Egypt in Transition

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

V
The 'United Arab State'

There is no longer an Egypt.

Since February 1958 -- and for how long? -- the Nile Valley has become only the south-west region of the strangest State in the world, the only country whose three provinces have no common frontier, and which is made up of two republics and a kingdom -- the Yemen. The United Arab State has come into being.

Even while it was ruled over by foreigners for three thousand years -- by Ethiopians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Circassians and Albanians, Egypt remained Egypt. But no sooner have the men of the Nile Valley taken full power into Egyptian hands than they abolish the State itself. However, it is true that its integration with other Arab peoples gives it a status more like that of England within the United Kingdom than that of a Massachusetts absorbed into the United States.

Thothmes III, Saladin and Ibrahim Pasha had already extended their rules over Syria, but needless to say not one of them was begged to do so by ninety-nine per cent of the Barada valley people. On the 21st of February 1958 only about a hundred Syrian voters were against merging their own country into the new United Arab State. Even more surprisingly, in spite of appearances, there were hardly more Egyptians to raise their voice against this venture.

This fact alone would have been enough to make the 21st of February a significant date in Egyptian history. Yet it is even more remarkable that at the very moment when Egypt was thus extending her frontiers to Mesopotamia, the Sudan was lodging a protest against Cairo with the U.N.O. Security Council over a trivial frontier dispute. Was this in order to stress the fact that Egypt's thrust towards the North and towards Asia meant sacrificing its future southwards and in Africa? Whether deliberate or accidental, was Egypt now making the fundamental choice between its 'Arab' and 'African' destinies?

Suddenly faced by this daring act of initiative, European onlookers either sneered or panicked. Some made fun of this hasty marriage,

-505-

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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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