Preliminary Book Report

“What’s all this nonsense about isolating [Egyptian president Gamal Abdel] Nasser or ‘neutralising’ him, as you call it? I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered…And I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt.” –Anthony Eden, UK Prime Minister 1955-57

I’m only about a third of the way through Devil’s Game; How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, but I didn’t want to wait too long and forget how I felt at reading this.

We have a tendency to think that Arabs have Islamic governments because they just want it that way, that they’re simple people who need their religious trappings, and we don’t have the slightest clue at the concerted efforts that our governments have made to subvert every nationalist and secular government that was successful in the Middle East.

Nasser was a towering figure in the Arab world and was known as the “leader of the Arabs.”

His funeral procession through Cairo, on 1 October, was attended by at least five million mourners.

All Arab heads of state attended. King Hussein of Jordan and the PLO leader Yasser Arafat cried openly while Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya reportedly fainted twice. Although no major Western dignitaries were present, Soviet premier Alexey Kosygin showed up. Almost immediately after the procession began, mourners had engulfed Nasser’s coffin shouting “There is no God but Allah, and Nasser is God’s beloved… Each of us is Nasser.”

The general Arab reaction was one of mourning, with thousands of people pouring onto the streets of major cities throughout the Arab world. Over a dozen people were killed in Beirut as a result of the chaos and in Jerusalem, roughly 75,000 Arabs marched through the Old City chanting “Nasser will never die.”

Seems like the kind of guy the US and UK would want to ally with, a powerful figure who could accomplish a lot of good.

Along with Muhammad Naguib, the first President, he led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of modernization, and socialist reform in Egypt together with a profound advancement of pan-Arab nationalism, including a short-lived union with Syria.

Modernization and social reform? We’re all about that. So why were we working so hard to bring him down, even assassinate him?

Under his leadership, Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal, and came to play a central role in anti-imperialist efforts in the Arab World, and Africa.

Oohhhhhh.

I’ll have more on this book later. And you can buy it here.

5 Comments

Filed under arab, arabian, arabist, books

5 responses to “Preliminary Book Report

  1. The USA and other “Democratic” countries have always supported pro-western dictators and militry rulers in several countries and particularly in the Muslim countries , Pakistan is a good example. They may say they want democracy in the nations of the world but look their tolerance of China and saudi Arabia. There has been no democracy even in the USA as the lobbies rule there. Without the nod of the Zionist lobby in the USA, no President or Congress can take a stand on foriegn policy, they cannot sell items like Awacs even to saudi Arabia, their friend and ally. The Awacs the Saudis have can be flown only by American pilots but Israel can have any militry hardware even Nuclear Weapons because the zionist lobby wants Israel to be the 51st State of the USA. What does Democracy mean? If it is the right of people to vote then India is the largest democracy in the world but without democratic rights of its people and without the democratic responsibilities of its elected “leaders” who are nothing but scroundlers except a very few. The present Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh and the Nehru-Gandhi family are a rare exception of honest and self-less leaders in a country of more than 1.2 billion people.

  2. grrrr…..we just make me so mad! I am forever challenging americans’ myths about our “greatest country on earth” NOT!!! Looks like an interesting read. Thanks for the heads up. Salaam

  3. Added you to my blogroll, Khadija. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Danah

    This is one politician I admire. Can’t seem to find many of the same ilk, though =/
    Keep blogging, Snarla!

  5. Abby

    If you haven’t already, you might also like to read “A Peace to End All Peace” by David Fromkin. It’s about how European powers in World War I helped set up the modern Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, including putting in place the Egyptian monarchy that Nasser helped overthrow, and the Iraqi monarchy the U.S. later helped Saddam Hussein overthrow. http://www.amazon.com/Peace-End-All-20th-Anniversary/dp/0805088091

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