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Nasser And The United States Essay

3032 words - 13 pages

In July 1952, the Egyptian government, headed by King Farouk, was overthrown in a bloodless coup led by the Free Officers, soon to be known as the Egyptian Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). The revolution was ostensibly led by Muhammad Naguib but it was clear that he was a mere figurehead and in a little over two years, Gamal Abdel Nasser would assume the Presidency. Although the goals of the RCC were somewhat unclear at the start, Nasser would embark on a policy of creating an independent Egypt free from internal and external domination. It was the latter goal that would set Nasser on a collision course with the West, initially Great Britain and to a lesser extent France, but eventually the United States. As such, Nasser’s commitment to autonomy would make him a hero to many in the Arab World and a villain to the West. Accordingly, for the next sixteen years Nasser and the United States would forge a strained relationship that at times bordered on mutual hostility and on other occasions, would stop just short of friendship based on pragmatic considerations by each side. As such, a detailed study is in order of the relationship between the RCC and the United States beginning with the Egyptian Revolution and ending with Nasser’s death in 1970. Ultimately, one can conclude that each side sought to exploit the other based upon outside considerations pertaining to Arab public opinion and a fear of communism.
After their seizure of power, the RCC needed to determine its outlook toward the West in general and the United States in particular. This was due in large part to past circumstances related to Egypt’s pressing need to eliminate past vestiges of imperial domination, thus making a constructive relationship with Great Britain virtually impossible. As such, Egypt immediately sought the United States’ friendship. In fact, there is speculation on the extent that the United States played in encouraging the coup. Nevertheless, what is beyond debate is that in the immediacy of the coup, a direct relationship was set up between the two sides. The Egyptians contacted the American embassy as events unfolded in order to have the latter contact the British and in order to provide friendly relations between the two sides in reassuring the Americans that this was in no way a communist-inspired coup. Accordingly, the United States, in the midst of their conflict in Korea, could not have been more pleased. As Great Britain’s power in the Middle East was waning, the contest between the United States and the Soviet Union increased in order to fill the vacuum of power left by the slowly-vacating British. Immediately upon seizing power, the RCC showed a willingness to brutally suppress domestic communist activities. According to Yaqub:
The Truman administration was enthusiastic about the new regime…The new government expressed a desire for friendly relations with the United States and cracked down on communist activists who had taken part in the...

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