Gamal Nasser

Gamal Nasser, who would eventually become the President of Egypt and later the United Arab States, began his career serving in the Egyptian armed forces. On July 23rd, 1952, Nasser and a multitude of other officers, outraged at the monarchy that had ruled Egypt with the aid of colonial powers, staged a coup d’état that lasted only a few days, resulting in the formation of the Revolutionary Command Council. This occurred after the officers lost the confidence in the Egyptian monarchy, which had been largely corrupt, and so Nasser and other military officers forced the Egyptian King Farouk to resign from his post resulting in Mohammed Neguib to become president of Egypt. Also as a result of Farouk’s resignation was Nasser’s raise to the rank of Minister of the Interior, a position that would last him until 1954. The Egyptian state had remained democratic up until 1953, when the Revolutionary Command Council banned all other political parties, effectively ushering the age of the single party state in Egypt. It was not until 1954 that Nasser rose to power, mainly as the result of him replacing Neguib as prime minister of Egypt, with his full ascension to power resulting several months later when he became the President of Egypt. This came as the result of an assassination attempt made on Nasser during his stint as prime minister, an event which was spun to show Neguib having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that was responsible for the assassination attempt.

Among other things, Nasser began the construction of the Aswan Dam, believing that once constructed it would allow for greater agrarian production to take place. Following this decision to have the dam constructed, Nasser also began having the land redistributed across Egypt as well as turning his attention to the increase in industrialization in Egypt. Due to the increasing ties with the Soviet Union (as seen through the weapons purchase with Czechoslovakia after the Western Nations refused to deal if the Egyptian government would not meet their stipulations), the United States government, under Eisenhower, withdrew its funds from the construction of the Aswan Dam, infuriating Nasser and setting forth a series of events that would result in a global crisis. In retaliation for Eisenhower’s decision, Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canal so as to increase revenue for the funding of the dam. This decision however had negative impacts on the major shareholders of the dam, namely people from France and Britain. Further complicating the situation was the growing fear that Nasser would form an Arab alliance that would inevitably result in the halt of Middle Eastern oil to the nations of Western Europe. This fear manifested itself in the formation of an alliance between England, France and Israel, who planned on preventing such an occurrence from happening through the use of armed force, which led to secret plans being developed for an assault on Egypt. On October 29th, 1956 these secret plans were implemented, which resulted in the Israeli invasion of Egypt and subsequent French and English invasions two days later. After only a few days of conflict, it became quite evident that this attack was unwarranted and on November 7th the French, English and Israeli governments agreed to withdraw their troops from the region.

As a result of the invasion, Nasser shut down the Suez Canal, and furthermore encouraged other Arab nations to cut off their oil exports to Western Europe, indicating that the actions of England and France actually caused what they had feared. Following this decision, the next major event for Nasser was when Egypt and Syria joined forces to become the United Arab Republic, which later fused with Yemen to form the United Arab States. Although both of these mergers did not work out (Syria backed out after realizing that they were losing their autonomy and Yemen after the Egyptian government withdrew its aid to fund its efforts against Israel), Nasser was still able to maintain his control over Egypt and furthermore was undeterred in his confrontation with Israel. Nasser would later resign from his post as President in 1967, however as a result of large-scale demonstrations he reversed that decision and remained in power until he passed away in 1970.
There is one more incident that is worth noting when discussing Nasser, and that would be his role in the Arab-Israeli war or as it was commonly know as the Six Day War in 1967. The conflict, although quite brief, heavily damaged the reputation of Nasser’s regime, to which Nasser had accepted the full responsibility for and as a result attempted to resign, as previously stated. However, after this humiliating loss Nasser remained in power and furthermore gained the power of being the head of the Egyptian military as the leading military officials resigned from their posts. Despite the crippling losses the tensions remained between Egypt and Israel, manifesting itself in the minor skirmishes between the two after the cease-fire and also through the building of large defensive lines on either side of the Suez Canal (Israel had gained the Sinai area and controlled the East side of the Suez as a result of the 1967 war). The Soviet Union sent further aid to Egypt in the form of troops and surface-to-air missiles, to which the Egyptian governments utilized to force the Israeli’s back from the Suez.**nasser**.htm

Primary Source - Statement by President Nasser to Members of the Egyptian National Assembly

