Icons of the 1980s

Anwar as-Sadat
Anwar as-Sadat (muhammadu 'anwâru s-sadât)
'80s Claim to Fame:
President of Egypt


(Mit Abu l-Kawm, Minoufiyya 1918- Cairo 1981). President of Egypt from 1970 to 1981. Sadat's background was military education. He was active in the dissident officer's actions of freeing Egypt from British control, together with Gamal Abdu l-Nasser. He was arrested twice during the war, for co-operating with the Germans, and put to trial for plans to assasinate a politician in 1946, but acquitted. Sadat was on Nasser's side with the coup in 1952, and later the deposing of Neguib. Sadat was vice-president in two periods, 1964-66 and 1969-1970. With Nasser's death in 1970, Sadat was elected to the new precidency.

To have been one of Nasser's closest associates, Sadat set a new course surprisingly independent from Nasser. While Nasser had oriented himself away from the West, and started co-operation closely with the Soviet Union, Sadat sacked 20,000 Soviet military personnel two year after seizing power. In 1973 Sadat was one of the instigators of the Yom Kippur war against Israel, gave only part of the victory hoped for (regaining ontrol over the Suez Canal was tremendously important), but which showed that the Arab military was now at least as strong as the Israeli (which needed US aid, to fight back the Arabs). The Yom Kippur war regarded as a victory for Sadat, especially compared to the falling star of Nasser in his last years at power.

Sadat's rising star on the Arab sky, dropped to the ground in 1977, when he surprised the world by visiting Israel, much motivated by the economical problems after many wars with Israel. In Israel Sadat spoke with prime minister Menachim Begin, and gave a speech in the national assembly of Israel, the Knesset. The result of the talks that started here, was the so-called Camp David agreement, officially signed on March 26, 1979. The treaty, was in two parts, Israel gave up land taken from Egypt, in change of peace. The other part, that should secure a Palestinian state, and no more settlements on the occupied territories, was never fulfilled from Israeli side.

While the international society rewarded him with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 (together with Menachim Begin), the treaty with Israel isolated Egypt in the Arab world, and opposition was expressed from the Islamists. In September 1981, Sadat gave the order to round up 1,600 dissidents, Islamists and Communists. One month later, on October 6, he was shot by three soldiers under a military parade in Cairo.

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