Leadership of Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt from 1954 to 1970

Biography

  • Was part of the Free Officers, a group of Egyptian officers plotting to overthrow the Egyptian government (early 1950s)
  • July 1952, he helped overthrow the unpopular government
  • In 1954, Nasser became President: his goal was to give Egypt true sovereignty by freeing her from British troops
  • As President, Nasser wanted to ensure Egypt was seen as independent, by not easily conforming to the wants of his Allies

§  Accordingly, he demanded British troops to withdraw from the Suez Canal zone in 1954, and nationalizing the canal in July 1956

  • Previously, in September 1955, Nasser made an arms deal with the Soviet satellite, Czechoslovakia, shocking Israel and the West
  • Before nationalizing the canal, Nasser recognized communist China, as a step to cement the ideological neutrality of Egypt (neither completely West / communist)
  • Nasser died in September 1970

Traits, Characteristics, Leadership Skills

  • He was bold (seen in his dramatic actions such as the 1955 Czechoslovakia arms deal and nationalization of the Suez Canal, 1956)
  • He was determined and outspoken (always fought for the independence of Egypt, even if it means war, which happened on more than one occasion)
  • Nasser was most determined to keep  and to make known Egypt’s independence

Famous Quotes

  • July 26, 1956: “We shall defend [the Suez Canal] with our blood and strength, and we shall meet aggression with aggression and evil with evil.”

§  Speech following the nationalization of the Suez Canal

  • “They defended the grains of sand in the desert to the last drop of their blood.”

§  Exemplifies the determination of his people to keep their land from Israel

  • “People do not want words – they want the sound of battle – the battle of destiny.”
  • “What was taken by force can only be restored by force.”

§  Both Demonstrate Nasser’s insistence that war ensured his goals for Egypt

Political Ideology

  • Nasser did his best to keep Egypt ideologically neutral

§  He took money from the United States to help build the Aswan Dam

§  He also recognized communist China and made the 1955 arms deal with the Soviet satellite, Czechoslovakia

§  Britain and France were the ultimate economic losers when facing Nasser, which could indicate that he was slightly more Soviet than Western

Peacetime and Wartime Goals/Objectives

  • Nasser always wanted to ensure the independence of Egypt

§  In the crisis leading up to the Six Day War (1967), Nasser had the UN evacuate the Sinai region so Egyptian forces could take control

§  In 1954, he had British forces removed from the Suez Canal

§  Nasser lived to fulfill the words of a dying soldier: “Remember the real battle is in Egypt.”

Peacetime and Wartime Failures/Accomplishments

  • Nasser never won a war against Israel
  • In the Six Day War (1967), he proved Egypt to have a strong army capable of harming Israel; ultimately, however, the Israelis won
  • The Sinai area was taken by the UN after Suez, the Egyptians losing it

§  After the Suez War, Michael Scott-Bauhmann writes “The British lion was forced to slope off with its tail between its legs.” (p. 44, ATH series)

Lasting Legacy to World History

  • Nasser was able to diminish British influence in Egypt during his reign
  • He also industrialized Egypt greatly (e.g. the construction of the Aswan Dam)
  • TIME states that Nasser “imparted a sense of personal worth and national pride that they [Egypt and the Arabs] had not known for 400 years. This alone may have been enough to balance his flaws and failures.”

The Suez War of 1956 Overview

  • The fighting over Suez began October 29, 1956 with the Israeli invasion of Egypt; it ended November 6, when the UN declared a ceasefire and ordered the withdrawal of British and French troops
  • The major fighting took place in Sinai, west of the Suez Canal (the direction the Israelis advanced from); there were also British and French bombings at Port Said, a few miles north of the Canal
  • 70 000 Egyptians; 45 000 British, 34 000 French, 40 000 Israelis
  • The Israeli tactic was to invade across Sinai quickly, because it would cause risk for the Egyptian’s traditional flanking attack
  • The United States condemned Britain and France for going to war with Egypt
    • 29 October
      Israeli forces invade Egypt.
    • 30 October
      The British and French ultimatum for an end to hostilities is rejected by Nasser.
    • 5-6 November
      On the night of 5-6 November, British and French troops invade Port Said and take control of the Suez Canal. In a meeting of the British cabinet on 6 November, Harold Macmillan raises stark warnings of economic peril as a result of the action.
    • 6 November
      The UN declared a ceasefire and ordered the British and French to withdraw
    • 7 November
      The United States, USSR and the United Nations condemn British and French military action. The loss of confidence and American backing for the already weak British economy forces Eden into calling a cease-fire. British public opinion is deeply divided over the use of force.
    • Implications:

o    The Arab countries felt increasingly anti-Western, after seeing them get heavily involved with their archenemies, Israel

o    Egypt increased their ties with the Soviet Union, who gave them most of the weapons Egypt possessed

However, Egypt remained neutral: Nasser refused to become associated fully with communism

Arab-Israeli War 1967

Background/ Events Leading to War

The Development of Israeli

  • Since 1949, Israeli had the constant threat of invasion from the surrounding Arab states.
  • The Secretary of the Arab League said:

o    As long as we don’t make peace with the Zionists the war is not over. And as long as the war is not over there is neither winner nor loser. As soon as we recognise the existence of Israel, we admit, by this act, that we are defeated.

  • The state of Israel became very much developed over the course of a ten year span. Many new, industries such as cars, chemicals and defence were built and vast sums of money were spent on the arms forces to defend the country.
  • The US government along with American Jews sent close to a billion dollars per year to Israel. (NOTE: US supported Israel in an effort to pull Israel away from the communist sphere of influence)

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)

  • At a Cairo meeting in 1964, the leaders of the Arab states said:

o    The existence of Israel is danger that threatens the Arab nation. Collective Arab military preparations, when they are completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel.

  • In 1965 Fatah, a guerrilla group, which was part of the PLO, carried out its raid into Israel, however the Israeli’s responded swiftly. The three Fatah bases were in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Both Lebanon and Jordan tried to restrict Fatah activity however Syria supported the views of Fatah and supplied them with men and arms.

Countdown to War

April 1966-67

  • Egypt signed a defence agreement with Syria in 1966 outline that if one of the states were to be attacked then the other nation would come in for defence.
  • On April 7th,1967 Syrians opened fire on Israeli farmer, and the Israeli’s retaliate by firing back thus leading to a air fight between Syria and Israel.  Horrible loss for Syria has it loss six planes and Israeli planes roared low over Syria further humiliating them.

May 1967

Nasser’s Famous Three Moves

  • On May 15th he moved 100,000 troops to Sinai, even though it was Egyption territory it alarmed the Israeli’s.
  • Asked UN troops to withdraw from Egypt to show its independence from the UN. The UN requested to stay on the Israel side of the border however Israel refused thus they were required to withdraw.
  • On May 22nd, Nasser closed the straits of Tiran, a vital component of Israel shipping. The Israeli’s saw this as an act of aggression and claimed that Britain, France and US assured them that this would be a free passageway in 1957.

The Six Day War

DateJune 5th to June 10th, 1967
LocationMiddle East ( Egypt, Jordan, Syria)
Nations InvolvedIsraelEgypt           Iraq

Jordan         Saudi Arabia

Syria

Size of Army264,000 troops
300 combat aircraft
800 tanks
Egypt: 240,000
Syria, Jordan, and Iraq: 307,000
957 combat aircraft
2,504 tanks

Events of the War

Date (June)Israel vs. EgyptIsrael vs. JordanIsrael vs. Syria
Monday 5thIsraeli planes bombed all 19 Egyptian airfields and wrecked 300 planes. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza strip and Sinai desert.The Israeli’s destroyed the Jordanian air force. Jordanian troops attacked west Jerusalem.Israeli planes crippled Syrian air force.
Tuesday 6thThe Israelis raced the Egyptian forces to the Suez Canal. The Israeli air force destroyed many tanks and other vehicles, while Israeli ground forces destroyed or captured the rest.Heavy fighting for control of Jerusalem and the West Bank of the River Jordan.
Wednesday 7thThe Israelis won complete control of Sinai and accepted the UN call for a ceasefire with Egypt.The Israelis captured all of Jerusalem. Jordan accepted the UN call demand for a ceasefire.
Thursday 8thEgypt accepted the ceasefire call.Israel won control of all the West Bank of the River Jordan.
Friday 9thIsraeli troops attacked the Golan Heights.
Saturday 10thIsraeli’s took control of the Golan Heights. Syria accepted the UN call for ceasefire.

Outcome of the War

  • Arabs blamed US, Britain and other European nations
  • The three oil-producing states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Libya agreed to pay $135 million to Egypt for reparation costs.

UN Resolution 242:

  • The withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the territories occupied in the recent conflict
  • Respect for the right of every state in the area “to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries, free of threats or acts of force”

Resolution supported both Arab and Israeli demands.

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