1950, Nasser was chosen president for the Free Officers organization. They faced Lots of obstacles like being monitored by the “political police” which was responsible to stop any action against the royal palace or the English personnel. This made the attempts of recruiting new officers a difficult task; lots of investigations were to take place before adding a new officer to the organization.

In November 1949 The Organization distributed their first “flyer” which discussed the Defeat in Palestine War. The flyers continued to be sent by Mail and to be delivered by hand according to the sector that the free officer who is delivering it (Air Force, Infantry...etc).

In1951 the Organization started a newspaper called “the voice of the free officers” which was sent to 700 Egyptian officers by mail. The royal palace had information about such organization, and King Farouk tried to destroy it before it threatens his crown.

Yet the Organization kept working for its goal, and more officers were drafted until July the 1952 date of revolution.

The Revolution

After becoming a mature organization, the free officers started publishing their demands by the mailed flyers. They requested a strong Egyptian army, where its duty to protect Egypt not to be used for serving the royal palace, nor the English interests in the region. They demanded quick solutions for the starvation of the Egyptians. The need of a revolution against the royal system became a nation’s dream after the poor standards that the citizens suffered, and increasing of corruption. 26th January 1952, named “black Saturday” when a huge fire burnt downtown Cairo destroying stores, factories, houses and killing tens of innocent Egyptians. Corruption was the main cause of such tragedy. The failure to pin point the responsible of such fire was a knock out for “The Wafd” party who were in charge of the Egyptian government for years before such incident. King Farouk tried to calm the Egyptians but failed. At that time, the Free officers were well known by the palace, and the political police exerted lots of effort to neutralize them, such environment pushed ahead the date to start the revolution. Days before the 23rd of July 1952, the officers started their plan to rebel against the current system and change it. The plan was to move at the night of 22nd of July to capture the main base of the army, followed by taking charge of the whole army and controlling them from there. Then the Free officers controlled the telephone systems, Airport, train stations and the Egyptian radio station. Controlling such major buildings allowed the officers to give false information to the palace in Alexandria where King Farouk was residing. The revolution managed to capture the Army central bases in Al-Areesh and Rafah, by doing so the officers controlled most of the army platoons which eased their mission in controlling Alexandria. The revolution succeeded in their plan, and Anwar El Sadat announced the evolution of a new Era that will work for the sake of development of Egypt cleaning all the corruption caused by the royal palace. King Farouk was exiled with none of his assets, and brigadier Mohammed Nagueeb was given the authority to be the leader of the Army and the political authority in Egypt. In 1953, the Egyptian constitution changed and the royal system was cancelled and replaced by the republican system. . Gen. Muhammad Naguib became the nominal head of the government, but Nasser held power through his control of the Revolutionary Command Committee. In 1954, following an attempt on Nasser's life, he arrested Naguib and became premier of Egypt

Presidency and rise to a Outstanding Arab Leader

Soon after Nasser took power, the British became aware of there fall and thus signed an agreement , ending their 72- year presence in Egypt.

Nasser introduced new political system, it was called Arab socialism, with a one-party system and with Islam as its official religion. With this program he confiscated 243,000 hectares (2,430 km²) farm land from a small group of rich landowners and distributed it evenly to the population Later on in his presidency he nationalized banks and industries. In July,1956,Nasser announced to a huge cheering crowd in Manshia, Alexandria and, via Cairo Radio, to the rest of the Arab World that he was nationalizing the Suez Canal Company and creating the an Egyptian Canal Authority to manage the Canal. The entire Third World was thrilled and delighted. There existed no potent symbol of Western colonial domination and a legend of the Western imperialism and hegemony more than the Suez Canal. But there was worry about the consequences; the West would surely not allow Nasser to succeed. USA and Britain withdrew a promised support for the construction of a new Aswan. He also continued his purchases of military equipment from Soviet bloc countries. He had gone there after being turned down by the West, which suspected plans to use the weapons against Israel.

The nationalization of the Suez Canal was met by an Israeli invasion of the Sinai Peninsula and an Anglo-French invasion of the Canal Zone. Although Egyptian forces suffered military defeat but with Nasser’s diplomacy, the invading forces were put under pressure from the UN and United States, and had to withdraw. Egypt kept the full ownership of the Suez Canal With US assistance the Canal was cleared and reopened in April 1957. All the British and French property in Egypt was sequestered. About 3,000 British and French nationals were expelled, and more thousands decided to leave. Britain and France attempted to retaliate by imposing an economic blockade of Egypt, but the gesture was ineffective, he also managed to get Soviet support for the construction of the dam, which was completed 14 years later. Due to his economic policies specially construction of Dam and the Canal to take water to un-irrigated land, Egypt emerged from poverty stricken country to a prospering nation.

Nasser and Arafat

Nasser(left) handshaking with Yasser Arafat

By this time Nasser had become a hero in the Arab world. In 1958 Syria and Egypt united under his presidency, forming the United Arab Republic ,hoping that one day all the Arab nations would join, but the Egypt-Syria union, however, broke up in 1961 after a military coup in Syria.

By 1967 the Arab-Israeli situation had deteriorated. After the UN peacekeeping force, at Nasser's request, had been withdrawn, and Egyptian guns blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli ships, Israel attacked Egypt and occupied the entire Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal ( Six-Day War) in just six days.After humiliating defeat of Egypt’s forces, Nasser, taking responsibility for the debacle, resigned, but the thousands of people took to the streets, demanding his return to government. He stayed in power for 18 years even in the face of a large number of domestic competitors and opponents .On September 28, 1970, he died suddenly of a heart attack.

Even after his death till now he is still remembered by Muslims as a man who stood up to Western Dominance and lead his country from a poor slaved British Colony to a Free Progressing Nation. Even his harshest critics which accuse him of turning Egypt into a police state with controlled rule, censorship, still beyond doubt see him as the foremost Arab leader, who restored Arab dignity after the long humiliation of Western domination.
Nasser's ideas were laid down in his book of 1959, The Philosophy of the Revolution.


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