Biography of Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was a controversial leader of the Arab world.
He was born on january 15, 1918 in Alexandria, Egypt, and he died on September 28, 1970.
Born in a run-down area, of a mud-brick house on an unpaved street in the Bacos section of Alexandria. His father was in charge of the local post office there. From Alexandria, his father was transferred to Al-Khatatibah, a village where he started his formal education.
He went on to live with his uncle that had just been released from a British prison in Cairo.
Most Egyptian publications one will come across will state his birthplace as Bani Murr, a more primitive Upper village of his ancestors. This is because they are trying to create a more earthy image of the president as a member of the class of rural agrarians (fellahin). While growing up, he was always in trouble with his school teachers. Most of them were British, and Nasser would be found taking part in anti-British street demonstrations. Needless to say, that didn’t earn him student of the year in school.
What it did earn him however is a lifelong scar from a blow he received on the forehead in one of the demonstrations. He proceeded to serve in the Egypt army in the Sudan where he met three other fellow officers that changed the course of his lifeZakariyyah Muhyi al-Din or (Zakaria Mohieddine) who later became the vice president of the United Arab Republic, Abd al-Hakim Amir, who later became a field marshal, and Anwar el-Sadat, who eventually succeeded Nasser as president of Egypt.
The four of them started a secret revolutionary organization called the Free Officers, and their aim was to oust the British and Egyptian royal family. He fought in the Arab War against the newly found State of Israel.
In fact, he was one of the officers in one of the three battalions that were surrounded by the Israeli for weeks, in a group of Arab villages called the Faluja Pocket. The Free Officers grew in number and power, and on July 23rd, 1952, he and 89 other Free Officers staged a coup d’état that was almost bloodless, and they succeeded .
Sadat was of the opinion that King Farouk I and some other members of his group be publicly executed, but Nasser didn’t agree to this. Instead, he showed mercy and permitted them to go on exile. With the monarch gone, the country was taken over by a Revolutionary Command Council which consisted 11 officers controlled by Nasser.
Major Muhammad Naguib became head of state, but in fact, he was only a figure head of state, while the person really controlling things was Nasser.
He kept that fact so well hidden that even shrewd foreign correspondents had no idea of his real role in the government.
He came out of hiding in a bold and authoritative show of power when Naguib was deposed and placed under house arrest in the spring of 1954.
Nasser named himself prime minister when this happened.
It was this same year that an attempt was made on Nasser’s life by an Egyptian fanatic at a mass meeting in Alexandria. The gunman was arrested, and confessed that he had been given the job by the Muslim Brotherhood. Upon hearing this, Nasser turned his severe attention down on the extremist Islamic organization.
The election which held in June produced a result where 99.948% of the five million people in Egypt voted for Nasser, who happened to be the only candidate for the presidential position.
With that, Nasser became not just the president of Egypt by control but also by action. With his open ascension to power, the future of Egypt’s economy began to look bright and promising.
On July 20th, 1956, the secretary to the United states, John Foster Dulles cancelled the aid the US made, and Great Britain cancelled the next day as well. In a move to show that he’s in control despite the fact that help fell through, Nasser announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal in a mass meeting in Alexandria five days later. He promised that the tolls that will be generated by Egypt in five years will build the dam.
But, both France and Britain had their eyes on the canal, so they conspired with Israel to take over the dam from Nasser’s hold. On October, their plan kicked into action when the Israeli forces invaded the Sinai Peninsula, and two days later, French and British planes attacked the Egyptians airfields. The Egyptian air force was almost completely destroyed in the attack, and the Israeli fleet occupied the Sinai Peninsula to Sharm al-Shaykh.
In spite of all these, Nasser still emerged from the brief war with his reputation intact throughout the Arab world.By 1958, Syria and Egypt formed the United Arab Republic. He had big dreams for it, hoping that it would include the whole world someday.
His dream was not to be actualized as Syria withdrew in 1961, but Egypt continued to be known as the United Arab Republic up until 1971. On the other hand, he made Egypt a police state, where mail was opened, communications media strictly censored, telephones tapped, chief newspapers nationalized and visitor’s room searched.
There was a complete absence of political democracy as in the western sense, and one party candidates for political offices were handpicked by Nasser and associates closest to him. Political enemies were also driven into concentration camps in the dessert. He was known as a revolutionary leader, and maybe even a complex man, but in his private life, Nasser was simple and conservative.
In fact, no other Arab leader, till date has managed to amass the amount of support from the masses throughout the Middle East as Nasser did in all his years in power.
Nasser was known as a charismatic army officer that was the first pure blood Egyptian to rule Egypt after several millennia of being ruled by outsiders, and restoring the dignity that has been denied the people of Egypt under the rule of those abroad
He died in 1970 from a heart attack.