The political views of Gamal Abdel Nasser were initially complex and contradictory. On the one hand, he was interested in the idea of Western democracy, and in the solidarity and discipline of people, but ruled with the iron fist of a dictatorship on the other. Apart from that, he supported the ideas of the Arab nationalists and the Muslim Brothers organization. Nonetheless, Nasser’s personality and attitudes significantly influenced the political process in Egypt.
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Nasser organized and directed the Free Officers, who initiated the revolution in 1952; he became one of the first of the native Egyptians, who took the post of head of the Egyptian nations (Krasno and LaPides 89). He was capable of feeling and understanding the ethnic, religious, and social moods of the population. Nasser was convinced that Egyptian society was a single family, and theories of classes and class struggle were strictly rejected by him in the first stages of his activity. However, socio-political reality forced him to withdraw from many views. Nasser was a large-minded politician and a flexible pragmatist.
A significant evolution in the direction of scientific socialism was experienced during the years of his presidency. However, he never did become a socialist in his convictions. During his presidency, he faced certain policy failures and setbacks: for instance, Syria’s secession from the United Arab Republic, a failure of decision-making in the course of operation in Yemen. Despite these failures, he did not give up on his strategic goals. He remained firm in his desire to strengthen the independence of Egypt and to search for mechanisms for its economic development.
Nasser’s distinct feature was his willingness to take decisive and courageous action, as evidenced by the Revolution of 1952; the nationalization of the Suez Canal; the refusal to surrender after the invasion of Israel, Britain and France in 1950; and after the defeat in the War with Israel in 1967 (Krasno and LaPides 91). The logic of the political struggle was guiding Nasser in his choice of internal and external allies who would enable Iran’s progress on the path of revolution. Nasser was a controversial revolutionary and politician, but these contradictions evolved from the revolutionary democrats’ experiences.
The president paid special attention to the development of the national economy. The National People’s Congress approved the National Action Charter compiled with the direct participation of Nasser. The Charter determined the progressive goals of the domestic and foreign policy of Egypt. Nasser changed the social system of the country, as well as initiated the building of many schools, hospitals, and factories with the assistance of the USSR.
However, while fighting unemployment, the country was burdened financially, due to insufficient organization of labor and allocation of resources. Nevertheless, the standard of living of people in general, and farmers in particular, has grown a lot as they got the land and received health care and education, and the living conditions were enhanced. Another contradictory aspect of his presidency was his pursuit of his political opponents (Krasno and LaPides 96). He considered the democratic approach as alien to the Arabs. Needless to say, the Arab Socialist Union was a monopoly.
Regarding foreign policies, Nasser’s regime resolved a number of national liberation objectives. For instance, all British troops were withdrawn from the Egyptian territory, Egypt’s sovereignty over the Suez Canal was restored, and the amount of foreign capital was reduced. Moreover, the establishment of cooperation with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries in the international arena and resistance to the imperialist policy in the Middle East were among the crucial achievements of Nasser’s foreign policy. Regardless of his failures, he was one of the best political leaders in the Middle East after World War II.
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Krasno, Jean, and Sean LaPides. Personality, Political Leadership, and Decision Making: A Global Perspective, Barbara: Praeger, 2015. Print.