Daniel Pipes: Sixty Years of Egyptian Misery





Daniel Pipes is President of the Middle East Forum and Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

This week marks 60 years since Egypt’s self-proclaimed Free Officers overthrew the constitutional monarchy of King Farouk — and it’s the first anniversary when one can imagine the demise of the military despotism that for so long has wounded the country. Sadly, its most likely replacement will bring on an even worse rule.
 
The era of monarchy had plenty of faults, from iniquitous levels of inequality to violent movements (foremost among them, the Muslim Brotherhood), but it was an era of modernization, of a growing economy, and of increasing influence in the world. Industrialization had begun, women threw off their face coverings, and Egyptian soft power had a wide impact in Arabic-speaking countries. Tarek Osman recalls this time in his excellent Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak as “liberal, glamorous, cosmopolitan.”
 
The dreary rule of generals and colonels began on July 23, 1952, led by the ambitious Gamal Abdul Nasser. The grandiose Anwar Sadat followed him in 1970, and finally the pompous Hosni Mubarak assumed control when Sadat was assassinated in 1981. Nasser, much the worst of the trio, danced to the demons of anti-capitalist resentment and anti-imperialist frustration; his rule saw crippling confiscation of private property and inane foreign adventures (with Syria, against Israel, in Yemen), incurring costs the country still pays.
 
The regime specialized in deception...



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