President of Egypt
Gamal Abdel Nasser was born in
Alexandria, Egypt, on January 15, 1918. He
received his primary and secondary education in
Cairo and studied law before entering the Royal
Military Academy. In 1938, he graduated from the
Military Academy and was appointed as an officer
in the infantry. He served in the Sudan during World War II,
then was appointed as an instructor at the
academy. In 1948, he took part in the
Arab-Israeli War, during which his troop was
besieged at Al Falouga.
While at the academy, and in
subsequent military service, Nasser and some of
his fellow officers created the Free Officers, a
secret revolutionary society dedicated to
overthrowing the monarchy and getting Britain out of Egypt. On July 23, 1952, the
Free Officers staged a virtually bloodless coup
and ousted King Farouk.
In 1953 the monarchy was abolished and a republic
The new republic was initially
headed by Muhammad Naguib, with Nasser in a
subordinate role. But a series of events,
combined with Nasser's skills, gradually brought
Nasser out of Naguib's shadow until, on February
23, 1954, he became Prime Minister.
On July 24, 1954, he negotiated
and signed the treaty by which Egypt was
evacuated after 72 years of British occupation.
Nasser also played a key role in the Bandung
Conference of 1955, which resulted in the
launching of the non-alignment movement
throughout the Arab world.
President of Egypt
In 1956, a referendum
concerning the enactment of a new constitution
was held, and Nasser was officially elected
President of the Republic of Egypt. The
constitution made Egypt a socialist state, with a
one-party system and Islam as its official
Suez Canal Incident
In 1956 Britain and the United
States withdrew their financial support from the
Aswan High Dam project. In order to obtain funds
for the project, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.
This brought aggression from France and
Britain in alliance with Israel. Under pressure
from the United States, the three were finally
forced to withdraw, and a United Nations
emergency force was subsequently placed as a
buffer between Egypt and Israel.
His handling of the Suez Canal
incident made Nasser a hero in the Arab world. In
1958 Syria and Egypt united under his presidency,
forming the United Arab Republic. The union broke up in 1961, however,
following a coup in Syria.
War with Yemen
In 1962, Nasser sent Egyptian
troops to assist the Yemeni Free Officers in
their bid to oust the Yemeni royal family. By
1965 more than 55,000 Egyptian troops were
engaged in Yemen, in what
was ultimately a losing cause.
By 1967 the Arab-Israeli
situation had deteriorated. After the UN
peacekeeping force, at Nasser's request, had been
withdrawn, and Egyptian guns had blockaded the
Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli ships, Israel attacked
Egypt and occupied the entire Sinai Peninsula up
to the Suez Canal.
Taking responsibility for
Egypt's defeat in the Six-Day War, Nasser
resigned as President of Egypt on June 9, 1967.
The people, however, immediately responded by
taking to the streets and demanding his return to
government. Nasser responded by resuming the
presidency almost immediately.
On September 28, 1970, Gamal
Abdel Nasser died suddenly of a heart attack. He
was succeeded by Anwar al-Sadat.
World War II
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