Anwar as Sadat, 1970-73

Egypt Table of Contents

Anwar SadatWhen Nasser died, it became apparent that his successor, Anwar as Sadat, did not intend to be another Nasser. As Sadat's rule progressed, it became clear that his priority was solving Egypt's pressing economic problems by encouraging Western financial investment. Sadat realized, however, that Western investment would not be forthcoming until there was peace between Egypt and Israel, Soviet influence was eliminated, and the climate became more favorable to Western capitalism.

Sadat was a Free Officer who had served as secretary of the Islamic Congress and of the National Union and as speaker of the National Assembly. In 1969 he was appointed vice president and so became acting president on Nasser's death. On October 3, 1970, the ASU recommended that Sadat be nominated to succeed Nasser as president. An election was held on October 15, and Sadat won more than 90 percent of the vote. Almost no one expected that Sadat would be able to hold power for long. Sadat was considered a rather weak and colorless figure who would last only as long as it would take for the political maneuvering to result in the emergence of Nasser's true successor. Sadat surprised everyone with a series of astute political moves by which he was able to retain the presidency and emerge as a leader in his own right.

Sadat moved very cautiously at first and pledged to continue Nasser's policies. On May 2, 1971, however, Sadat dismissed Ali Sabri, the vice president and head of the ASU. On May 15, Sadat announced that Sabri and more than 100 others had been arrested and charged with plotting a coup against the government. Also charged in the plot were Sharawy Jumaa, minister of interior and head of internal security, and Muhammad Fawzi, minister of war. These men were considered to be left-leaning and pro-Soviet. They were arrested with other important figures of the Nasser era. They had all resigned their positions on May 13, apparently in preparation for a takeover. But anticipating their moves, Sadat outflanked them and was then able to assert himself and appoint his own followers, rather than Free Officer colleagues, to leadership positions.

This action, which became known as the Corrective Revolution, began Sadat's move away from Nasser's policies. He announced new elections and a complete reorganization of the ASU. The armed forces pledged their support for Sadat on May 15. There were also some popular demonstrations in the streets in support of Sadat's moves.

Sadat signed the first Soviet-Egyptian Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation on May 27, 1971. He later explained that he did it to allay Soviet fears provoked by his ouster of Ali Sabri and the others and to speed up deliveries of Soviet military supplies. Even as he was preparing to break the stalemate with Israel, however, he was already thinking of expelling the Soviet advisers.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress