Friday, October 15, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Rise Of Anwar Sadat

On this day in 1970 Anwar Sadat became President of Egypt, following the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser on September 28th; Sadat was the third to serve in this post following Muhammad Naguib and Nasser, all of whom had participated in the coup to overthrow King Farouk I during the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

PhotobucketSadat's presidency was remarkable chiefly for the changes undergone by Sadat himself throughout it; although he'd inherited a country demoralized by the loss of the Six-Day War in 1967, and one determined to see itself avenged by means of the October (or Yom Kippur) War in October 1973, for whatever reason Sadat quickly began to see himself as a peacemaker.

Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel in November 1977, during which time he held high-profile meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and addressed the Knesset. For daring to suggest that peace is possible between the Arab world and Israel he'd effectively numbered his days, just as he'd assured his place in history.

It was the Camp David Accords (facilitated by US President Jimmy Carter, and signed in September 1978) that really put Sadat on the world stage as a leader; he and Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts at ending the state of total war that had existed in the Eastern Mediterranean since the creation of Israel in May 1948. For trying to broker peace in the region, Egypt was expelled from the Arab League in 1979, at which time that organization's headquarters were moved from Cairo to Tunis. Despite the all-around condemnation of Egypt by its traditional allies, the treaty signed on that day is still in effect. More extraordinarily, over the years countries such as Jordan and Morocco have also found their peace with Israel in their own ways...

Anwar Sadat was assassinated in October 1981 after a fatwa placed on him by Omar Abdel-Rahman was carried out by a radical cell within the Egyptian army led by Lieutenant Khaled Islambouli; he was temporarily succeeded by Sufi Abu Taleb, following which his Vice President Hosni Mubarak - who remains President of Egypt to this day - took over.

Sadat's killing had come after three years of increasing domestic tension within Egypt, during which time radical elements had carried out a campaign of terror against Western interests. They'd also begun a whispering campaign, suggesting corruption on the part of Sadat and his family. In an effort to contain the protest, Sadat ordered a roundup and imprisonment more than 1500 of the usual suspects - including many Jihad members, intellectuals and activists of all ideological stripes, communists, Nasserists, feminists, Islamists, homosexuals, Coptic Christian clergy, university professors, journalists and members of student groups. All to no avail...

Anwar Sadat was portrayed by Oscar-winner Louis Gossett, Jr. in a 1983 American television miniseries about his life; it wasn't until 2001 that Egypt made its own film, starring Ahmed Zaki, whose portrayal of Sadat has been universally hailed as the best of his career.
share on: facebook

No comments: