Egypt in Transition

By Jean Lacouture; Simonne Lacouture et al. | Go to book overview

IV
The Structure of Nasser's State

To the extent to which it may be said that this régime exists only according to what it has accomplished and not according to any pre-established doctrine, before attempting even the most sketchy political portrait it would seem desirable to, examine its main acts, such as the Treaty of Evacuation with London, the liquidation of the Sudan question, the trip to bandung, the purchase of Soviet arms, and the nationalization of the Suez Company. Only then can one try to define it as seen by its allies and opponents and those who are interested in it, and to draw up some temporary balance-sheet.

All we can do now is to describe the state's structure as seen by Nasser. The Egyptian republic is first of all an army, an army in the shape of a pyramid. At the top, Nasser rest on the revolutionary Junta, a Council of ten officers. This rests on a larger base, the 'Society of Free Officers' ( Zubat el Ahrar), with about 250 members, which was the instrument for bringing about the coup d'état. The base of the pyramid is the army itself, with 2,000 officers and 100,000 men who, parading twice a year through the Republic Square in January and July, show on each occasion what progress is supposed to have been achieved.

Gamal Abdel Nasser is at the top, yet has absolute control neither of the Council of the Revolution nor of the Free Officers. A number of strong personalities were to appear at his side. Salah Salim was the first of these, a Samurai in sun-glasses, the 'slogger' of the régime who was driven out in 1955, brought back in 1956 and imprisoned in 1957. Then there was his brother Gamal Salim, the leader of the radicals, a Deputy Prime Minister whose only ambition was to eliminate the word 'vice' from his title, before being dropped in his turn in June 1956. There was also Zakaria Muhi ud-Din, a Fouché1 with a seminarist's face, the unobtrusive chief of police whose powers never stopped increasing; and the solid Boghdadi whose successes as a town-planner brought some personal popularity.2 Finally there was

____________________
1
Fouché, Napoleon's chief of police.
2
Boghdadi, President of the ' National Assembly' of July 1957.

-192-

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Egypt in Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 8
  • Introduction - Egyptian Continuity And Revolutions 11
  • Part One - The Awakening of Egypt 37
  • I - The Advent of Bonaparte 39
  • II - Mohamed Ali Creates a State 50
  • III - The Cotton Boom 56
  • IV - A Revolution in Irrigation 60
  • V - The Adventurous Khedive 63
  • VI - The Arabi Revolt 69
  • VII - The Reformers 74
  • VIII - British Technocracy 78
  • IX - The 1919 Revolution 82
  • X - The Wafd 86
  • XI - Making the Best of War -- 1939 97
  • XII - The Burning of Cairo 105
  • Part Two - The Officers' Republic 123
  • I - A Short History of the 'Free Officers' Movement 125
  • II - Power -- to What Purpose? 160
  • III - Neguib's Fall 179
  • IV - The Structure of Nasser's State 192
  • V - The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations 196
  • VI - The Political Parties 240
  • VII - Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57 275
  • VIII - Not a Real Revolution. 292
  • Part Three - Working Life in The Valley 307
  • I - The Land and Its Men 309
  • II - The Agrarian Reform 340
  • III - The Problem of Over-Population 357
  • IV - Economic Growing-Pains 362
  • V - Industrialization and Social Problems 367
  • VI - The Aswan Dam Problem 388
  • Part Four - Forging a Society 397
  • I - Cairo -- City of Convulsions 399
  • II - In Search of a National Culture 413
  • III - Egypt, Islam and the Modern World 430
  • Part Five - The Great Test 451
  • I - Nasser as He Really Is 453
  • II - The Suez Crisis 467
  • III - The Franco-British Invasion 481
  • IV - Egypt Carries On 493
  • V - The 'United Arab State' 505
  • A Chronology of Modern Egypt 515
  • Reading List 519
  • Index 523
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