Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1407, (30 August - 5 September 2018)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1407, (30 August - 5 September 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Celebrating peace

US law-makers celebrate president Anwar Al-Sadat’s contributions to peace in the Middle East, reports Nada Zaki

Celebrating peace
Celebrating peace

On 23 August the US Senate passed a bill honouring late president Anwar Al-Sadat. The Anwar Sadat Centennial Celebration Bill was first presented to Congress in February 2017 before being referred to the Congressional Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

In September 2017, Congress held a ceremony to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Sadat’s birth and the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Camp David Accords.

The bill, which was passed unanimously, recognises Sadat’s “heroic achievements and courageous contributions to peace in the Middle East”. It now awaits approval by the US president.

US senators signalled their approval for Sadat to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his historic contributions to peace in the Middle East. The Congressional Gold Medal will be presented to the late president’s widow, Gihan Al-Sadat, in recognition of his role in securing the Camp David Accords which “remains an important anchor for peace in the region today” according to the published articles of the bill.

Egypt’s third president, who became the first Egyptian awarded with Nobel Peace Prize, was born in 1918 in a village in Monoufiya. He joined the Royal Military Academy in Cairo and was enrolled as a second lieutenant in the army.

He soon met Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Along with other junior officers they created the Free Officers’ movement which organised the 1952 Revolution, which freed Egypt from British colonisation and led to the ouster of King Farouk II.

Sadat first became Nasser’s vice president in 1964. He succeeded as president in 1970, after which he moved away from Nasser’s social and economic policies, launching the Infitah (open door) policy.

Under the command of Sadat the Egyptian army launched the 6 October War to regain Sinai, occupied by Israel in 1973. In the first few days of the war the army successfully destroyed Israel’s defensive Bar Lev Line along the Suez Canal. After 20 days of fighting a permanent ceasefire was reached in October 1973.

In 1974 Egypt and Israel signed a treaty under which Sinai would be returned to Egypt. The talks were facilitated by US secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

In 1977 Sadat made a dramatic visit to Israel, addressing the Knesset and becoming the first Arab leader to acknowledge Israel’s existence as a state.

In his speech, Sadat said an end to war in the region was his ultimate goal. “I have come to you so that together we might build a durable peace based on justice, to avoid the shedding of one single drop of blood from an Arab or an Israeli. It is for this reason that I have proclaimed my readiness to go to the farthest corner of the world,” Sadat told the Knesset. 

The US continued to play a central role in Egyptian-Israeli relations. In 1978 president Jimmy Carter hosted president Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin at Camp David for 13 days during which they hammered out the basis of a peace treaty. The meetings ended with the signing of the Framework for Peace in the Middle East, the Camp David Accords.

In the same year Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite local outrage at the normalisation of relations with Israel, Sadat said in his acceptance speech that for the sake of future generations he would not back away from any opportunity for peace.

“I made my trip because I am convinced that we owe it to this generation and the generations to come not to leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of peace,” he said.

Sadat was assassinated on 6 October 1981 by a member of Islamic Jihad.

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