29 May 1967:
Brothers, when Brother Anwar as-Sadat informed me of your decision to meet me I told him that I myself was prepared to call on you at the National Assembly, but he said you were determined to come. I therefore responded to this and I thank you heartily for your consideration.
I was naturally not surprised by the law which Brother Anwar as-Sadat read because I was notified of it before I came here. However, I wish to thank you very much for your feelings and for the powers given me. I did not ask for such powers because I felt that you and I were as one, that we could cooperate and work for the sublime interest of this country, giving a great example of unselfishness and of work for the welfare of all. Thanks be to God, for four years now the National Assembly has been working and has given great examples. We have given great examples in cooperation and unselfishness and in placing before us the sublime and highest objective - the interest of this nation.
I am proud of this resolution and law. I promise you that I will use it only when necessary. I will, however, send all the laws to you. Thank you once again. The great gesture of moral support represented by this law is very valuable to my spirit and heart. I heartily thank you for this feeling and this initiative.
The circumstances through which we are now passing are in fact difficult ones because we are not only confronting Israel but also those who created Israel and who are behind Israel. We are confronting Israel and the West as well -the West, which created Israel and which despised us Arabs and which ignored us before and since 1948. They had no regard whatsoever for our feelings, our hopes in life, or our rights. The West completely ignored us, and the Arab nation was unable to check the West's course.
Then came the events of 1956 - the Suez battle. We all know what happened in 1956. When we rose to demand our rights, Britain, France and Israel opposed us, and we were faced with the tripartite aggression. We resisted, however, and proclaimed that we would fight to the last drop of our blood. God gave us success and God's victory was great.
Subsequently we were able to rise and to build. Now, eleven years after 1956, we are restoring things to what they were in 1956. This is from the material aspect. In my opinion this material aspect is only a small part, whereas the spiritual aspect is the great side of the issue. The spiritual aspect involves the renaissance of the Arab nation, the revival of the Palestine question, and the restoration of confidence to every Arab and to every Palestinian. This is on the basis that if we were able to restore conditions to what they were before 1956, God will surely help and urge us to restore the situation to what it was in 1948.
Brothers, the revolt, upheaval and commotion which we now see taking place in every Arab country are not only because we have returned to the Gulf of Aqaba or rid ourselves of the UNEF, but because we have restored Arab honour and renewed Arab hopes.
Israel used to boast a great deal, and the Western Powers, headed by the United States and Britain, used to ignore and even despise us and consider us of no value. But now that the time has come - and I have already said in the past that we will decide the time and place and not allow them to decide - we must be ready for triumph and not for a recurrence of the 1948 comedies. We shall triumph, God willing.
Preparations have already been made. We are now ready to confront Israel. They have claimed many things about the 1956 Suez war, but no one believed them after the secrets of the 1956 collusion were uncovered - that mean collusion in which Israel took part. Now we are ready for the confrontation. We are now ready to deal with the entire Palestine question.
The issue now at hand is not the Gulf of Aqaba, the Straits of Tiran, or the withdrawal of the UNEF, but the rights of the Palestine people. It is the aggression which took place in Palestine in 1948 with the collaboration of Britain and the United States. It is the expulsion of the Arabs from Palestine, the usurpation of their rights, and the plunder of their property. It is the disavowal of all the UN resolutions in favour of the Palestinian people.
The issue today is far more serious than they say. They want to confine the issue to the Straits of Tiran, the UNEF and the right of passage. We demand the full rights of the Palestinian people. We say this out of our belief that Arab rights cannot be squandered because the Arabs throughout the Arab world are demanding these Arab rights.
We are not afraid of the United States and its threats, of Britain and its threats, or of the entire Western world and its partiality to Israel. The United States and Britain are partial to Israel and give no consideration to the Arabs, to the entire Arab nation. Why? Because we have made them believe that we cannot distinguish between friend and foe. We must make them know that we know who our foes are and who our friends are and treat them accordingly.
If the United States and Britain are partial to Israel, we must say that our enemy is not only Israel but also the United States and Britain and treat them as such. If the Western Powers disavow our rights and ridicule and despise us, we Arabs must teach them to respect us and take us seriously. Otherwise all our talk about Palestine, the Palestine people and Palestinian rights will be null and void and of no consequence. We must treat enemies as enemies and friends as friends.
I said yesterday that the States that champion freedom and peace have supported us. I spoke of the support given us by India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Malaysia, the Chinese People's Republic and the Asian and African States.
After my statements yesterday I met the War Minister Shams Badran and learned from him what took place in Moscow. I wish to tell you today that the Soviet Union is a friendly Power and stands by us as a friend. In all our dealings with the Soviet Union - and I have been dealing with the USSR since 1955 - it has not made a single request of us. The USSR has never interfered with our policy or internal affairs. This is the USSR as we have always known it. In fact, it is we who have made urgent requests of the USSR. Last year we asked for wheat and they sent it to us. When I also asked for all kinds of arms they gave them to us. When I met Shams Badran yesterday he handed me a message from the Soviet Premier Kosygin saying that the USSR supported us in this battle and would not allow any Power to intervene until matters were restored to what they were in 1956.
Brothers, we must distinguish between friend and foe, friend and hypocrite. We must be able to tell who is making requests, who has ulterior motives and who is applying economic pressure. We must also know those who offer their friendship to us for no other reason than a desire for freedom and peace.
In the name of the UAR people, I thank the people of the USSR for their great attitude which is the attitude of a real friend. This is the kind of attitude that we expect. I said yesterday that we had not requested the USSR or any other State to intervene because We really want to avoid any confrontation which might lead to a world war and also because we really work for peace and advocate world peace. When we voiced the policy of non-alignment, our chief aim was world peace.
Brothers, we will work for world peace with all the power at our disposal, but we will also hold tenaciously to our rights with all the power at our disposal. This is our course. On this occasion, I address myself to our brothers in Aden and say: Although occupied with this battle, we have not forgotten you. We are with you. We have not forgotten the struggle of Aden and the occupied South for liberation. Aden and the occupied South must be liberated and colonialism must end. We are with them; present matters have not taken our minds from Aden.
I thank you for taking the trouble to pay this visit. Moreover, your presence is an honour to the Qubbah Palace, and I am pleased to have met you. Peace be with you.

Secondary Document -
Gamal Abdel Nasser By Sam Witte