History Podcasts

Sadat Initiative

Sadat Initiative

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

High defence spending severely damaged the Egyptian economy and in 1977 President Anwar Sadat decided to obtain a peace settlement with Israel. He announced the Sadat Initiative and offered to go to Jerusalem and plead the Arab cause before the Knesset. This offer was accepted and Sadat visited Israel to meet Menachem Begin (19th - 21st November).

Although criticised by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the governments of Syria, Libya and Algeria, Sadat had discussions with Begin at Leeds Castle and Camp David. In September 1978, with the support of Jimmy Carter, the president of the United States, Sadat and Begin signed a peace treaty between the two countries. As a result both men shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.

Sadat Initiative - History

25196. Exdis distribute as Nodis —Cairo pass Atherton. Subject: Secretary’s Meeting With Romanian Emissary Pungan.

1. Romanian Emissary Pungan met with the Secretary for an hour on January 24. President Ceausescu had wanted him to pass Romanian views to the Secretary and to learn what the U.S. thought about the present Middle East situation. Pungan’s presentation reflected the Romanian analysis of recent messages to Ceausescu from both Sadat and Begin, as well as a long meeting which Pungan had with Begin in Jerusalem on January 22.

2. Pungan said that Ceausescu was deeply engaged in the Middle East problem, but not of course as a mediator, having strongly supported the Sadat initiative and having advised both Egypt and Israel that conditions for a settlement as a result were better than ever. Ceausescu , however, was very concerned over the present situation caused by the break-off of the Jerusalem Political Committee talks. He felt that it was essential that channels of communication between Egypt and Israel remain open. For that reason, he considered it important that the Security Committee resume meetings right away since, if it did [Page 570] not, it might kill all prospects of resumption of talks in the Political Committee framework.

3. Pungan reiterated throughout this conversation—as he said he did to Begin—the Romanian view that there were “circles” hoping for a failure of the Israeli-Egyptian negotiations, including the Soviets. It was important, therefore, that Romania and others wanting progress in the present negotiations do their best to get them going again.

4. Turning to the Sinai aspect of the negotiations, Pungan said that Romania had advised both parties to find a formula for using the air fields in common for civilian purposes including tourism, while preserving Egyptian sovereignty over the area. The Sinai settlements problem was far more difficult. Romania had judged that Egypt would do virtually anything, but would never accept any derogation from its sovereign authority. The Romanians had suggested to Egypt that those among the settlers willing to stay under Egyptian administration be allowed to remain, but with no extraterritorial Israeli military protection.

5. The Secretary said that he had made similar suggestions. He sensed that two of the air fields would not present a problem in the end, and that Gamasy and Weizman had demonstrated some confidence, which Sadat did not share, that the problem of the third air field could be resolved satisfactorily. As for the settlements issue, the Secretary said he thought it would have to be resolved by the Heads of Government. If compromise proved impossible, one or the other might have to give in. It was the sorest of all Sinai issues, and its difficulty was compounded by press treatment of it. Sadat could not risk being humiliated, while Begin has made a case that the settlements were vital to Israeli security. For his own part, the Secretary said he did not believe the security argument was convincing. Pungan said that for Sadat, sovereignty was an issue of principle, which could not be tampered with if he was to keep constructive good relations with key Arab states. He noted that Sadat had offered large DMZ’s, and this might be a way out of the problem. The Secretary said we had taken virtually the same line.

6. Pungan and the Secretary agreed that the Palestinian issue was the most delicate and difficult problem in the negotiations. The Secretary explained how we had been trying to use the second agenda item in Political Committee talks to develop a basic negotiating framework for the West Bank/Gaza and Palestinian problems. Pungan said the Romanians sensed that Israel wanted to confine any future negotiations within the narrowest possible limits, involving only Palestinian residents in the occupied territories in a limited self-rule role. Romania believed, however, that it was necessary to involve representatives of the entire Palestinian community in the Middle East, including the [Page 571] PLO, in an exercise in self-determination. One problem is that no one knows for sure whether the PLO and the Palestinian diaspora would in the end accept or reject something less than a fully independent state, for example. The Palestinians were not monolithic, he said. He went on to speculate that, in an initial period, the West Bank and Gaza might develop their own administration and a degree of autonomy, and there would also be changes in basic Arab-Israeli conditions. Who could say for sure whether the PLO and others might find the new situation unacceptable. He concluded that, even if the parties came to an agreement on all other issues, a Middle East settlement will not work unless it deals satisfactorily with the basic Palestinian issue.

7. The Secretary said that we had made clear the need for Palestinian participation in the determination of their future, as in the Aswan statement. There has to be some consent of the governed to what is going on. The only real answer for the question of Palestinian representation, however, would be for the Arab confrontation states to come up with some ideas and suggestions, including perhaps names, acceptable to Israel. He agreed that the Israelis wanted to deal only with the West Bank/Gaza aspect and acknowledged that the overall Palestinian issue had to be resolved in the context of a larger settlement. That broader issue was greater than who represented the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. Pungan argued that it was easier to deal with the basic problem by broadening participation at the beginning. The Secretary said conceptually this was correct, but practically it was not easy.

8. The Secretary noted that Jordan felt the refugee problem should be tackled in smaller steps, dealing initially with the 1967 refugees and displaced persons, and then moving on.

9. Noting that the Romanians believed that the Arabs should now elaborate some concrete proposals in lieu of making demands and statements of principles, Pungan asked whether the West Bank/Gaza under a UN administration would be practical for an interim period. The Secretary said he had proposed this last spring to all parties, but met with a mixed reception. The Israelis were particularly wary of anything with a UN role.

10. The Secretary and Saunders said that the total Middle East problem was so complex and so difficult to digest that there was virtually no choice but to try to break it down into its component elements and deal with them individually.

11. Pungan said another problem was wider Arab participation, with Jordan in the first instance. He had met with both Assad and Arafat shortly after Sadat’s Jerusalem visit. Assad gave him the impression that he was not as opposed to Sadat’s efforts as had been portrayed. He would wait and see the results, but he felt the initiative was not [Page 572] well prepared. Assad made clear he would not close the doors to Syrian involvement in a settlement. Even Arafat , Pungan added, was not 100 percent against the Sadat effort. Pungan did not rule out the possibility that Syria, at some future stage, and even the PLO as well, would accept a formula for their participation. Continuing, Pungan argued that it was not enough to wait for such events all concerned should prepare the ground. Ceausescu had suggested that perhaps another meeting, possibly organized under the UN , could be convened in another city which could provide the cover for bringing in others, including the Soviets.

12. The Secretary commented that the time may come when this would be feasible, but he first wanted to see some progress in the committee talks, and on a declaration of principles. Syria clearly would not go to a meeting in Cairo, nor would the Soviets. He agreed with Pungan that Egypt should at least keep the Syrians and even the Soviets informed of what they have been doing. Pungan said the Soviets will not go to Geneva, for example, merely to put their signature on a settlement already negotiated without their participation. The Secretary said that he, too, tried to keep the Soviets generally informed.

13. The Secretary observed that the PLO had been hurting its cause recently. He noted the murder of the PLO rep in London showed the strains within the PLO.

14. Pungan was gratified that both Sadat and Begin had made comparatively temperate speeches after the Jerusalem break up. It was important that diplomacy through the press be calmed and that the sharp public rhetoric end. This was the thrust of Romanian advice to Begin and Sadat. He was also encouraged by the two parties leaving open a future reconvening of the Security Committee. The Secretary said that his guess was that the Security Committee might be convened within the next seven to fourteen days he was less optimistic about a reconvened Political Committee meeting. It depended upon the atmospherics, and he noted there were ideas for rotating meetings between Cairo and Jerusalem, or even meeting in the Sinai buffer zone.


Origins in universities Edit

Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya began as an umbrella organization for Egyptian militant student groups, formed, like the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, after the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s. [8]

In its early days, the group was primarily active on university campuses, and was mainly composed of university students. Originally they were a minority in the Egyptian student movement which was dominated by leftist Nasserists and Marxists. The leftists were strongly critical of the new Sadat government, and urged Egypt to fight a war of revenge against Israel, while President Sadat wanted to wait and rebuild the military. [12] However, with some "discrete, tactical collaboration" with the government, [13] who sought a "useful counterweight" to its leftist opponents, [14] the group(s) began to grow in influence in 1973.

The Gama'at spread quite rapidly on campuses and won up to one-third of all student union elections. These victories provided a platform from which the associations campaigned for Islamic dress, the veiling of women, and the segregation of classes by gender. Secular university administrators opposed these goals. [15] By March 1976, they were "dominant force" [16] in the student movement and by 1977 "they were in complete control of the universities and had driven the left organizations underground." [8]

Expansion Edit

Having once been favored by the Egyptian government of Anwar Sadat they now threatened it, passionately opposing what they believed was a "shameful peace with the Jews," aka the Camp David Accords with Israel. [17] By 1979, they began to be harassed by the government but their numbers grew steadily. [8] [17] In 1979, Sadat sought to diminish the influence of the associations through a law that transferred most of the authority of the student unions to professors and administrators. During the 1980s, however, Islamists gradually penetrated college faculties. At Assiut University, which was the scene of some of the most intense clashes between Islamists and their opponents (including security forces, secularists, and Copts), the president and other top administrators – who were Islamists – supported Gama'at demands to end mixed-sex classes and to reduce total female enrollment. [15] In other universities Gama'at also forbade the mixing of genders, films, concerts, and dances, and enforced their bans with clubs and iron bars. [18] From the universities the groups reached out to make new recruits, preaching in poor neighbourhoods of cities, and to rural areas. [17] and after a crackdown against them, inmates of Egyptian jails. [ citation needed ]

In April 1981, the group became involved in what was probably started as a clan feud/vendetta about livestock or property lines between Coptic and Muslim Egyptians in the vicinity of Minya, Egypt. The group believed in the position of tributary or dhimmi for Christians in Egypt and opposed any signs of Coptic "arrogance" (istikbar), such as Christian cultural identity and opposition to an Islamic state. The group distributed a leaflet accusing Egypt's one Christian provincial governor (appointed by the government) of providing automatic weapons to Christians to attack Muslims, and the Sadat administration of following orders given by the United States. [19]

Crackdown Edit

In June 1981, a brutal sectarian Muslim-Copt fight broke out in the poor al-Zawaiyya Al Hamra district of Cairo. Over three days of fighting, 17 people were killed, 112 injured, and 171 public and private buildings were damaged. [ citation needed ] "Men and women were slaughtered babies thrown from windows, their bodies crushed on the pavement below there was looting, killing and arson." [20] Islamic Group(s) were accused of participating in the incident and in September 1981, one month before the assassination of Sadat, the Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya were dissolved by the state (although they had never been legally registered in the first place), their infrastructure was destroyed and their leaders arrested. [8]

Assassination of president Anwar Sadat Edit

In 1980, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad under the leadership of Muhammad abd-al-Salam Faraj, formed a coalition with the Gama'a under the leadership of Karam Zuhdi, with both agreeing to follow the guidance of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. One of Faraj's groups was responsible for the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. [21] Following the assassination, Karam Zuhdi expressed regret for conspiring with Egyptian Islamic Jihad in the assassination, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Zuhdi was among the 900 militants who were set free in April 2006 by the Egyptian government. [9]

Omar Abdel-Rahman Edit

The cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman was the spiritual leader of the movement. He was accused of participating in the World Trade Center 1993 bombings conspiracy, and was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his espousal of a subsequent conspiracy to bomb New York City landmarks, including the United Nations and FBI offices. The Islamic Group had publicly threatened to retaliate against the United States if Rahman was not released from prison. However, the group later renounced violence and their leaders and members were released from prison in Egypt. [10] Abdel-Rahman died on 18 February 2017.

1990s terrorism campaign Edit

While the Islamic group had originally been an amorphous movement of local groups centered in mosques without offices or membership roll, by the late 1980s it became more organized and "even adopted an official logo: an upright sword standing on an open Qur'an with an orange sun rising in the background," encircled by the Qur'anic verse that Abdel Rahman had quoted at his trials while trying to explain his interpretation of jihad to the judges:

وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لاَ تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِلّهِ فَإِنِ انتَهَواْ فَلاَ عُدْوَانَ إِلاَّ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ

Fight them on until there is no more Tumult, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.

This became the official motto of the group. [22]

The 1990s saw Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya engage in an extended campaign of violence, from the murders and attempted murders of prominent writers and intellectuals, to the repeated targeting of tourists and foreigners. Serious damage was done to the largest sector of Egypt's economy – tourism [23] – and in turn to the government, but it also devastated the livelihoods of many of the people on whom the group depends for support. [24]

Victims of campaign against the Egyptian state from 1992 to 1997 totaled more than 1200 [25] and included the head of the counter-terrorism police (Major General Raouf Khayrat), a speaker of parliament (Rifaat al-Mahgoub), dozens of European tourists and Egyptian bystanders, and over 100 Egyptian police. [26]

The 1991 killing of the group's leader, Ala Mohieddin, presumably by security forces, led Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya to murder Egypt's speaker of parliament in retaliation. In June 1995, working together with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the group staged a carefully planned attempt on the life of President Mubarak, led by Mustafa Hamza, a senior Egyptian member of the Al-Qaeda and commander of the military branch of the Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. Mubarak escaped unharmed and retaliated with a massive and ruthless crackdown on GI members and their families in Egypt. [27]

Tal'at Fu'ad Qasim was arrested in Croatia in 1995. [28]

Failed nonviolence initiative Edit

By 1997, the movement had become paralyzed. 20,000 Islamists were in custody in Egypt and thousands more had been killed by the security forces. In July of that year, Islamist lawyer Montassir al-Zayyat brokered a deal between the Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian government, called the Nonviolence Initiative, whereby the movement formally renounced violence. The next year the government released 2,000 members of the Islamic Group. After the initiative was declared Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman also gave his approval from his prison cell in the United States, though he later withdrew it.

The initiative divided the Islamic Group between members in Egypt who supported it and those in exile who wanted the attacks to continue. Leading the opposition was EIJ leader Ayman Zawahiri who termed it "surrender" in angry letters to the London newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat. [29]

Temple of Hatshepsut attack Edit

Zawahiri enlisted Ahmed Refai Taha, both exiles in Afghanistan with him, to sabotage the initiative with a massive terrorism attack that would provoke the government into repression. [30] So on 17 November 1997 Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya killing campaign climaxed with the attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut (Deir el-Bahri) in Luxor, in which a band of six men dressed in police uniforms machine-gunned and hacked to death with knives 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians. "The killing went on for 45 minutes, until the floors streamed with blood. The dead included a five-year-old British child and four Japanese couples on their honeymoons." Altogether 71 people were killed. The attack stunned Egyptian society, devastated the tourist industry for a number of years, and consequently sapped a large segment of popular support for violent Islamism in Egypt.

The revulsion of Egyptians and rejection of jihadi terrorism was so complete, the attack's supporters backpedaled. The day after the attack, Refai Taha claimed the attackers intended only to take the tourists hostage, despite the evidence of the systematic nature of the slaughter. Others denied Islamist involvement completely. Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman blamed Israelis for the killings, and Zawahiri maintaining the Egyptian police had done it. [31]

When Refai Taha signed the al-Qaeda fatwa "International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders" to kill Crusaders and Jews on behalf of the Islamic Group, he was "forced to withdraw his name" from the fatwa, explaining to fellow members . than he had "only been asked over the telephone to join in a statement of support for the Iraqi people." [32]

Attacks Edit

Major attacks by Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya:

  • 8 June 1992 – assassination of Farag Foda.
  • 26 June 1995 – attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • 20 October 1995 – Car bomb attack on police station in Rijeka, Croatia.
  • 28 April 1996 – a mass shooting outside the Europa Hotel, Cairo, killing 17 Greek tourists mistaken for Israelis. [33][34][35]
  • 17 November 1997 – Luxor massacre at Deir el-Bahri, Luxor, Egypt. 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians killed.

It was also responsible for a spate of tourist shootings (trains and cruise ships sprayed with bullets) in middle and upper Egypt during the early 1990s. As a result of those attacks, cruise ships ceased sailing between Cairo and Luxor.

Renouncing terrorism Edit

After spending more than two decades in prison and after intense debates and discussions with Al-Azhar scholars, most of the leaders of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya have written several books renouncing their ideology of violence and some of them went as far as calling ex-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, whom they assassinated, a martyr.

Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya renounced bloodshed in 2003, [36] and in September 2003 Egypt freed more than 1,000 members, citing what Interior Minister Habib el-Adli called the group's stated "commitment to rejecting violence." [9]

Harsh repressive measures by the Egyptian government and the unpopularity of the killing of foreign tourists have reduced the group's profile in recent years but the movement retains popular support among Egyptian Islamists who disapprove of the secular nature of Egypt's society and peace treaty with Israel.

In April 2006, the Egyptian government released approximately 1200 members, including a founder, Nageh Ibrahim, from prison. [37] [38]

Reportedly, there have been "only two instances where members showed signs of returning to their former violent ways, and in both cases they were betrayed by informants within their own group." [39]

2011 revolution Edit

Following the 2011 Revolution, Al-Gamaa al-Islamiya established a political party, the Building and Development Party. In August 2011, it presented 6,700 proxies (signatures) to the Egyptian political parties' committee on behalf of its party. In a statement the Gamaa said that any legislation drafted in Egypt after the revolution must refer to the sharia of God, "who blessed us with this revolution. We believe that the suffering we endured during the past years was due to neglecting religion and putting those who don't fear [God] in power." It also stated that "Islam can contain everyone and respects the freedom of followers of other religions to refer to their own sharia in private affairs." [40]

The Building and Development Party contested the 2011–2012 elections to the People's Council, the lower house of the Egyptian parliament, as part of the Islamic Alliance which was led by the salafi Al-Nour Party. It gained 13 seats: 12 in Upper Egypt and one in Suez. [11] [41]

In June 2013, Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi appointed Adel el-Khayat, a member of the group, as governor of Luxor. [42] el-Khayat resigned within a week of his appointment due to public unrest related to the group's commission of the 1997 massacre in Luxor. [43]

One scholar studying the group, Gilles Kepel, found that the group repeatedly used the name of radical Islamist theorist Sayyid Qutb, and often quoted from his manifesto, Ma'alim fi al-Tariq (Milestones), in their leaflets and newsletters. They emphasized the right to legislate belongs to God alone and that divine unity (tawhid) in Islam signifies liberation (tahrir) from all that is corrupt in thought –including the liberation of all that is inherited or conventional, like customs and traditions. [44]

There was a scant supply of any writing by the group's members, but some issues leading writer(s) of the gama'at thought worth mentioning included:

  • Youth must be taught that Islam was nizam kamil wa shamil (a complete and perfect system) and must regulate government and war, the judicial system and the economy.
  • Egypt's disastrous 1967 War was the result of following Arab nationalism rather than Islam.
  • Signs of the growth of an Islamic movement were the wearing of the veil by women and the white gallabieh and untrimmed beard by men, early marriage, and attendance at public prayers on the major Muslim festivals, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-adha. [45]

While secularist social analyses of Egypt's socioeconomic problems maintained that poverty was caused by overpopulation or high defense expenditures, Al-Gama'at saw the cause in the populace's spiritual failures – laxness, secularism, and corruption. The solution was a return to the simplicity, hard work, and self-reliance of earlier Muslim life. [15]

Deputy leader of al-Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri announced a new alliance with a faction of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. In a video released on the internet on 5 August 2006. [9] Zawahiri said "We bring good tidings to the Muslim nation about a big faction of the knights of Al-Gama'a Islamiyya uniting with Al-Qaeda," and the move aimed to help "rally the Muslim nation's capabilities in a unified rank in the face of the most severe crusader campaign against Islam in its history." An Al-Gama'a leader, Muhammad al-Hukaymah, appeared in the video and confirmed the unity move. [46] However, Hukaymah acknowledged that other Al-Gama'a members had "backslid" from the militant course he was keeping to, and some Al-Gama'a representatives also denied that they were joining forces with the international Al-Qaeda network. [47] Sheikh Abdel Akhar Hammad, a former Al-Gama'a leader, told Al-Jazeera: "If [some] brothers have joined, then this is their own personal view and I don't think that most Al-Gama'a members share that same opinion." [48]

Countries and organizations below have officially listed the Jamaa Islamia as a terrorist organization. [49]

The Idea for a Summit Forms

Despite high hopes triggered by Sadat’s visit, a negotiating breakthrough proved elusive. “The Israeli approach was very legalistic and focused on details,” Kurtzer says, “while the Egyptian approach was focused on the big picture.”

Complicating matters was a devastating terrorist attack along Israel’s Coastal Highway, followed by a bloody Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon, a stronghold for Palestinian militants.

As frustrations mounted, Carter, who stayed involved in negotiations every step of the way, looked to stop the talks from collapsing. Taking the advice of his wife, Rosalynn, he eventually settled on inviting Sadat and Begin to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, believing the bucolic setting might soften the acrimony on all sides.

This strategy was hardly risk free. Carter’s popularity was suffering from rising inflation, unemployment and energy prices, and his advisers worried that a failure at Camp David would make him look weak. Even his vice president, Walter Mondale, warned against it, telling him, “If you fail we’re done. We will sap our stature as national leaders.”

Regional implications

Playing on regional rifts in the Arab world, with the divide between the Gulf states and Iran, Israeli officials and analysts speak of an unofficial “moderate axis” of Arab countries that are purportedly working behind the scenes with the Israeli government.

In this “alliance”, Western-backed countries including Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf states, as well as Jordan and Morocco, are said to be pitted against “common enemies” Syria, Iran, ISIL, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Kessler believes the tighter Egyptian-Israeli partnership is “being received with quiet approval by traditional US allies in the region, such as the monarchies of the Gulf states and Jordan, who see those relations as useful in confronting shared adversaries.

“More broadly, those ties help shore up the camp of those relatively pro-Western regimes against the ‘resistance’ camp led by Iran and its proxies including the Syrian regime and Hezbollah,” he added.

Modallal, however, says this strategy will only mean more divide and instability for the region.

“Israel’s success in creating an ‘axis of relatively moderate states’ allows it to suffocate Iran by creating a basis for regional cooperation against it. This would fuel the conflict between the Arabs and Iran, in a way that would lead to the destruction of Israel’s two foes at the same time.”

He says that given the lack of any Arab country that could challenge Israel’s strength, strengthening this divide will allow Israel to achieve its strategic goals, and secure its superiority, while Arab countries are mired in conflict.

Egypt’s foreign policy towards Israel today is not much different from that of Mubarak’s, who, like Sisi, was a former military man.

The main aspects of bilateral ties, explains Joudeh, have remained intact, as historically, the relationship with Israel has been handled by the Egyptian army.

But the difference now, she says, is that under Sisi and his military-backed government, “the lines between political decision-making and national security strategy have become blurred”.

Sadat Initiative - History

"Sadat! Sadat!" tens of thousands of Cairenes chanted at the grinning figure in the open limousine. &apos&aposSadat! The man of peace!&apos&apos It was the night of Nov. 21, 1977. President Anwar el-Sadat had just returned from his epochal journey to Jerusalem. Egypt&aposs people were giving their frenzied approval to what his trip had achieved - an Egyptian-Israeli thaw that set the stage for the peace treaty of 1979.

What made Mr. Sadat into such a catalytic force in Middle Eastern history was a display of courage and flexibility that transformed what had seemed to be an average Arab officer-turned-potentate.

Unlike so many of his brother Arab leaders, he was willing to ignore past Arab-Israeli hatreds. Unlike them all, he was daring enough to do what had been unthinkable in the anguished world of Arab politics - to extend the hand of peace to the Israeli foe. Reversing Egypt&aposs longstanding policy, he proclaimed his willingness to accept Israel&aposs existence as a sovereign state.

Admiration and Hatred

Then, where so many Middle East negotiators had failed, he succeeded, along with Presidents Carter and Reagan and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel, in keeping the improbable rapprochement alive.

In the process he earned himself, in addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, the admiration of Americans, Israelis and other supporters of a Middle East settlement. But he also drew outpourings of hatred from Palestinians and other Arabs who felt he was a traitor to their struggles against Israel. And he was unable to quash dissidence in his impoverished, seething homeland.

He often said he wanted to bequeath democratic institutions to his people, but in recent weeks he staged a dictatorial crackdown on militant Moslems and Coptic Christians as well as secular political opponents. And he claimed imperially - but hollowly, as it turned out - to have put an end to &apos&aposlack of discipline in any way or form.&apos&apos

Eleven days before Mr. Sadat made his trip to Jerusalem, he said in Cairo that he was willing to go to &apos&aposthe ends of the earth,&apos&apos and even to the Israeli Parliament, in the cause of peace. The Israeli Government made known that he was welcome in Jerusalem, and after complex negotiations he flew there, although a state of war still existed between the two nations.

His eyes were moist and his lips taut with suppressed emotion as he arrived, but his Arabic was firm and resonant when, hours later, he told the hushed Israeli Parliament, &apos&aposIf you want to live with us in this part of the world, in sincerity I tell you that we welcome you among us with all security and safety.&apos&apos

Praising Mr. Sadat&aposs initiative, Prime Minister Begin said, &apos&aposWe, the Jews, know how to appreciate such courage.&apos&apos Mr. Sadat&aposs flexibility, he said later, stemmed from his solitary confinement as a political prisoner in cell 54 of Cairo Central Prison in 1947 and 1948. &apos&aposMy contemplation of life and human nature in that secluded place taught me that he who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality and will never, therefore, make any progress,&apos&apos he wrote in his memoirs, &apos&aposIn Search of Identity,&apos&apos which appeared in 1978, eight years after he assumed the Presidency.

Pact Signed at White House

His willingness to make such a change led to the treaty that, after many snags, he and Prime Minister Begin signed at the White House on March 26, 1979. Before reaching agreement Mr. Sadat and Mr. Begin had drawn-out and sometimes acrimonious negotiations, for which they were the joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.

The treaty provided that Israel return to Egypt in phases the entire Sinai Peninsula, which the Israelis seized in the 1967 war. It also envisioned internal autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank of the Jordan River under continued Israeli control. The Egyptian and Israeli Governments were helped and prodded by the Nixon and Carter Administrations, and Henry A. Kissinger, after many meetings with Mr. Sadat, wrote that the Egyptian leader &apos&apospossessed that combinat ion of insight and courage which marks a great statesman.&apos&apos The former Secretary of State continued in his book, &apos&aposWhite House Years&apos&apos: &apos&aposHe had the boldness to go to a war no one thought he could sustain the moderation to move to peace immediately afterward and the wisdom to reverse attitudes hardened by decades.&apos&apos

Used Harmony as a Technique

In dealings with Israel and the United States, Mr. Sadat strove to create a harmonious mood that would make it difficult for others to disagree with him. His most audacious use of that technique was the Jerusalem visit.

That gesture and the treaty with Israel brought him hatred and vituperation from many Arab leaders. There was particular outrage because the treaty did not provide a timetable for full self-determination for the West Bank Palestinians that would lead eventually to an independent Palestinian state.

Self-determination was originally Mr. Sadat&aposs minimum demand when he settled for less, he found himself virtually isolated in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia&aposs leaders, with whom he had achieved warm relations, cut back their aid to the Egyptian armed forces and the economy, which Mr. Sadat had tried to strengthen by encouraging business.

The Saudi action made Egypt more dependent than ever on support from the United States, with which Mr. Sadat had also been careful to cultivate bonds of friendship. Under his predecessor, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Cairo&aposs relations with the Americans, as with the Saudis, were hostile much of the time. Mr. Sadat won moral and political support from Washington as well as large-scale economic and military aid, and in 1975 he became the first Egyptian President to make a state visit to the United States. He returned again during the treaty negotiations, and President Carter went to Egypt, where throngs hailed him and his host.

Treaty Welcomed by Egyptians

Many of the 40 million Egyptians, having gone through four painful and expensive wars with Israel, were enthusiastic about the peace treaty. Throngs of well-wishers danced, waved signs and threw rose petals in celebration.

Under the treaty Israel&aposs withdrawal of its civilian and military forces from Sinai was to be carried out in stages over three years. Two-thirds of the area was to be handed back within nine months after the exchange of formal ratification documents. In return for the Israeli pullback, Mr. Sadat agreed to establish peace. After the nine-month withdrawal was finished, the two Governments were to take up &apos&aposnormal and friendly relations&apos&apos in the diplomatic, economic and cultural spheres, among others. The early withdrawals were completed, and the final phase is scheduled for next April.

&apos&aposThis is certainly one of the happiest moments of my life,&apos&apos Mr. Sadat, deeply moved, said at the signing ceremony. &apos&aposIn all the steps I took I was merely expressing the will of a nation. I am proud of my people and of belonging to them.&apos&apos

Expels Soviet Advisers

Another of Mr. Sadat&aposs major shifts in policy was his departure from Nasser&aposs longstanding pro-Soviet stance. In July 1972 he abruptly ordered the withdrawal of the 25,000 Soviet military specialists and advisers in Egypt. By so doing, he later wrote, &apos&aposI wanted to tell the whole world that we are always our own masters.&apos&apos

The changes in the relationship with Washington and Moscow were made after Mr. Sadat had concluded that the Arabs could not achieve a satisfactory end to their confrontation with Israel as long as they were allied closely with the Soviet Union while Israel had the all out support of the United States.

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. A career officer and longtime confidant of Nasser, he was named Vice President in 1969, came out ahead in a brief power struggle after Nasser&aposs death in 1970 and was formally made President by a rubber-stamp vote of members of the Arab Socialist Union, the only legal political organization. He consolidated and enlarged his power in the spring of 1971 when, with the aid of the army, he forestalled what he said was a coup and arrested his opponents.

Called Himself a Peasant

Mr. Sadat was widely though not universally popular with the Egyptian people, with whom, in his highly emotional way, he felt a warm and almost mystic bond. In &apos&aposIn Search of Identity,&apos&apos he proudly called himself &apos&aposa peasant born and brought up on the banks of the Nile.&apos&apos

Early in his presidency, Mr. Sadat enhanced his popularity by eliminating many of the police-state controls that Nasser had relied on to keep himself in power in the years after the officers&apos revolt that brought down the monarchy in 1952.

In 1973 Mr. Sadat did much to build national self-respect when he ordered Egyptian troops to cross the Suez Canal they managed to overrun the heavily fortified Israeli positions on the east bank within a few hours. That confidence lingered although the Israelis counterattacked, putting a large tank force on the west bank.

As an administrator, he concerned himself with broad lines of policy and for the most part left it to his subordinates to carry it out. Though an emotional man, he could conceal his feelings and be devious. He repeatedly lied his way out of trouble when he was a young officer plotting a military revolt, and as President he pulled off a master stroke of deception when he concealed his preparations for the 1973 war, which began with a surprise attack on Israel.

Mr. Sadat had many quirks. He disliked offices and rarely appeared at Abdin Palace, Cairo&aposs equivalent of the White House, preferring to work in his modest villa and in Government-owned rest houses around the country. He wore elegantly cut British-style suits, though even as President he liked to stroll around his native village in a long Arab shirt. He never learned to dance. He could be the high-toned statesman one minute, relishing his associations with other world leaders, and the humdrum homebody the next, always beginning the day with a dose of Eno&aposs Fruit Salts, a British-made aid to digestion.

Mohammed Anwar el-Sadat was born Dec. 25, 1918, in Mit Abul Kom, a cluster of mud-brick buildings in Minufiya Province between Cairo and Alexandria. He was one of the 13 children of Mohammed el-Sadat, a Government clerk, and his part-Sudanese wife, a heritage manifest in the boy&aposs skin, darker than the average Egyptian&aposs.

Minufiya lies in the fertile Nile Delta, its irrigated fields producing rich crops of flax and cotton. In those lush surroundings young Anwar&aposs early years passed happily. He wrote later that he had especially relished the sunrise hour &apos&aposwhen I went out with scores of boys and men, young and old, taking our cattle and beasts of burden to the fields.&apos&apos

His first schooling was at the hands of a kindly Islamic cleric, Sheik Abdul-Hamid, who instilled in him a deep and lasting faith in Islam as an adult Mr. Sadat bore a dark mark on his forehead, the result of repeatedly touching his head to the floor in prayer.

Too Poor to Buy Store Bread

In 1925 the father was transferred to Cairo, and the family moved into a small house on the outskirts of the capital, not far from Kubba Palace, one of the residences of Egyptian kings. Anwar gave early evidence of the audacity he repeatedly showed in later life, stealing apricots from the royal orchard.

Though the elder Mr. Sadat rose to be a senior clerk, the family was poor, so poor that it could not afford to buy bakery bread. In his memoirs President Sadat said that his early experience of village life, with its &apos&aposfraternity, cooperation and love,&apos&apos gave him the self-confidence to make his way in the big city, &apos&aposIt deepened my feeling of inner superiority, a feeling which has never left me and which, I came to realize, is an inner power independent of all material resources.&apos&apos

In time the proud schoolboy, like other idealistic Egyptians of his generation, came to have a burning political desire: he wanted his country freed of the control of Britain, which had maintained troops there and exercised sway in other ways since the decline of Ottoman Turkish power late in the 19th century.

Wanting to play a role in Egypt&aposs future, Mr. Sadat decided to become an officer. Despite his family&aposs lack of influence, he managed to gain admission to the Royal Military Academy, which was once a preserve of the aristocracy but had begun taking cadets from the middle and lower classes. Graduating in 1938, he was assigned to a signal corps installation near the capital. From that central location, as he later told it, he became active in the formation of an organization of officers who wanted to mount an armed revolt against the British presence.

Britain as the Main Foe

When World War II broke out, Captain Sadat continued to regard Britain as the main enemy and took part in a clandestine attempt to fly a former Chief of Staff, Gen. Aziz el-Masri, out of the country after the Germans had sent a message asking him to proceed to Iraq to work against British interests there. The plane crashed, the attempt failed and Captain Sadat was arrested and interrogated but later was released for lack of evidence.

Undeterred, Captain Sadat made contact with two Nazi agents who passed the evenings watching the dancers at the Kit Kat, a leading Cairo nightclub. Their heavy spending brought them under surveillance, they were arrested and interrogated, and they implicated their contact. As a result a swarm of British and Egyptian detectives and intelligence officers searched Captain Sadat&aposs home. His hidden cache of homemade explosives went undetected, b ut he was arrested and sent to a succession of jails. While in jail, he profited from the time by polishing his English and learning German.

In 1944 Captain Sadat went on a hunger strike and was transferred to a prison hospital, where he dodged his guard, jumped into a friend&aposs car and escaped. He then grew a beard and lived as a fugitive for a year, helping for a time with work on a resthouse being built for King Farouk, who later was to be ousted by the junta of which Captain Sadat was a part.

Free to Plot Once Again

With the end of the war came the lifting of the martial-law regulations under which Captain Sadat had been detained, enabling him to resume his real identity in freedom. He also resumed plotting against the British and their Egyptian supporters. After a fellow conspirator assassinated Amin Osman Pasha, an aristocrat who favored the British presence, Captain Sadat was tried as a conspirator and acquitted in 1948.

He worked for a while in a Cairo publishing house and in 1950 got himself reinstated in the army. He was soon promoted, thanks to help from the dissident officers&apos clandestine network, the Free Officers Organization, which had been growing in size and power under the leadership of an old friend, Lieutenant Colonel Nasser. The colonel summoned Major Sadat to a rendezvous in Cairo on July 22, 1952, saying the long-awaited uprising, now focused on King Farouk, was to take place soon. When Nasser did not appear, the major took his wife to the movies. Arriving home late in the evening, they found a note from Nasser saying operations were beginning that night and directing Major Sadat to join the revolutionaries.

&apos&aposMy heart leapt,&apos&apos Mr. Sadat recalled in one of his books, &apos&aposRevolt on the Nile.&apos&apos &apos&aposI tore off my civilian clothes and threw on my uniform. In five minutes I was at the wheel of my car.&apos&apos

At army headquarters, where the rebels had taken control, Nasser told him to take over the Cairo radio at dawn and to broadcast a proclamation announcing the coup. Major Sadat carried out that historic task after waiting for the daily reading from the Koran to be completed.

The revolution led to the exile of Farouk, the withdrawal of British troops from Egypt and, before long, the emergence of Nasser as strongman and President.

Although Mr. Sadat filled high posts during the Nasser era, his abilities were underestimated by many influential men in the Nasser entourage. For more than a decade he was given a succession of jobs that were highly visible but of secondary importance. He served as a member of the Revolutionary Command Council, secretary general of an Islamic congress, editor of two newspapers, minister of state in the Cabinet deputy chairman, chairman and speaker of the National Assembly and chairman of the Afro-Asian Solidarity Council.

When Nasser named Mr. Sadat Vice President, it was widely thought that he got the job because it was largely ceremonial and had no real power, but supporters of Mr. Sadat have contended that Nasser chose him to be his successor. Nasser, at odds with many other longtime associates, retained warm relations with Mr. Sadat.

Upon Nasser&aposs death of a heart attack, Mr. Sadat, as the only Vice President, automatically became Acting President under the Constitution. In that office and in his first months as President he had to share power in a collective leadership with others some colleagues supported him for the presidency because they thought he could be manipulated.

In those first weeks many Egyptians, especially students and young intellectuals, found it difficult to take him seriously. With his grin, his fancy suits and his frequent hollow-sounding vows to wage war on Israel, he did not seem to be a strong and purposeful leader.

He showed his strength of will when, after a few months, he moved to consolidate his power by dismissing and imprisoning two of the most powerful figures in the regime, Vice President Ali Sabry, who had close ties with Soviet officials, and Sharawy Gomaa, the Interior Minister, who controlled the secret police.

Mr. Sadat enhanced his popularity by displaying an intuitive sense of what the people wanted. He was doing what they wanted when he cut back the powers of the hated secret police, when he ousted the Soviet military experts and when he prepared for war with Israel. Nevertheless, Golda Meir, Israel&aposs Prime Minister when he took office, correctly appraised him, she later wrote, as a &apos&aposreasonable man who might soberly consider the benefits&apos&apos of ending the confronta tion with Israel.

Early in 1973 Mr. Sadat decided to go to war against Israel. He was being criticized by students and others as an ineffective leader, and he concluded that it was necessary to break the Egyptian-Israeli deadlock. &apos&aposIf we don&apost take our case into our own hands, there will be no movement,&apos&apos he said in an interview. &apos&aposThe time has come for a shock. The resumption of the battle is now inevitable.&apos&apos

&aposLandmark&apos for Egyptians

After Moscow approved a limited Egyptian invasion of Sinai and after more Soviet arms arrived, Mr. Sadat ordered the attack on Oct. 6. Egyptian troops surged across the canal and Syrian troops struck Israel from their side. In the fighting that followed, the Syrians were thrown back and the Israelis counterattacked fiercely, encircling Suez and carving out a broad bridgehead west of the canal. Despite Israel&aposs strong showing, Mr. Sadat, in his memoirs, maintained that &apos&aposthe Egyptian military performance was a landmark in world military history&apos&apos and that &apos&aposif the United States hadn&apost intervened in the war and fully supported Israel, the situation could have been far different.&apos&apos

The war spurred Washington to work to ease tensions in the Middle East Mr. Sadat was soon visited by Mr. Kissinger. The two hit it off from the first and, Mr. Sadat wrote, began &apos&aposa relationship of mutual understanding culminating and crystallizing in what we came to describe as a &apospeace process.&apos &apos&apos Before long Mr. Kissinger was able to work out a disengagement agreement between Egypt and Israel that allowed the Egyptians to take back a strip of Sinai. Mr. Sadat welcomed American participation and said later, &apos&aposNo one else except the United States can play this role of mediator between two sides that harbor intense hate for one another - a gulf of bad blood, violence and massacres.&apos&apos

The agreement, signed in January 1974, was followed by months of &apos&aposshuttle diplomacy&apos&apos by Mr. Kissinger and by a second limited Egyptian-Israeli accord in September 1975. Efforts toward a more comprehensive peace agreement bore no fruit in the next months, however, although the United States and the Soviet Union agreed on Oct. 1, 1977, on principles to govern a Geneva conference on the Middle East. Syria continued to resist such a conference.

Need for a New Approach

At that point Mr. Sadat, not wanting to let Moscow and Damascus determine the pace of events, decided that a new approach was needed. Disregarding objections from his advi sers, he made the trip to Jerusalem. He told the Israeli Parliment that Egypt&aposs willingness to &apos&aposwelcome you among us&apos&apos amounted to &apos&aposa decisive historical change,&apos&apos but he continued to insist that the Israelis withdraw from occupied Arab land and recognize what he call ed the rights of the Palestinians. He claimed a new-found friendship with Mr. Begin and set in motion the first high-level Egyptian-Israeli peace talks.

When Mr. Sadat returned to Cairo, he told his people that &apos&aposall barriers of doubt, mistrust and fear were shattered.&apos&apos But the negotiations bogged down over differences on the Palestinians and other issues by January 1978 they were deadlocked, with Mr. Sadat denouncing the Israelis as stiff-necked. That deadlock prevailed until Mr. Sadat met with Mr. Begin and President Carter in September 1978 at the Camp David conference called by Mr. Carter. Two weeks of talks produced signed agreements on what was called &apos&aposa framework for peace.&apos&apos

After further efforts Mr. Carter flew to Jerusalem and then to Cairo on March 13, 1979, with compromise proposals to break yet another deadlock, and Mr. Sadat approved them quickly in a meeting at a Cairo airport. Later that month Mr. Sadat and Mr. Begin signed the treaty, ending 30 years of Egyptian-Israeli confrontation. &apos&aposLet us work together,&apos&apos Mr. Sadat said, paraphrasing the Prophet Isaiah, &apos&aposuntil the day comes when they beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.&apos&apos

In the hard-line Arab protest against the treaty, 17 Arab nations adopted political and economic sanctions against his Government. Yet his isolation in the Arab world did not undercut his domestic support he deftly reaped political profit from the isolation by underscoring the idea, widespread in Egypt, that other Arabs had grown wealthy while the Egyptians had borne the burden of the four wars.

Economy Displayed Strength

His popularity benefited also from the fairly strong condition of the economy, which had seemed on the brink of disaster after Egypt&aposs catastrophic defeat in the 1967 war. By late 1979 the economic growth rate had reached 9 percent a year and was one of the highest in the developing world, thanks largely to more than $1 billion a year in American aid.

President Sadat&aposs relations with the Americans and the Israelis, despite some intense friction, remained relatively harmonious in the months after the signing of the treaty. That good will paid off when, as a gesture of friendship, Mr. Begin fulfilled one provision of the treaty ahead of time, returning a 580-square-mile tract of Sinai to Egypt on Nov. 15, 1979, instead of on Jan. 25, as scheduled. Yet no real progress was made in months of Egyptian-Israeli negotiations on home rule for the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Early in 1980 Mr. Sadat held inconclusive talks with Mr. Begin at Aswan, in upper Egypt. Israeli forces withdrew from more of Sinai, leaving two-thirds of the area evacuated. The Israeli-Egyptian border was declared open, and the two countries exchanged ambassadors. In March 1980 Mr. Sadat drew new criticism at home and in unfriendly Arab capitals when the deposed Shah of Iran, who was ill, moved to Cairo, accepting a longstanding invitation.

As the new decade got under way, President Sadat seemed confident of his policies, but events seemed to have taken a somewhat unfavorable turn. Cairo&aposs isolation in the Arab world and elsewhere in the third world was galling, and the almost total reliance on Washington for food, aid and weapons was a source of concern.Inflation was running at a rate of 30 percent a year, there were signs of increasing repression, and Israel&aposs policy of multiplying settlements on the occupied West Bank intensified pessimism.

In April 1980 President Sadat visited Washington to discuss the Israeli settlements with President Carter. From there he denounced the Israeli policy as &apos&aposunfounded, ill-conceived and illegal.&apos&apos

In the final months of Mr. Sadat&aposs life, as his intricate and sometimes stormy dialogue with Israel continued, there were repeated expressions of internal opposition to his rule. They continued, and mounted, despite his general popularity and his continued use of such means as government food-subsidies to dampen disconent.

Early this year Egypt&aposs leftist National Unionist Progressive Party publicly denounced Mr. Sadat&aposs policies toward Israel. &apos&aposThis so-called normalization with the Israeli enemy was done at the expense of the Arabs and was opposed by a growing number of Egyptians,&apos&apos a party statement said.

In June a Government prosecutor said a former Egyptian Chief of Staff, Lieut. Gen. Saad Eddin el-Shazli, and 18 other Egyptian dissidents living abroad had plotted to overthrow Mr. Sadat. They were said to have been given $2.8 million by Libya at Syria&aposs urging. And the head of the Egyptian Bar Association complained that Mr. Sadat&aposs regime was trying to dismember the as sociation&aposs leadership because it had opposed the peace treaty with Israel.

Yet Mr. Sadat continued to give much of his attention to foreign affairs. In June he met inconclusively with Mr. Begin, for the first time in 17 months. In the meeting in an abandoned restaurant at Sharm el Sheik in Sinai, the Israeli leader rejected Mr. Sadat&aposs appeal to halt Israeli attacks on Palestinian guerrilla bases in Lebanon.

Denounced Bombing of Iraq

A few days later Mr. Sadat was denouncing Israel for its bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor, which he called an &apos&aposunlawful, provocative&apos&apos act. It was embarrassing to him because Mr. Begin had told him nothing about it.

On Aug. 3 Egypt and Israel signed an agremeent establishing a 2,500-member international peacekeeping force in Sinai to police their peace treaty. On Aug. 5 and 6 Mr. Sadat held friendly but inconclusive talks with President Reagan in Washington. And on Aug. 25 and 26 he and Mr. Begin met yet again, this time in the Egyptian port of Alexandria, to try to resolve problems that had delayed normalization of relations.

But then Mr. Sadat turned his full attention to internal affairs, evidently acting in response to information about the extent of dissidence in his perennially unstable land. Citing Moslem and other opposition to his regime, he departed markedly from the largely velvet-glove treatment of opponents that had characterized his 11 years of rule.

He cracked down hard, detaining 1,600 opponents, mostly Moslem militants, partly in response to bloody rioting in June between Moslems and members of Egypt&aposs Coptic Christian minority. After a hastily called referendum, his Government reported that 99.45 percent of the voters endorsed its measures to curb secular as well as religious dissidence. Moslem dissidents resented the rapprochement with Israel and wanted a more Islamic cast to Egypt&aposs government.

&aposSuffering&apos From Democracy

At a news conference Sept. 9, Mr. Sadat made a wry reference to his country&aposs heritage of violence and to the opposition to his rule. To a foreign reporter who asked an impertinent question, he said, &apos&aposIn other times I would have shot you, but it is democracy I am really suffering from as much as I am suffering from the opposition.&apos&apos

Also last month Mr. Sadat accused a dozen former Egyptian officials of &apos&aposconniving&apos&apos with the Soviet Union to destabilize his Government. He ordered the expulsion of more than 1,000 Soviet citizens, including the Soviet Ambassador, Vladimir P. Polyakov.

The Government-supervised Egyptian press reported that Egyptian intelligence had uncovered anti-Government plotting by Soviet agents in league with Egyptian religious extremists, leftists, Nasserites, educators, journalists and others.

Later in the month - even as officials of Egypt, Israel and the United States held talks in Cairo seeking a plan for self-rule for Palestinians - Mr. Sadat&aposs Government took further action to quell dissidence. Among other measures, uniformed guards in university campuses were reinforced. A sweeping investigation of the bureaucracy was decreed.

Said Indiscipline Had Ended

In a widely quoted speech, Mr. Sadat asserted, in what proved to be a display of overconfidence, that all of Egypt&aposs internal indiscipline had come to a halt.

&apos&aposLack of discipline in any way or form,&apos&apos he said, in a two-hour televised address, &apos&aposin the streets, in the Government, in the university, in the secondary schools, in the factory, in the public sector, in the private sector, this all has ended, it has ended.&apos&apos

In Israel, however, a long-time observer of Mr. Sadat was already speaking of the possibility that his work might be snuffed out. The Israeli Chief of Staff, Lieut. Gen. Raphael Eitan, said bleakly, &apos&aposThere are troubles in Egypt, and it is possible that President Sadat will go and everything will come to an end.&apos&apos

Mr. Sadat was divorced from his first wife, who was from his native village they had three daughters. His second wife, Jihan, has played a strong role in public affairs, particularly concerning the condition of women and children. The four children of his second marriage are a son, Gamal, named for Nasser, and three daughters, Lubna, Noha and Jihan.

&apos&aposIn Egypt, personalities have always been more important than political programs.&apos&apos - &apos&aposRevolt on the Nile,&apos&apos 1957.

&apos&aposDon&apost ask me to make diplomatic relations with them. Never. Never. Leave it to the coming generations to decide that, not me.&apos&apos - On Israel in 1970, a few months before he became President.

&apos&aposThe situation here - mark my words - will be worse than Vietnam.&apos&apos - In a magazine interview, July 1973.

&apos&aposWe have always felt the sympathy of the world, but we would prefer the respect of the world to sympathy without respect.&apos&apos - In a speech to the People&aposs Assembly after the first attack of the Yom Kippur war, Oct. 6, 1973.

&apos&aposLet every girl, let every woman, let every mother here - and there in my country - know we shall solve all our problems through negotiations around the table rather than starting war.&apos&apos - During his visit to Israel, November 1977.

&apos&aposI have a great ally in Israel that I depend upon. Do you know who? The Israeli mother.&apos&apos - Commenting on the vote of approval by Israel&aposs Parliament of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, March 22, 1979.

&apos&aposIn all the steps I took I was not performing a personal mission. I was merely expressing the will of a nation. I am proud of my people and of belonging to them.

&apos&aposToday a new dawn is emerging out of the darkness of the past. &apos&aposLet us work together until the day comes when they beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.&apos&apos - At the peace treaty signing between Egypt and Israel at the White House, March 26, 1979. &apos&aposThere will be no barriers between our peoples, no more anxiety or insecurity, not more suffering or suspicion.&apos&apos - Meeting with Menachem Begin at Beersheba, May 27, 1979.

&apos&aposIt is democracy I am really suffering from as much as I am suffering from the opposition.&apos&apos -Speaking to foreign journalists of unrest in Egypt, Sept. 9, 1981.

Showing Empathy to Reassure Israel: Sadat's Jerusalem Initiative

Sadat's unprecedented gestures of traveling to Israel, speaking before the Knesset, visiting Yad Vashem, and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier all constitute unambiguous acts of reassurance. These expressive, symbolic actions were motivated by Sadat's desire not just to address Israel's concerns, but, more importantly, to show sensitivity toward its deepest fears. Such actions, I argue, constitute empathic signals that were meant to reassure the Israeli public and government of Egypt's benign intentions. 141

In international relations, reassurance is generally defined as a strategy whereby one state attempts to convince another that it possesses no aggressive, or threatening, intentions. 142 For reassurance signals to be believed, scholars from the signaling and trust-building literature argue that they must impose some sort of a cost on the sender. 143 They maintain that reassurances must be small or moderately costly—that is, costly enough to be informative but not too costly—otherwise, leaders would be “too fearful to send them.” 144 As applied to rivalries, particularly those involving high levels of mistrust, states ought to rely on smaller signals when they suspect that the other side might exploit their cooperation. In such situations, leaders may employ costly signals to reassure their adversaries, but should refrain from undertaking a bold move that might leave them susceptible to great risks. As trust gradually develops between disputants, costlier signals may be sent, resulting in an incremental, or step-by-step, process to reassure adversaries. 145

One could argue, however, that bold moves are most needed in adversarial relationships where little to no trust initially exists between rivals. Such “frame-breaking conciliatory moves” might better help reduce mistrust, 146 and remove the various cognitive barriers that prevent decisionmakers from correctly processing information. 147 Because these moves are riskier for the signaler, they should not only transmit more information about state type, but do so at a faster rate than other costly signals. 148 Robert Jervis argues that beliefs are more susceptible to change “when discrepant information arrives in a large batch than when it is considered bit by bit.” 149

There are benefits to this method of signaling, but mutual suspicion renders it difficult for any single party in a rivalry to initiate conciliation through small or modest steps, let alone through bold gestures. Because he was operating in a domain of losses, Sadat was willing to accept great risks to reassure Israel that Egypt was ready to make peace. He did so because he understood the way in which mistrust imposed, in his own words, a “psychological barrier” to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. The timing of Sadat's gesture can be explained neither by a sudden feeling of goodwill nor by an unexpected revision of his beliefs about Israel's intentions. Sadat went to Jerusalem because he changed tactics on how to conclude peace. Relying on the United States to provide Israel with assurances and guarantees prior to November 1977, Sadat felt that negotiations could be conducted without first establishing trust. Once he decided to forgo multilateral diplomacy, however, he believed that it was necessary to reassure Israel to remove its doubts regarding Egypt's peaceful intentions.

Although this trust-building argument has already been presented, previous studies suffered from many shortcomings. First, they were generally weakly supported, relying on primary sources such as autobiographies and memoirs as well as open-source material (i.e., interviews and public statements). 150 Because leaders have incentives to misrepresent the truth in their personal and public accounts of decisions, this type of evidence is unreliable. To obtain an unvarnished understanding of Sadat's motivations, I use recently declassified archival sources and, in doing so, rely on evidence unbiased by hindsight or considerations of self-presentation.

Second, earlier works do not explain why Sadat dismissed less costly alternatives, nor do they account for the size and symbolism of Sadat's gesture or connect his initiative to broader influence strategies in international relations. I argue that Sadat's move constitutes an example of reassurance and maintain that he reassured Israel by responding empathetically to its fears. He did so not because he shared its leaders' security concerns, but because he believed that only bold, empathetic statements and actions could help reduce mistrust. As used here, empathy is different from sympathy, as it means understanding the other side's thoughts and feelings without “having to share [them] on an emotional level.” 151 It allows policymakers to put themselves in the shoes of their adversary and, in doing so, helps them craft more responsive policies to manage crises and prevent, de-escalate, and resolve conflicts. 152 Scholars in international relations and psychology have referred to this perspective-taking as “cognitive empathy,” to differentiate it from the more altruistic, pro-social definitions of empathy. 153 In the remainder of this section, I argue that Sadat showed this type of empathy in November 1977 when he visited Jerusalem.


Sadat sought a diplomatic solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict but recognized that the level of mistrust was too high between Israel and Egypt to facilitate successful negotiations. He had repeatedly stressed this point since 1973 and did so once again in a discussion with Vance on August 1, 1977, when he told the secretary of state how “Egypt and Israel were incapable of reaching anything together” because “too much distrust existed on both sides.” 154 Reflecting on the history of the rivalry, Sadat told Vance that this was “only quite natural after 29 years, four wars, and so much violence.” 155

Sadat recognized that Israel was motivated by fear instead of a pure desire for power, and this belief allowed him to convey empathy. Two sources of information led Sadat to respond empathetically. Since its founding, Israel had been apprehensive about its Arab neighbors, and its media outlets as well as its officials and intellectuals publicly described the basis for their fears. 156 Monitoring Israel's media as well as its government's statements and press releases, Egyptian officials were aware of the country's security concerns.

Sadat's ability to empathize with his rival, however, was better facilitated by his face-to-face discussions with U.S. officials. In his first meeting with Sadat on November 6, 1973, Kissinger writes in his memoirs that he told Sadat that “he had to understand the psychology of a country that had never enjoyed the minimum attribute of sovereignty, acceptance by its neighbors.” He then asked “Sadat to think of peace with Israel as a psychological, not a diplomatic problem.” 157 Sadat did not respond to this comment until the following month when, according to Kissinger, he said, “I had been right four weeks earlier in stressing that peace was primarily a psychological problem.” 158 Carter, too, attempted to help the Egyptians better understand the perspective and position of the Israelis. He reportedly told Sadat during their first meeting that they remain suspicious of Egypt because they take the fact that “you refuse to meet with them” as a sign that “you are not serious about peace.” 159

While acknowledging that the Arab states' actions partly contributed to mistrust, Sadat told Eilts back in 1975 that the “Israelis were victims of their own psychological complexes. Even if they are heavily armed, they are paranoid on security.” 160 This fear, as Sadat later explained, was the result of the Jewish people's “special problem” they “have been living in fear for thousands of years. They lived in ghettos fearing majority populations everywhere…. They were exposed to many massacres and persecutions. All that deepened their feeling of fear…. Life itself is their problem…. They are threatened in merely maintaining an existence.” 161 Boutros-Ghali shared this view, writing “that doubt and doubting are part of the Jewish personality as a result of the tragedies and persecution that the Jewish people have known throughout history.” 162 The evidence suggests that Sadat and at least some of his advisers believed that the Jewish people's historical experiences and collective memory had conditioned them to possess an almost existential fear of other actors.

Sadat understood the origins of Israel's insecurity, but had until November 1977 relied on the United States to reduce Israel's fears. If it could apply diplomatic pressure while also providing Israel with third-party assurances and security guarantees, then Sadat reasoned this might make its leaders more inclined to negotiate. Sadat wrote, “No one else except the United States can play this role, namely, that of mediator between two sides that harbor intense hate for one another…. Hence my assertion that the United States holds 99 percent of the cards in this game.” 163

Sadat originally pinned his hopes for peace on U.S. mediation, but he was determined by the end of 1977 to circumvent the Carter administration's efforts to reconvene the Geneva Conference. The decision to negotiate directly with Israel not only diminished U.S. involvement in the peace process, but, more importantly, led to a transformation in Egypt's diplomatic calculus on how to conclude peace. After thirty years of hostility, Egypt and Israel regarded each other with fear and suspicion, and so, without the benefit of mediation, bilateral negotiations would undoubtedly fail. To avert such an outcome, Sadat initiated conciliation through a bold gesture to overcome what he referred to as the “psychological barrier,” or “the huge wall of suspicion, fear, hate, and misunderstanding,“ that made each side doubt and misinterpret the intentions of the other. 164


In his autobiography, Sadat details how the peace process had reached a standstill by the end of 1977 and states that the “root cause was none other than … the psychological barrier.” 165 If this deeply entrenched barrier could be removed, then the substantive issues could more easily be resolved since 70 percent of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as Sadat liked to say, was simply psychological. 166 Attributing the failure to reconvene the Geneva Conference to these obstacles, Sadat said that a “new approach” was needed to “pull down the barrier of mistrust” and “break out of the vicious circle and avert the blind alley of the past.” 167 But because leaders have an incentive to provide a self-serving account of important events, I look for patterns from speeches, interviews, meetings, and private conversations to better ascertain the motivations underlying Sadat's initiative.

In November 1977, Sadat delivered a series of speeches in which he not only discussed the psychological barriers and their negative effects on the Arab-Israeli conflict, but also presented his initiative as a vigorous response to remove them. On November 21, he met with the political parties that made up Israel's coalition government and said, “Our target [today] is to end or bring down the great barrier that has always separated us and has built distrust, has built bitterness, has built hatred…. What is the main issue now? It should be security for Israel…. We are ready and we have no objection to whatever measures that can be agreed upon to provide you with full security.” 168 In the first part of this passage, Sadat clearly identifies the purpose of his trip as a way to combat the psychological barriers that have “built distrust” and “hatred.” He then shows empathy by restating what he had said a day earlier in his Knesset speech that Egypt was not only ready to live peacefully with Israel, but was ready to agree to measures to ensure its “full security.” 169

In a series of interviews given prior to his visit, Sadat explained his diplomatic initiative to a baffled international audience by citing the need to overcome the psychological barrier. 170 Well after his visit to Jerusalem, he continued to reiterate the same theme in his many other public appearances. In one interview, Sadat laid out the logic behind his visit, stating that “a psychological wall existed between us and Israel for 30 years…. What good are negotiations if both sides mistrust each other? … Why should somebody else be the advocate of my cause? Why should the United States or the Soviet Union negotiate instead of me? I am in a good position to lead the negotiations myself. All these considerations were behind my visit.” 171 This statement reveals that Sadat's attempt to reduce Israel's mistrust of Egypt was very much linked to a broader strategy of minimizing his reliance on third parties. 172 After returning from Jerusalem, Sadat concluded that U.S. mediation was no longer necessary, telling Eilts that “it is our problem,” and we do not “need guardians to handle this for us.” 173

Although skeptics might argue that his psychological-barrier explanation was meant to appease a Western audience, Sadat made the same points in interviews across the Arab world. In interviews with media outlets either from Egypt or other Arab countries, Sadat consistently defended his actions as something necessary to overcome years of mistrust. 174 Given that displaying any public sensitivity to Israel's fears was perceived as weak, and treacherous in the Arab world, it stands to reason that Sadat would not have provided such a justification had there not been some measure of truth to it. Explaining his decision in these terms exposed Sadat to real risks, which he would not have accepted if, as established earlier, he had not been operating in a domain of losses.

Because leaders often have an incentive to misrepresent their motives in public statements and interviews, this type of material needs to be corroborated with archival evidence. And so, I examine what Sadat said in his private communications with Egyptian, Israeli, and U.S. officials, as this gives scholars an undistorted and unbiased view into his motivations.

Before visiting Jerusalem, Sadat met with high-profile U.S. officials and explained what he hoped to accomplish by embarking on such a fateful mission. Speaking to a congressional delegation led by House Majority Leader James Wright, Sadat reaffirmed that “70 percent of the problem is psychological and 30 percent substance.” 175 He explained that the purpose of the trip was to address the psychological aspects of the conflict, so that the parties could then engage in substantive discussions. Sadat later reiterated this point in a meeting with Eilts on the morning of November 19, the same day he flew to Jerusalem. In a message to Washington, Eilts summarizes part of his conversation with Sadat, writing that “the primary purpose of the visit, Sadat asserted, is to try to break down the psychological barrier that has for so long divided the Arabs and Israelis. He recalled that he has often said that 70 percent of the problem is psychological. If his visit can somehow remove that 70 percent, the remaining 30 percent … should be more manageable.” 176 This passage demonstrates an incredible level of consistency between Sadat's public and private statements.

Given that one of Sadat's objectives since 1973 had been to establish a special partnership with the United States, one could cynically argue that his statements were meant to curry favor with Washington. If this were true, then one would expect Sadat to have defended his actions differently in front of others, especially in front of Arab leaders. Nonetheless, Syrian President Assad revealed to Mahmoud Riad, the Egyptian secretary-general of the Arab League, that prior to visiting Israel, Sadat had told him that the “problem [the Arab-Israeli conflict] was not the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories but the psychological barrier that prevented them from releasing their grip on these territories.” 177 Sadat's a priori rationalization illustrates the logic of an empathetic leader who realized that a fearful Israel needed to be heavily reassured, so much so that it would feel secure enough to trade land for peace. According to Thomas Pickering, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, Sadat had told Jordan's King Hussein after returning from Jerusalem that the “process [peace process] was bogging down in procedural minutiae and the U.S. could not move the Israelis. Psychological problem was for Israelis very real. Arabs had never talked to them.” 178

Sadat's public and private statements show that he justified his trip before different audiences—American, Arab, and Israeli—in the same way. This consistency provides strong support for my argument, because whenever leaders say the same things over time and across situations, they reveal their underlying beliefs. 179 Egyptian officials such as Ismail Fahmy and historians such as Benny Morris have claimed that Sadat's decision was not motivated by a desire to remove the psychological barrier. They assert that he merely appropriated this clever argument from others to later “justify his trip.” 180 The primary evidence does not support their account, however, as Sadat argued before, during, and after his visit that direct negotiations would fail unless Egypt reassured Israel and eliminated the psychological barrier. 181

ANWAR SADAT: 1918-1981

In 11 years as president of Egypt, Mohammed Anwar Sadat reshaped the history of the Middle East, led the largest Arab country to peace with Israel, totally realigned his nation's foreign and domestic policies and earned a prominent place on the roster of daring and inventive statesmen.

Until he was killed yesterday at the age of 62, he led a life as rich in drama, daring, intrigue and fame as any political leader in modern times. He died on the eighth anniversary of one of his proudest achievements, the 1973 war with Israel that restored the pride of his vanquished nation.

As a soldier, conspirator, political leader and world figure, Sadat was always the consummate nationalist. He was a son of the fertile Egyptian soil, and the honor and independence of Egypt were the purpose of his life.

He pursued those goals with all the dedication of a shrewd, opportunistic and occasionally ruthless leader. Spurning conventional diplomacy and repudiating the traditional political style of the Egyptian bourgeoisie, he drove his country down new paths by the sheer force of his personality.

"In Egypt," he wrote in "Revolt on the Nile," a brief memoir of the 1952 revolution, "personalities have always been more important than political programs." Like his mentor and predecessor, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Sadat showed the truth of that observation. Once he became president upon Nasser's death in 1970, his program was his own and those who chose not to follow it were brusquely cast aside.

He broke relations with countries that opposed his policies -- including most Arab states -- and sent their diplomats packing. At home, searching for a formula that would give him credibility and control, he promised liberalism and political pluralism but cracked down abruptly whenever he perceived a threat to national stability or to his own power.

Sadat inherited a prostrate, bankrupt nation, devastated by the 1967 war and locked into political inertia by Nasser's police-state tactics. The Soviet Union held Egypt in economic and military bondage and the country had forfeited its independence in foreign policy to Nasser's pan-Arab aspirations.

Sadat broke all those chains. He expelled the Soviet military advisers, revived the country's spirit with his bold drive across the Suez Canal in 1973, released thousands of political prisoners, liberalized the national economy, restored relations with the United States and, in the grandest gesture of all, journeyed to Jerusalem to challenge Israel to make peace.

Though a devout Moslem, he never allowed religious considerations to affect his judgment of what was best for Egypt. Plotting the revolution that was to overthrow the monarchy in 1952, he rejected an alliance with the extremist Moslem Brotherhood because he and Nasser saw the Brotherhood's fundamentalist program as a step backward for Egypt.

He held to his course of peace with Israel when Egypt was expelled from the Islamic Nations Conference. He paid a debt of gratitude by giving refuge to the shah of Iran, rejecting the outrage of the Islamic extremists. And he protected Egypt's Christian minority from harassment by Moslem fundamentalists.

Under Sadat, Egypt adopted the motto "Science and Faith," but his working policy was, "no religion in politics, no politics in religion."

Sadat was lucky as well as daring. The erratic behavior of his critics, especially Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, enhanced Sadat's reputation. Egypt struck important oil deposits in the Gulf of Suez just when it was in desperate economic trouble. The tenacious diplomacy of Jimmy Carter at Camp David and later in Cairo and Jerusalem carried him over the final hurdle to peace with Israel.

But despite his claim to have reestablished the "rule of law" and transformed Egypt into a "state of institutions" that would survive a change of leadership, he never succeeded in creating a self-sustaining political system. If there are doubts about Egypt's future, it is because Sadat's observation is still true: the fate of Egypt is a function of the personality of whoever is in power.

He eased the one-party system, censorship and repression that characterized the Nasser era, but he was never comfortable with the relatively liberal political system that he erected in their place. Sadat had a paternalistic view of Egypt he saw it as a big, loving but unruly family, and it was his role as father to make sure the children did not go too far.

His program was visceral and intuitive, not systematic, which made his presidency unfailingly newsworthy and dramatic but also leaves critical questions about the country's future unanswered. In the central policy document of his presidency, the October Working Paper of 1974, he said, "We do not fear differences of opinion, nor are we perturbed by free debate and expression of the various interests of the working forces, so long as these orbit in the legal circuits which we accept and so long as they aim at serving the objectives of Egypt and the Egyptian people."

It was Sadat, as the "father" of the Egyptian people, who determined what those objectives were and whether "differences of opinion" aimed at serving them. The limits were far broader than they had been under Nasser, but they narrowed steadily after nationwide food-price riots in 1977 convinced Sadat that too much liberalization was dangerous. Just last month, he ordered the arrest of more than 1,100 Egyptians whose activities he regarded as provocative or troublesome.

Sadat knew every corner of Egypt and he had a sense of community with the working people. Born in an obscure Nile Delta village, he held a variety of jobs -- truck driver, newspaper reporter, canal-digger, bottled-water vendor -- that gave him a sense of the popular mood.

When Sadat returned from his historic visit to Israel in 1977, he rode in triumph in an open car through the dark, tumultuous streets of Cairo confident that the Egyptians would approve of his gesture, which they overwhelmingly did. If ever Sadat seemed vulnerable to assassination it was on that dramatic night -- not as he sat in the reviewing stand watching crack troops parade.

Even though it seemed clear that Sadat's policies had popular support, however, he was never content with less than full marks. A hallmark of his presidency was the referendum that ostensibly called on the people to decide on any major initiative. Invariably, the populace was reported as having given its support to the president by 95 percent or more.

The questions on the referendums were worded to elicit favorable answers and Egyptians and foreigners alike knew the results were spurious, but Sadat's quest for approbation always impelled him to report near-total support. This charade of popular participation in decision-making allowed Sadat to claim that Egypt was a democracy while the countries of his Arab opponents -- the "dwarfs" and "goatherds" on whom he poured such venom when they criticized his peace policy -- were portrayed as tyrannies and dictatorships.

When Sadat became president, he was lightly regarded in Egypt and abroad. Because of his dark skin, he was ridiculed as the "black donkey," an errand-boy for Nasser, and he had no political constituency of his own. It was widely assumed that his interim presidency was only the prelude to a power struggle. There was a power struggle, but Sadat won, and his authority over the country was made clear.

Sadat was the developing world's first media president. He was a brilliant manipulator of the foreign press, whom he courted with flattery, jokes and unusual access. He learned from Henry Kissinger how to score political points by appearing on television with Barbara Walters and Walter Cronkite and giving skillful interviews to newspaper reporters.

At home, he controlled public opinion by placing his hand-picked supporters in charge of the newspapers, delivering long, hand-waving, brow-mopping addresses in parliament and making endless forays into the provinces to visit model farms, dedicate factories and pray with his head on the floor of simple village mosques.

He lived well and dressed lavishly but his sense of timing and costume also took him into the countryside in safari suit and peasant gallabeya to talk about his wish to return one day to the life of a "simple farmer."

Those who looked down on him when he took office -- including U.S. and British intelligence, as he never tired of recalling -- might have had more respect for him if they had studied his personal history. From an early age, Sadat demonstrated a penchant for the dramatic, the passionate nationalism and the determination that characterized his presidency.

Sadat was born Dec. 25, 1918, in Mit Abul Kom, a Nile Delta village where he maintained a home until his death and to which he donated the royalties from his memoirs, "In Search of Identity."

In that book, he described himself as "a peasant born and brought up on the banks of the Nile." Actually he was "brought up" in Cairo and he never knew the backbreaking life of those who live by the soil in Egypt. But his village background helped shape his ideas of family and society and contributed to his belief that Egypt's prosperity lies in reclaiming the 96 percent of its land that is desert.

Unlike Nasser, a city dweller from birth to death, Sadat always retained an affection for the village that gave him, he said, "a feeling of inner superiority."

Sadat recalled life in the village in rapturous tones. Conveniently omitted from his descriptions were the realities of life in an Egyptian village: illiteracy, filth, chronic disease, overcrowding and early death.

Sadat's grandfather was literate, a rarity in rural Egypt at the time, and his father, who went to a secular school and spoke English, was a clerk in the army.

Sadat's early education was in the traditional Moslem style, centering on memorization of the Koran, but then his grandmother sent him to a Christian school to broaden his learning. From an early age, Sadat read widely. Among the books and newspapers were accounts of Mahatma Ghandi's struggle against the British in India, a struggle Sadat admired and later sought to emulate.

Sadat moved to Cairo and was enrolled in a city school with middle class children.

Sadat received his high school diploma at a fortuitous moment in Egyptian history. Under a 1936 treaty with Britain, the Egyptian Army was allowed to grow and for the first time the national military academy was opened to boys of the working class. Sadat got an appointment and the generation of young men who went in with him, including Nasser, was later to lead the 1952 revolution.

As a signal corps officer in upper Egypt, he met Nasser. In 1939, the young officers formed a secret group known as the Free Officers Organization, dedicated to the liberation of Egypt from British occupation and from the corrupt, self-serving bourgeois politicans who dominated the Egyptian government.

In World War II, Sadat was among those in the Egyptian Army who secretly supported the Axis powers in the hope of ending British domination in Egypt. In 1942, he was caught in a clumsy German spy plot, stripped of his military position and imprisoned.

After the war, he held odd jobs, scratching out a living for his wife and three daughters. He plotted ineffectually against the British and in 1946, he was arrested again, on a charge of taking part in the assassination of a finance minister.

Sadat was held in jail for two years before he was tried and acquitted. He spent much of that time in solitary confinement, reading and thinking. "My wide-ranging reading," he wrote later, "not only broadened my mind and enriched my emotions, it also helped me to know myself better."

While in prison he also decided to divorce his wife, a village girl he had taken in an arranged marriage as a young man and with whom he no longer felt he had anything in common.

Sadat wrote in his memoirs that he was "ashamed" of this decision, but that did not deter him. Convinced that he was destined for a career in public life, he knew his wife was a liability and he had his eye on a half-English girl in a family of distant relatives who was studying at the French lycee and would make a suitable mate. She became Jehan Sadat, the president's wife, the redoubtable woman who startled Egypt with her outspoken crusading on sensitive issues such as birth control.

Through the intervention of a friend at the royal court, Sadat was reinstated in the army as a captain in 1950. He resumed his participation in the Free Officers group and was active in planning the 1952 revolution. The monarchy, they felt, was corrupt and compromised, and they sought a new government that would put an end to partisan wrangling and to British military presence in Egypt.

Sadat almost missed the coup because he was at the movies and returned home late. But when he received Nasser's message he threw on his uniform and it was he who announced the revolution on Cairo radio on July 23, 1952.

The Free Officers had no political program -- their ranks included communists and religious conservatives, united only by their desire to be rid of King Farouk and the British -- and for the next 18 years Egyptian policy was essentially a function of Nasser's power.

Sadat was a faithful servant of Nasser in various positions and traveled widely outside Egypt, especially in the Communist countries, but he had no independent function or personal consituency. He served as one of several vice presidents, as speaker of the impotent parliament and as editor of the newspaper of the only legal party, the Arab Socialist Union. At the time of Nasser's death, in September 1970, Sadat was the only vice president and he took over as interim president.

By that time, the Suez Canal had already been nationalized, the High Dam at Aswan had been built and Egypt was a founding member of the nonaligned movement. All major industries, banks and insurance companies had been nationalized under Nasser and a land-reform program had been imposed, so that the issues facing Sadat when he took power were not those that had preoccupied him as a young revolutionary.

Sadat offered broad hints from the beginning that he was prepared to try new initiatives on negotiations with Israel, but nobody was listening.

His first task was to consolidate his hold on the presidency, which he did in May 1971. Alerted to a coup by pro-Soviet officials, Sadat headed it off by ordering the arrest of the participants.

The events of that May are known in Egypt as the "corrective revolution." Sadat, having repudiated most of Nasser's policies, still clung to the Nasser legacy as the source of his own legitimacy. He claimed that his actions had "corrected" a revolution that had been led astray by "centers of power" around Nasser and thus he was able to abandon many Nasserite policies without rejecting Nasser himself.

Sadat believed Egypt could recover from its economic prostration only by ending the fruitless struggle with Israel. To make peace, he had first to wage war: to engage the Americans, whose participation he regarded as essential to any dealings with Israel, and to restore national pride, a prerequisite to negotiations.

The Soviet Union was holding back on weapons shipments and Sadat became convinced that as long as 15,000 to 20,000 Soviet military advisers were in Egypt restraining him, he could not go to war. So in 1972, he expelled them -- a gesture seen at the time as undermining Egypt's readiness for war but actually freeing Sadat's hand.

Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on Oct. 6, 1973 and shocked the world with their initial successes. Sadat became the "Hero of the Crossing" as Egyptian troops stormed across the Suez Canal. Israeli troops later crossed it and encircled the Egyptian Third Army at Suez and the overall battlefield results were inconclusive but the Egyptians have always considered it a great victory.

As the United States sought to extract some longer-term agreement out of the cease-fire that halted the fighting, Egypt restored diplomatic relations with Washington and Sadat gave a triumphal welcome to Richard Nixon in 1974, just before Nixon was driven from office.

Kissinger's negotiations led only to interim agreements on partial Israeli withdrawal from Sinai but even these brought Sadat strong criticism from other Arab countries.

1977 was a difficult year for Sadat. In January, his attempt to cut food subsidies produced the worst riots since the revolution. In the summer religious terrorists kidnaped and killed a prominent Moslem sheikh. The economic liberalization had produced few results and Sadat needed some grand gesture to break the diplomatic impasse and polish his image.

That grand gesture was the trip to Israel. Abandoning pan-Arabism in a stroke and brushing off the outcry from other Arab states, Sadat granted the Jewish state de facto recognition and offered basically what he had been offering without success since the 1973 war: peace for territory.

That visit stirred the world and Sadat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, but it did not bring a peace agreement. As the euphoria of the visit and the direct negotiations slipped away, it appeared that the chance for peace might be lost. The two sides did not trust each other and the key to bridging that gap was held by the Americans. As Sadat often put it, "The U.S. holds 99 percent of the cards in the Middle East."

The personal diplomacy of president Carter at Camp David finally led to a peace agreement in September 1978. Sadat agreed to recognize Israel and the Israelis agreed to return the Sinai, touching off new criticism from Arab states that Sadat had accepted a deal that sold out the Palestinians.

Sadat always rejected that criticism. At Camp David, he said, Israel agreed to "full autonomy" for the Palestinians where, Sadat often asked, is the other Arabs' plan for extracting better terms?

After a border war with Libya in 1977 and its break with most of the other Arabs over Camp David, Egypt was left with few friends in the Middle East, but Sadat said that did not bother him. To him, Egypt, a country with a 7,000-year history, was a repository of civilization, a proud nation of tradition and culture, not to be ordered about by upstart dictators and petty sheikhdoms.

Sadat had enemies: the left, which he reduced to toothlessness the Moslem Brotherhood, the Palestinians, Egyptians who were in despair over the country's sluggish economy and bloated bureaucracy. But he also had a vision for his country.

"Brothers and sisters," he told parliament in May 1980, after one of his periodic crackdowns on the opposition, "let me call on you in deepest sincerity and faith. I call on you in all honesty and purity of conscience: unite and do not be divided. Act with love. Love is medicine. Bless each other. Rancor is the worst evil. Destroy hatred, oust it and curse it. Cleanse your hearts of the epidemic of hatred."

The Sadat regime

Nasser died on September 28, 1970, and was succeeded by his vice president, Sadat, himself a Free Officer. Although then viewed as an interim figure, Sadat soon revealed unexpected gifts for political survival. In May 1971 he outmaneuvered a formidable combination of rivals for power, calling his victory the “Corrective Revolution.” Sadat then used his strengthened position to launch a war with Israel in October 1973, thereby setting the stage for a new era in Egypt’s history.

The Sadat era really began with the October ( Yom Kippur) War of 1973. The concerted Syrian-Egyptian attack on October 6 should have come as no surprise, given the continuing tensions along the canal zone (although the War of Attrition had ended shortly before Nasser’s death), but the Arab attack caught Israel completely off guard. Egypt held no illusions that Israel could be vanquished. Rather, the war was launched with the diplomatic aim of convincing a chastened, if still undefeated, Israel to negotiate on terms more favourable to the Arabs. Preparation for the war included Sadat’s announcement in July 1972 that nearly all Soviet military advisers would leave Egypt—partly because the Soviets had refused to sell offensive weapons to the Arab countries.

Egypt did not win the war in any military sense. As soon as Israel recovered from the initial shock of Arab gains in the first few days of fighting—and once the United States abandoned its early neutrality and resupplied Israel with a massive airlift of military supplies—the Israelis drove the Egyptians and Syrians back. A cease-fire was secured by the United States while Egyptian troops remained east of the Suez Canal and Israeli forces had crossed over to its western side.

Still, the initial successes in October 1973 enabled Sadat to pronounce the war an Egyptian victory and to seek an honourable peace. Egyptian interests, as Sadat saw them, dictated peace with Israel. Despite friction with his Syrian allies, Sadat signed the Sinai I (1974) and Sinai II (1975) disengagement agreements that returned the western Sinai and secured large foreign assistance commitments to Egypt. When Israeli inflexibility combined with Arab resistance to slow events, Sadat made a dramatic journey to Jerusalem on November 19, 1977, to address the Israeli Knesset (parliament). Tortuous negotiations between Egypt and Israel ensued. The climactic meeting in September 1978 of Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter at Camp David in Maryland produced a pair of agreements known as the Camp David Accords. Both Sadat and Begin were awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize for Peace for these negotiations, and on March 26, 1979, the two leaders formally signed the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The agreement provided for peace between Egypt and Israel and set up a framework for resolving the complex Palestinian issue. Its provisions included the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces and civilians from Sinai within three years, the establishment of special security arrangements on the peninsula, the creation of a buffer zone along the Sinai-Israel border to be patrolled by UN peacekeeping forces, and the normalization of economic and cultural relations between the two countries, including the exchange of ambassadors. The status of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza territories and the issue of Palestinian autonomy were to be negotiated.

Sadat linked his peace initiative to the task of economic reconstruction, and proclaimed an open-door policy (Arabic: infitāḥ), hoping that a liberalized Egyptian economy would be revitalized by the inflow of Western and Arab capital. The peace process did produce economic benefits, notably a vast U.S. aid program, begun in 1975, that exceeded $1 billion annually by 1981.

The Sadat peace with Israel was not without its costs, however. As the narrowness of the Israeli interpretation of Palestinian autonomy under the Camp David agreement became clear, Sadat could not convince the Arab world that the accords would ensure legitimate Palestinian rights. Egypt lost the financial support of the Arab states and, shortly after signing the peace treaty, was expelled from the Arab League.

At home, a new constitution promulgated in 1971 significantly increased the power of individual citizens to participate in the political process, and by 1976 laws were instituted permitting the creation of political parties. But democratization of political life did not prove to be an acceptable substitute for economic revitalization. On January 18–19, 1977, demonstrations provoked by economic hardship broke out in Egypt’s major cities. Nearly 100 people were killed, and several thousand were either injured or jailed. The removal of the most oppressive features of Nasser’s rule, the return in controlled form to a multiparty system, and (at least initially) the Sadat peace with Israel were all welcomed. But, as Egypt entered the 1980s, the failure to resolve the Palestinian issue and to relieve mass economic hardships, heightened by the widening class gaps, undermined Sadat’s legitimacy. The West failed to notice this until, in September 1981, Sadat arrested some 1,500 of Egypt’s political elite.

Perhaps more ominous during the 1970s were the signs of rising Muslim extremism throughout the country. Under Nasser, the Muslim Brotherhood had been firmly squelched. Sayyid Quṭb had been executed in 1966 for treason, but large numbers of Muslim activists—many of them radicalized by imprisonment and by Quṭb’s writings on jihad and the apostasy of modern Muslim culture—went underground. Under Sadat, groups of Muslim activists were given wide latitude to proselytize, particularly on Egypt’s university campuses, where it was hoped that they would counter lingering left-wing and Nasserite sentiment among the students, and members of the Muslim Brotherhood were released from prison and allowed to operate with relative freedom. Yet during that time there was a growing rise in religious violence, particularly directed against the country’s Coptic community but also, with growing frequency, against the government. The group al-Takfīr wa al-Hijrah (roughly, “Identification of Unbelief and Flight from Evil”—founded in 1967 after Quṭb’s execution) engaged in several terrorist attacks during the decade, and other groups, namely Egyptian Islamic Jihad (al-Jihād al-Islāmī EIJ) and the Islamic Group (al-Jamāʿah al-Islāmiyah), formed with the goal of overthrowing Egypt’s secular state.

Anwar al-Sadat

Born into a family of 13 children in 1918, Anwar al-Sadat grew up among average Egyptian villagers in the town of Mit Abul Kom 40 miles to the north of Cairo. Having completed a grade school education, Sadat's father worked as a clerk in the local military hospital. By the time of his birth, Anwar's Egypt had become a British colony. Crippling debt had forced the Egyptian government to sell the British government its interests in the French engineered Suez Canal linking the Mediteranian Sea with the Indian Ocean. The British and French had used these resources to establish enough political control over Egyptian affairs to refer to Egypt as a British colony.

Four figures affected Sadat's early life. The first, a man named Zahran, came from a small village like Sadat's. In a famous incident of colonial rule, the British hanged Zahran for participating in a riot which had resulted in the death of a British officer. Sadat admired the courage Zahran exhibit on the way to the gallows. The second, Kemel Ataturk, created the modern state of Turkey by forcing the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. Not only had Ataturk thrown off the shackles of colonialism, but he established a number of civil service reforms, which Sadat admired. The third man was Mohandas Gandhi. Touring Egypt in 1932, Gandhi had preached the power of nonviolence in combating injustice. And finally, the young Sadat admired Adolf Hitler whom the anticolonialist Sadat viewed as a potential rival to British control.

In 1936, as part of a deal between the British and the Wafd party, the British agreed to create a military school in Egypt. Sadat was among its first students. Besides the traditional training in math and science, each student learned to analyze battles. Sadat even studied the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point in America's civil war. Upon graduating from the academy, the government posted Sadat to a distant outpost. There he met Gamal Abdel Nasser, beginning a long political association which eventually led to the Egyptian presidency. At this outpost, Sadat, Nasser and the other young officers formed a revolutionary group destined to overthrow British rule.

Commitment to their revolution led Sadat to jail twice. During his second stay in jail, Sadat taught himself French and English. But the grueling loneliness of jail took its toll. After leaving prison, Sadat returned to civilian life. He acted for a bit, and he joined in several business deals. Through one of his deals, Sadat met Jihan whom he would eventually marry.

Sadat recontacted his old associate Nasser to find that their revolutionary movement had grown considerably while he was in prison. On July 23, 1952, the Free Officers Organization staged a coup overthrowing the monarchy. From the moment of the coup, Sadat began as Nasser's public relations minister and trusted lieutenant. Nasser assigned Sadat the task of overseeing the official abdication of King Farouk. Working with Nasser Sadat learned the dangerous game of nation-building in a world of superpower rivalries. Egypt eventually became the leading "non-aligned" country in the world, giving a voice, through Nasser, to the desires of the undeveloped and post-colonial societies. Their most important trial came over the Suez Canal, which Nasser nationalized in 1956. In a coordinated effort, the British, French, and the new nation of Israel launched an attack on Egypt hoping to reestablish colonial control over the Canal and its profits. The 1956 war ended only after the United States pressured its allies to withdraw. Egypt emerged from the war a hero of the non-aligned countries, having successfully resisted colonial powers and maintained its control of the Suez.

Nasser's prominence suffered greatly from the debacle of the Six Day War. In it, the Israeli military completely destroyed the Egyptian air forces (mostly caught unawares on the ground) and swept through the Sinai to the Suez Canal routing the Egyptian army, killing at least 3,000 soldiers. The devastation also threatened to bankrupt the government. Internal squabbling among Arab nations and the growing Palestinian movement eventually strained Nasser's abilities to the limit. Under the strain, Nasser collapsed and died on September 29, 1970.

When he succeeded Nasser, Sadat was completely unknown and untested. Over the next 11 years, however, Sadat proved his leadership abilities. His first trial on the international scene involved the aftermath of the Six Day War. Sadat openly offered the Israelis a peace treaty in exchange for the return of the Sinai lands taken in the attack.

Domestic crisis and international intrigue presented Sadat with seemingly insurmountable problems. The Egyptian economy continued to reel from war with Israel and the Egyptians' continuing relationship with the Soviet Union deteriorated as the Soviets proved unreliable allies. When pressed for more military support to replace the devastation of the Six Day War, the Soviets simply ignored Sadat's requests. In a bold move, which soon became his trademark, Sadat expelled the Soviets. This grand gesture solidified Egyptian internal support at a time when the average Egyptian suffered greatly.

Behind the scenes, however, Sadat plotted to retake the Egyptian Sinai if the Israelis continued to refuse the Egyptian peace initiative. On October 6, 1973, Sadat struck. With exceptional military precision, the Egyptian army crossed the Suez back into the Sinai and began driving the Israeli army into the desert. Though short-lived, the attack created a new momentum for peace both in Egypt and in Israel. These pressures coincided with continued domestic problems in Egypt.

The deteriorating economy in Egypt, accompanied by a growing distance between rich and poor, led to internal strife, riots, strikes, attacks on the rich. These internal pressures raised the attention of the international community, particularly the United States, concerned that internal strife would weaken Sadat's moderate policies.

Convinced that peace with Israel would reap an enormous "peace dividend," Sadat initiated his most important diplomatic ploy. In a speech to the Egyptian parliament in 1977, Sadat affirmed his desire to go anywhere to negotiate a peace with the Israelis. Even, he affirmed, he would go to the Israeli parliament to speak for peace. The Israelis responded with an invitation to do just that and Sadat's speech to the Israeli Knesset initiated a new momentum for peace that would eventually culminate in the 1978 Camp David Accords and a final peace treaty with Israel in 1979. For his efforts, Sadat won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

At home, Sadat's new relationship with the west and his peace treaty generated considerable domestic opposition, especially among fundamentalist Muslim groups. In 1980 and in 1981, Sadat took desperate gambles to respond to these new internal problems. He negotiated a number of loans to support improvements in everyday life. And he simultaneously enacted laws outlawing protest and declared that the Shari'a would be the basis of all new Egyptian law. Sadat died at the hands of Muslim fundamentalist assassins on October 6, 1981, during a military review celebrating the Suez crossing in 1973. He was succeeded by his Vice President, Hosni Mubarak.