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Why is it So Hard to Believe that Nasser Died Naturally? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The daughter of late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, Mrs. Ruqqaya al-Sadat, intends to file a lawsuit in the Egyptian courts against well-known Egyptian journalist and writer, Mohammed Hassanein Heikal, accusing him of slandering the reputation of her late father. On a television show that Heikal presents for the Al Jazeera satellite channel, the Egyptian journalist insinuated that some people believe that late Egyptian President Nasser might have been killed after being poisoned by a cup of coffee that had been prepared for him by al-Sadat in the presidential suite of Cairo’s Hilton Hotel. Heikal made this “statement” approximately 40 years after Nasser’s death, and via a rather strange forum, namely his television show. This made me question why Nasserites continue to elevate Nasser in this manner, as if he were not a man who lived and died, and made mistakes like anybody else. Why do they insist on depicting him in this manner and smoothing over his humanizing aspects?

According to these Nasserites, Nasser was infallible, and it was those around him who conspired against, and ultimately failed him. However these Nasserites do not ask the next question, which is “Who appointed all of these people that surrounded Nasser? Were they not his choice? Could anybody else have imposed them upon him?” I do not know why these Nasserites find it so hard to accept that Nasser’s heart may in fact have stopped due to tiredness, pain, exhaustion and regret, after an arduous and gruelling [political] journey full of disappointment and heartbreak? In fact, how could this not be the case considering that Nasser spent his entire political life in conflict with not just his enemies, but also his friends?

He lost Sudan, which was formerly under Egyptian control. In addition to this he wasted a union with Syria [United Arab Republic] through mismanagement, disregarding the Syrians and their heritage, and appointing dubious characters to run their affairs and govern them. He engaged in a senseless war of adventure in Yemen for no good reason and which had no clear objective. He squandered the country’s gold reserves, and his actions ultimately cost the lives of innocents. In addition to this, he created a state of tension with Iraq by questioning their intentions, and we cannot overlook his verbal attacks against Saudi Arabia, which reached the point of Egypt’s air force acting aggressively towards Saudi Arabia’s territories during the war it lost with Yemen.

We can also consider Nasser’s infamous enmity toward Jordan and its king, and his deep reservations towards Tunisia and Morocco. As a result, Nasser became preoccupied with such distractions, and Egypt was transformed internally into a centre for police investigation and state intelligence. Prisons filled up with detainees, and Egyptians began to fear that security forces would storm their houses and arrest them. Nasser suppressed liberties, which resulted in sincere or outspoken newspapers gradually disappearing, along with parliamentary power.

This deteriorating situation ultimately brought about a horrific outcome, namely Egypt and other Arab states losing vast territories as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel. Nasser’s administrative methods were based upon favouritism, and so he first authorized Abdel Hakim Amer – a high-ranking Egyptian military officer – who had a history of ineffective military planning with the task of administrating the union between Egypt and Syria. Amer’s approach completely failed, however Nasser did not learn his lesson, and later appointed Amer as commander of the Egyptian army, and it was Amer who presided over the catastrophic Six-Day War.

All of the worry, the lost dreams, the pursuit of mirages, the devastated hopes, the wasted wealth, and the broken spirit of the Arabs and Egyptians, would be more than enough to make even the strongest of men collapse, and the healthiest of hearts stop beating. Or must we still, until the bitter end, propagate claims that groups that wanted to harm Nasser did indeed exist, and they eventually succeeding in eliminating him?

Nasser’s heart stopped beating because of his feelings of disappointment, frustration, and anguish. Nothing can affect a heart like feelings of failure and helplessness, and this is exactly what happened. Therefore maintaining this perfect and superhuman image of Nasser only gives rise to feeling of pity, rather than feelings of admiration. Historical facts and evidence do not lie, and this is something that is confirmed by history. We should let Nasser rest in peace, for the man died of heartbreak that he had a hand in causing. It is a mistake to continually promote the idea of “political gods” however this seems to be one that we, as Arabs, are destined to make until the end of time. God help us!

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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