European Leaders Unhappy with Sadat-Begin Treaty

by Pamela Ann Smith
published in MER80

In the view of leading European politicians, statesmen and journalists, the “peace” treaty signed between Egypt and Israel in March is more of a liability than a promising asset in their governments’ attempts to forge better relations with the Arab world. Many see it as a prelude to further conflict in the Middle East, and diplomats for the nine member states of the European Economic Community (EEC) have been quietly urging the United States either to extract more concessions from Begin or to make a new initiative -- unilaterally if necessary -- to widen the Treaty to include other Arab states and possibly the Palestine Liberation Organization as well.

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Sadat's "New Democracy"

by A Special Correspondent
published in MER80

On April 5 the president of Egypt spoke for two and a half hours before the People’s Assembly, explaining and defending his peace treaty with Israel. Such was the “public debate” on the treaty. Sadat gratuitously added that “as of today” there would be no restrictions on political parties, and pledged a “bill of rights” which would be “the start of a new life in Egypt.”

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Gran, Islamic Roots of Capitalism

by Eric Davis
published in MER82

Peter Gran, Islamic Roots of Capitalism: Egypt, 1760-1840 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979).

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Egyptian Communist Party Communique: "The Elimination of All Voices Opposing the Treaty”

published in MER82

An Egyptian Communist Party was first established in the 1918-1920 period, but was not active again until after 1939. In this period, through the late 1950s, there were several communist organizations, the principal one being the Democratic Union for National Liberation. Following the 1952 revolution, relations with the Nasser regime were often problematic. Two labor leaders including one Communist, were executed at Kafr al-Dawwar in 1952, and in 1954-1955 a number of cadre were jailed. In late 1958 there was a fusion of the various groupings under the name of the Egyptian Communist Party, prompted in large degree by their shared opposition to the formation of the United Arab Republic with Syria.

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A Very Strange Peace

by Marie-Christine Aulas
published in MER82

Rarely in history has a peace settlement seemed so dismal. The Treaty of Washington between Egypt and Israel was signed on March 26, 1979. Since then there has been little excitement in Egypt about this new era in the nation’s contemporary history. There were several more or less spontaneous gatherings organized when President Anwar al-Sadat returned to Cairo. Otherwise there has been almost no sign of enthusiasm from a population victimized by four wars and usually quite ready to express itself.

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The Cares of Umm Muhammad

published in MER82

Nagya Muhammad al-Bakr -- known as Umm Muhammad, mother of Muhammad -- is 37 years old and works as a hospital attendant in the Heart Institute in Imbaba, Cairo. She is married to Bayoumi ‘Abd al-Baqi and has eight children. This interview, excerpted and translated from the Arabic by MERIP editor Judith Tucker, was published in the Egyptian journal al-Tali‘a in February 1976.

Where are you from?

From the peasantry. Our village is Minya al-Ghamh, in the province of Sharqiyya, and I’m from the ‘izba of Shalshamun. We came to Cairo twenty years ago.

Can you read and write?

Textile Workers of Shubra al-Khayma

by Mona Hammam
published in MER82

Dire material necessity is increasingly forcing Egyptian women to take up wage labor. Job conditions are poor, pay is low and social sanctions are heavy. Women make up 12 percent of the Egyptian industrial workforce, concentrated in textiles, food industries and pharmaceuticals. In textiles, an important Egyptian industry, their present numbers and their historical role are quite substantial.

Egypt's Agriculture in Trouble

by Alan Richards
published in MER84

The horrendous state of the Egyptian economy is a principal factor underlying Sadat’s willingness to address the Knesset in Jerusalem and to make major concessions at Camp David and since. Multiplying shortages, deteriorating infrastructures, and spiraling foreign debts comprise the economic news on Egypt. A central component of this domestic impasse is an acute agricultural crisis; for if agriculture flags, Egypt falls. Agriculture accounts for some 45-47 percent of total employment, for some 30 percent of gross domestic product, and for more than 50 percent of exports. Further, more than 50 percent of Egypt’s industry consists of agriculturally based sectors such as textile and food processing.

Chronology: US-Egyptian Military Relationship

by Joe Stork , Danny Reachard
published in MER90


February 28 Kissinger and Sadat, in Cairo, announce US-Egyptian diplomatic relations to resume, following June 1967 rupture.

March 18 State Department announces US Navy will help clear mines from Suez Canal.

April 18 Sadat announces Egypt ending 18 years of reliance on Soviet arms.

April 19 US “senior official” says US has no “current plans” to sell Egypt arms.

May 24 Limited USSR arms shipments reported resumed to Egypt.

June 12-14 Nixon visits Cairo. Communiqué stresses economic aid, nuclear technology exchange.

"I Have Not Seen a Good Day in My Life"

published in MER94

Interview with Hilmi Zaki:

Are you married?

Yes, and my wife is an orphan. I chose an orphan woman so that she struggles with me the way I struggled when I was young. Her father was a lawyer -- he died when she was young.

Where do you live?