of Egypt, 1970-1981
Anwar al-Sadat was born in the
Nile Delta village of Mit Abu al-Kawm on December
25, 1918, the son of a poor hospital clerk.
In 1936, Sadat was chosen as
one of the first students to attend the Royal
Military Academy. In 1938 he entered the army as
a Second Lieutenant and was posted in the Sudan.
It was there that he met Gamal Abdel
Nasser. These two men,
along with other young officers, formed the
secret, anti-British, anti-monarchy Free Officers
Sadat was jailed twice for
contacts with Germans during World War II.
In 1946 he was tried and acquitted on charges of
conspiring to assassinate a pro-British
politician. He then spent a few years as a
civilian, participating in several business deals
before rejoining the revolutionary movement.
On July 23, 1952, the Free
Officers Organization staged a coup and overthrew
Farouk. Nasser became
President of Egypt, and Sadat became his most
trusted lieutenant. Sadat held several public
posts under Nasser, including Vice-President in
1964-1966 and 1969-1970.
President of Egypt
Sadat became President upon
Nasser's sudden death on September 29, 1970.
With Egypt still smarting from
its humiliating defeat at the hands of Israel in the
Six-Day War of 1967, Sadat openly offered the
Israelis a peace treaty in exchange for their
return of the Sinai Peninsula; Israel refused the
As President, Sadat inherited a
relationship with the Soviet Union that was
deteriorating because Moscow was not responding
to Egyptian requests for economic and military
aid. In July 1972, Sadat ordered the immediate
withdrawal of the Soviet Union's 5,000 military
On October 6, 1973, Egypt and
Syria attacked Israel, aiming to reverse losses
suffered during the Six-Day War and destroy the
Jewish state. The Arabs initially gained much
ground, but the Israelis had help from the United
States and were able to turn the Arabs back. The
so-called Yom Kippur War ended after both the
Soviet Union and the United States intervened.
When U.S. Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger brokered a truce, Sadat became
convinced that good relations with Washington
served Egypt's interests better than friendship
with Moscow, and in 1976 Sadat abrogated the
Soviet-Egyptian Treaty of Friendship.
In 1977, anxious to reduce the
heavy burden incurred by four wars with Israel
and to improve the plight of his debt-ridden
country, Sadat risked the ire of other Arab
states by making peace overtures toward Israel.
In November he became the first Egyptian leader
to address the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset).
This breakthrough led to the Camp David talks
moderated by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. These talks led to the historic Camp
David Peace Treaty, which was signed by Sadat and
his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Menachem
Begin, on March 26, 1979. In 1978, Sadat and
Begin jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sadat's peace overtures made
him many friends in the West, especially within
the United States. Unfortunately, however, they
also made him many enemies within the Arab world,
which saw him as a traitor. He was assassinated
by Muslim fundamentalists in Cairo on October 6,
1981, while reviewing a military parade
commemorating the Yom Kippur War.
World War II
President Jimmy Carter
Nobel Peace Prize
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