|Biographical detail : ||An Egyptian politician of great courage and flexibility.
Saadat set the stage for the peace treaty of 1979 between Egypt and Israel and that made him a catalytic force of display of courage and flexibility in the history of the Middle East. Though he earned himself, apart from the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978, the admiration of the US but he also drew outpourings of hatred from Palestinians and other Arabs who felt he was a traitor to their struggles against Israel.
Saadat was virtually isolated in the Arab world – Saudi Arabia’s leaders, with whom he had achieved warm relations, cut back their aid to the Egyptian armed forces and the economy – thus he becoming more dependent than ever on support from the US. He was though cultivating bonds of friendship with America – in 1975 he became the first Egyptian President to make a state visit to the US. When Saadat returned to the US again, in 1979, during the treaty negotiations he was hailed by Americans and lavished with large-scale economic and military aid.
An instinctive, charismatic politician soon emerged from his predecessor’s shadow to establish his authority – another of Saadat’s major shifts in policy was his departure from Nasser’s longstanding pro-Soviet stance. In July 1972 he abruptly ordered the withdrawal of the 25,000 Soviet military specialists and advisors in Egypt.
He was able to make such sharp policy shifts in part because for much of his later tenure as President, his power did not seem to be seriously challenged at home. From vice-president in 1969, he came out ahead in a brief power struggle after Nasser’s death in 1970 and was formally made President.
He enhanced his popularity by eliminating many of the police-state controls imposed following the downfall of the monarchy in 1952. In 1973, he built national self-respect when he ordered Egyptian troops, with a surprise attack, to cross the Suez Canal that overran the heavily fortified Israelis positions on the east bank within few hours. Saadat was soon visited by Henry Kissinger and a ‘peace process’ was followed by months of “shuttle diplomacy” by the latter leading to an agreement signed in January 1974.
In 1981 Saadat ordered the arrest of more than 1000 political and religious personalities – a month later, while reviewing a military parade, a military gunman assassinated him.
Muhammad Anwar el-Saadat was born in Mit Abul Kom, a cluster of mud-brick buildings in Minufiya province between Cairo and Alexandria, one of the 13 children of his father, a government clerk.