1970-81 Anwar al Sadat
Nasser died in 1970 and was succeeded by his Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar al Sadat, who was supported by the right wing of the ASU. Sadat initiated the so-called infitah policy, which involved a political opening to the western countries and a privatization of the Egyptian economy. At the same time, the new government broke relations with the Soviet Union and began to receive financial and military assistance from the United States. Finally, the political contacts with Europe and the reactionary countries of the Arab world – including Saudi Arabia – reinforced. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Egypt.
As early as the late 1960s, right-wing forces and private equity interests began to increase their influence. After Nasser’s death, the radical wing of the ruling party (Ali Sabry and others) was suppressed. However, the real political slump happened after the October war in 1973, when it managed to recapture parts of the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula. The limited military victory dampened Egypt’s internal turmoil for some time. The respite was used by the Sadat regime for intense diplomatic activity and preparation for the large-scale investments expected to flow to the country. Export and import restrictions were eased. Tax-free industrial zones were created and extremely favorable conditions for exporting profits were provided. But the results of the “opening policy” (infitah) were disappointing.
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of Egypt on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Egypt.
1975 Sinai Agreement with Israel
The October 1973 war shattered the military and political balance of power in the Arab world’s favor, and allowed Israel to push for territorial concessions. In the fall of 1975, Sadat signed the Sinai Agreement with Israel. It recovered Egypt’s parts of Sinai, but at the same time obliged the country to refrain from future attacks on Israel. The agreement was made over the Arab world and especially the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories. With peace on Israel’s west flank, there was little prospect that it would be possible to pressure the Zionists to accept the Palestinians’ right to self-determination – let alone an independent state. The agreement, therefore, isolated Egypt in the Arab world.
In the spring of 1977, the right-wing coalition, Likud, won the elections in Israel. It was a hard blow to Sadat’s reconciliation policy, but he chose to continue the previous line. In November 1977 he visited Jerusalem. The embrace of the Zionist leaders and his speech in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, showed the desperate degree the Egyptian leadership has focused on in cooperation with US imperialism. The visit disgusted all over the Arab world.
Already in 1975-76 Sadat had launched a “democratization” of the political system: “the introduction of parliamentarism by Western European model ». Three factions (“platforms”) within ASU were legalized as political parties: the “Free Socialists Party” (right wing) and “Egypt’s Arab Socialist Party” (center with Sadat in the lead) gained over 80% of the 360 seats in parliament after the election in the fall of 1976. “The Progressive National Unity Party” (Nazis and Communists, led by Marxist Khaled Muhieddin) received only 2 seats. At the same time, control of the press was sharpened and leftist journalists were cleared out. ASU was entrusted with the oversight of political activity in general: distribution of funds, administration of youth and women’s organizations, etc. Outside this framework, political organization was prohibited.
1976-77 Rising protests
In parallel with this development, the living conditions of the Egyptian workers and peasants deteriorated. Prices rose and so did unemployment. At the same time, protests arose among the peasants against the privatization of the lands Nasser had nationalized 20 years earlier. In 1976-77, therefore, extensive protest demonstrations against the government were conducted. In February 1977, Sadat responded by introducing exemption laws. Life imprisonment was set up for participation in or intention to establish a secret political organization, to damage or assist in property during demonstrations, to strike when “it could harm the national economy”, and to plan or participate in meetings that “threaten public security”.
The opposition to Sadat’s policy did not in fact originate from the Egyptian left, but from his former party comrades on ASU’s left, who were dissatisfied with Nasser’s policy being rolled back. Sadat now used his secret weapon against this resistance: the Muslim Brotherhood. This fanatical religious movement had been founded as early as 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, with branches to Syria and Lebanon. It had been disbanded by Nasser in 1954, but had survived illegally. Sadat now began to grant concessions to the Orthodox religious forces in the country; drafted a stronger Islamic-based constitution, banned alcohol in public places, etc. The main feature of the fraternity was its fanatical anti-communism to neutralize the influence of the left and the Nazis among the poorest of Egyptian society. The opening to the fraternity later came to cost Sadat life.