Abdel Nasser was born in Egypt in the yea 1918, as Gamal Abdel Nasser. He studied in military schools which inspired his career later on in the Egyptian military, after few yeas of becoming an instructor in the same institution. At the time of the Second World War, he influenced some occurrences in his country by being outspoken about republican views, thus conscripted some people and young officers secretly who were later to be referred to as the Free Officers Movement. He slowly began his political career by speaking openly about the political issues that affected the country which made the people develop trust in him. Years later, about 1954 he replaced Neguib who was the then prime minister of Egypt. As prime minister, he gave a clear opinion regarding the Jews who lived in Palestine and just like the Palestinians were against them, he wished to support their course. The close relationship between Egypt and the Soviet Union raised many concerns to the president. This included the purchase of military equipment such as the bombers and tankers. Later, Gamal Abdel Nasser became the first president of Egypt which gave him popularity in the highly Islam country. During his presidency, he achieved many things that made Egypt politically and economically independent. He however failed in some area which his people expected much more from him. This paper discusses the achievements and failure of his time as a politician.
Successes of Colonel Abdel Nasser
The outspoken political figure of Egypt was successful in his military career. It is in this phase that he rose to the rank of the colonel which gave him a rule of command over a significant percentage of people. His determination was also admired by many people challenging those who took after him.
First President of Egypt
Before Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt was ruled by prime ministers. Neguib was the prime minister during the rise of Abdel Nasser, who replaced him in 1954 and took over premiership. It is at this point that his influence was recognized by most of the people in the country. As discussed earlier, he was passionate about what he believed in. for instance, he maintained Egypt as a Muslim country, supported the Muslim faith where he was willing to assist Palestine in their fight against Jews who appeared to want control over Palestine. Many scholars have argued against this and claimed that it was a form of discrimination. However, evaluation of the situation would give the impression of a person willing to stand for what he and his people believe in. thus, as the first president of Egypt, he proved that he would support their faith and other beliefs.
Suez Canal Achievement
According to Egypt.com, (2008), “Shortly before his full assumption of power, Nasser signed and agreement with Britain that provided for the withdrawal of all British uniformed military personnel from the region of the Suez Canal. “That led Egypt to liberalize from what was considered foreign influence. The military men in the area mostly harassed the Egyptians in the area which caused so much tension between the two countries. However, the signing of the pact led to tension free coexistence for the two nations since as it appeared; none was more superior to the other. Also, with the signing of the agreement, the country received an amount that summed up to $40 million from both he British and American government. This was considered a compensation for the damages that the Egyptians had suffered. In the mid 20th century, this amount was overwhelmingly large and gave a significant contribution towards the development of Egypt. This period describes the moment they began to establish their country for financial independence under Nasser’s leadership.
Maintained the Suez Canal Control
With the signing of the Suez Canal agreement with Britain, Nasser was well aware of the risk he was at since other states were also interested in it, besides Britain. However, he managed to maintain the ownership and the peace in the country by protecting his people. He also realized that the nationalization of the canal would provoke a strong reaction from the West, especially Britain and France that had major shareholdings of the Suez Canal. He therefore took relevant measures hat would ensure it was taken over and the stability he had achieved was not compromised. He was however guaranteed that no attacks would be made by Britain following the signing of the pact. Egypt.com, (2008) stated that, “However, Nasser believed that Britain would not be able to intervene militarily for at least two months after the announcement, and dismissed Israeli action as “impossible”. He also estimated that the threat had reduced by 10% making them safer. They also had an advantage since the United Nations Security Council had met on the matter of the Suez Canal and adopted a resolution recognizing Egypt’s right to control the canal as long as it continued to aloe the passage through it for foreign ships. However, the attempts by France and Israel to secretly involve Britain in a forceful take over of the Canal was early identified which also frustrated the attempts. Thus, Gamal Abdel Nasser is also credited for his intelligence in ruling.
Led Egypt to Industrialization
At the time of Neguib, Egypt was less financially independent. Nasser discovered the potential of the country and the much they could benefit with a water body to use for irrigation purposes. This is considered his greatest historical and economic achievement as president of Egypt. With the freedom to utilize the Suez Canal, the president made his suggestion of creating a dam from it. This attracted many finances from the developed countries and the World Bank in order to make the vision practical. Egypt.com, (2008) stated that, “… the next year, 1955, the United States promised fifty-six million dollars, along with two-hundred million dollars through the World Bank, to aid in financing the construction of the Aswan High Dam, which Nasser and his allies had begun planning shortly after the revolution.” The construction of the dam was not delayed as it started immediately after the receiving of the necessary finances. The initial plan was for it to manage the floods of the River Nile. However, it was later established that dam would create the largest man made lake in the world. With this, Egypt would be equally competitive in the industrial world.
Made Egypt Self Reliant
As discussed above, the dam was initially intended to prevent flooding in River Nile and store the water for other uses. However, it did much more for the country which led them to self reliance and financial independence. Egypt.com, (2008) argues/states that, “the dam would also be used for irrigation purposes and enable the generation of hydro electric power. When the returns are calculated in monetary terms, the economy of the country would be improved greatly. Provision of electricity for itself would mean many activities would be generated that require electricity. It would also allow for the provision to other states which would be of great financial benefit. Also, the use of the dam for irrigation is an economic booster. In most third world countries, agriculture is usually the most vital economic activity that generates income. With an appropriate irrigation system, the agricultural sector would be stable, thus finances for the country. It is also worth noticing that with the dam in existence, the country would benefit both agriculturally and in industrial field. Gamal Abdel Nasser is credited for the economic stability that Egypt enjoys to date. Even with the retraction of financial aid from the World Bank, America and Britain, it was quite manageable for the president to seek funds from alternative sources due to the promising economy.
Failures of Colonel Abdel Nasser
Effects of the Aswan Dam construction
There is whatsoever no doubt that the Aswan Dam is President Abdel Nasser’s greatest success story in Egypt. However, there are few considerations that were ignored during its construction that caused irreversible damages. Egypt.com, (2008) describes it as, “Built to provide electricity for heavy industry and reduce the risk of flooding along the Nile River, the dam submerged most of Nubia’s archeological remains (except those protected by UNESCO). “The United Nations agency was lucky to have rescued some of the remains. However, the damage was permanent as it interfered with the historical findings and any evidence that could clarify the Nubia in Egypt.
Research proves that it also created major ecological problems. Egypt.com, (2008) states that, “The Lake’s huge surface lets a significant part of the Nile’s water evaporate in vain, while the dam prevents sediment from enriching the delta soil. According to some agronomists, the Nile valley’s agricultural productivity subsequently decreased.” This shows that agricultural production would be much more efficient with adequate measures to control the effects of the soil. These were however ignored and reduced the productivity. Scholars however argue that the failure of this cannot be compared to the achievements.
The War in North Yemen
Many Egyptians felt that it was not right for him to send troops to the North Yemen since they were not directly involved in its cause. This was the beginning of the end of his political career as he would later on be forced to resign by demonstrations from the people. According to (Tano Team, 2001), “His commanding position among the Arab leaders was also re-established in the wake of Nasserist-led coups and revolutions in Algeria, Iraq, Syria, and North Yemen. The latter dragged him into war in North Yemen as he sent thousands of Egyptian troops to defend the new anti-royalist government. Nasser’s status as “leader of the Arabs.” the involvement was more of an Arabian defense which put the lives of the Egyptian troops in danger. Tens of thousands of Egyptians immediately protested prompting him to retract his decision. He failed to put the interest of the Egyptians before his own desires.
Clearly, there is no person who can be singled out as perfect with only achievements. Even the most popular leaders have flaws and set backs to their accomplishments. For instance, Abdel Nasser was adored by the Arab world and the Arabs. From the discussion, this is because of his consistency in fighting opposition against them. This was a rare quality of a Muslim leader from another country. Dedication to serve his people and protect what they believed in is also evident. Despite the support he received form the West in the construction of the Aswan dam; he did not keep mum on the things he perceived as unfair and violating to the human rights. He openly criticized them for what he felt was negative which made them retract the support they had initially offered. This shows traits of an achieving leader. The faults are recognized in history as normal, thus, he is still credited for the economic stability that the country has enjoyed for he better pat of the 20th to the 21st Century.
- Egypt.com, (2008). Abdel Nasser, Between Advantages and disadvantages. Retrieved from http://www.egypt.com.
- Soylent Communications. (2010). Gamel Abdel-Nasser. Retrieved from http://www.nndb.com/people/953/000024881/
- Tano Team. (2001). Tribute Gamal Abdel Nasser T-shirt. Retrieved from http://www.tanodesign.bigcartel.com/product/gamal-abdel-nasser-t-shirt