President Nasser set about Egypt’s economic course toward greater state participation. Foreign investment was nationalized, as was the National Bank and other parts of the financial sector. In the countryside, measures were taken to promote cooperative agriculture. This radicalization, in the direction of ‘Arab socialism’, gained support among the Egyptian masses and reverberated in much of the Arab world. Egypt under Nasser became a source of inspiration for opposition and popular movements in much of the Arab world, and Egypt became the regional superpower – which also led an active foreign policy, both globally and regionally.
In 1957, the National Union was formed as the only permissible party in Egypt; in 1962 transformed into the Arab Socialist Union. In the same year, a program was developed for the development of Egypt according to socialist principles.
Parallel to the Soviet Union’s foreign policy reorientation against the United States, Sadat made a political and economic change at home. He introduced a liberal economic policy (infitah), which, among other things, invited foreign investment in business and greater private participation.
After the death of President Nasser, and under al-Sadat’s regime, a new political course change. al-Sadat began a process of multi-party governance, and in 1977 several parties were again allowed. In 1976, he was re-elected for a new six-year term, and in 1978 Nasser’s Socialist Union was effectively dissolved by being merged with Sadat’s newly formed power platform, the National Democratic Party (Hizb al-Dimuqratiyah al-Wataniyah, NDP). The goal of the democratization process was to liberalize Egyptian social life, but also to create a power base for Sadat himself, and to attract financial support from the West.
In the economic sphere there was also liberalization, but partly because of high population growth and lack of land and labor, the social conditions of the masses deteriorated. In 1975 there were riots in Cairo, in protest of the high cost of living and high inflation. When al-Sadat, in 1977, tried to reduce the large government subsidies on some foods, which since the time of Nasser had been a safety valve to reduce poverty, came to violent riots, and he was forced to reverse the decision.
Egypt and Syria signed a defense agreement in 1955. On February 1, 1958, Egypt and Syria joined the United Arab Republic, (United Arab Republic, UAR) with Nasser as president. An invitation was made to other Arab states to join, but only (Northern) Yemen entered into a loose association under the name United Arab States, which then dissolved in 1961. By that time Syria had withdrawn from the UAR that same year. Following the coup in Yemen in 1962, Egypt engaged in the civil war there and had at most 70,000 soldiers in the country. After a military coup in September 1961, Syria withdrew from the union with Egypt.
In 1970, Egypt, Sudan and Libya agreed to enter into a new union, but Sudan withdrew and was replaced in 1971 with Syria. In 1971, a new constitution was passed and the country’s name changed to the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Great Power politics
In 1972, relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated as Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers and experts. One of the reasons for the partial breach was that Egypt believed the Soviet Union was training the supply of weapons at a time when Sadat was under political pressure to go to war against Israel.
Following the peace agreement with Israel, Egypt became one of the largest recipients of military and other assistance from the United States.
A brief historical overview
|30 BCE||Egypt becomes a Roman province|
|395 AD||By the division of the Roman Empire, Egypt comes under the Byzantine Empire|
|641||The Arabs occupy the country|
|969-1171||The Fatimid caliphs have their seat in Egypt|
|1171-1250||The Ayyubid dynasty reigns|
|1250-1517||Egypt is ruled by the Mamluks|
|1517||Egypt becomes a Turkish province|
|1798-1800||France keeps Egypt occupied|
|1869||The Suez Canal opens|
|1882||Britain occupies Egypt and secures full control over the Suez Canal|
|1914||Egypt becomes British protectorate|
|1922||Egypt becomes an independent kingdom|
|1952||King Farouk 1 is ruled, and Egypt becomes a republic the following year|
|1956||The Suez Canal is being nationalized. The UN intervenes in a British-French-Israeli military action (the Suez crisis). The UNEF peacekeeping force is deployed in Gaza and Sinai.|
|1958-1961||Egypt is in union with Syria and Yemen (United Arab Republic)|
|1967||Israel occupies Gaza and Sinai (Six Day War).|
|1970||Old Abdel Nasser dies; followed by Anwar al-Sadat. The Aswan Dam is finished.|
|1973||Egypt goes to war against Israel (October war).|
|1974||Israel agrees to withdraw its forces from the Suez Canal.|
|1975||The Suez Canal is reopened|
|1977||Sadat visits Israel. Bilateral negotiations are initiated.|
|1978||The Camp David agreement with Israel is signed.|
|1979||Peace agreement with Israel is signed. Egypt is excluded from the Arab League.|
|1981||President Sadat is murdered; followed by Hosni Mubarak.|
|1982||Israel returns the last occupied territories in Sinai. The MFO Peace Force is deployed in Sinai.|
|1980s||Large population growth and high unemployment contribute to unstable social conditions. against high food prices.|
|1988||Egypt is resumed in the Arab League.|
|1991||Through its efforts in the Gulf War and the Middle East peace negotiations, Egypt regains its lost in the Arab world.|
|1990s||Muslim fundamentalists are attacking to hit Egypt’s tourism industry, and thus the country’s economy and government.|
|2011||Popular uprising against the regime during the Arab Spring. President Mubarak is forced to step down.|
|2012||Mohamed Morsi is elected president.|
|2013||Morsi is forced to step down after new uprisings. The military leadership takes control of the country.|
|2014||Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is elected new president.|
|2018||Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is re-elected president.|