Egypt Table of Contents
Sadat's handpicked successor, Husni Mubarak, was overwhelmingly approved in a national referendum on October 24, 1981. Sadat appointed Mubarak vice president of the state in 1975 and of the NDP in 1978. Mubarak, who was born in 1928 in Lower Egypt and had spent his career in the armed forces, was not a member of the Free Officers' movement. He had trained as a pilot in the Soviet Union and became air force chief of staff in 1969 and deputy minister of war in 1972.
In a speech to the People's Assembly in November 1981, Mubarak outlined the principles of his government's policy and spoke about the future he wanted for Egypt. Infitah would continue, and there would be no return to the restrictive days of Nasser. Mubarak called for an infitah of production, however, rather than of consumption, that would benefit all of society and not just the wealthy few. Food subsidies would remain, and imports of unnecessary luxury goods would be curtailed. Opposition parties would be allowed. The peace treaty with Israel would be observed. Thus, Mubarak sought to chart a middle course between the conflicting legacies of Nasser and Sadat.
Since 1981 Mubarak has allowed more overt political activity. Slowly, parties and newspapers began to function again, and political opponents jailed by Sadat were released. At the time of the 1984 election, five parties were allowed to function in addition to the ruling NDP. The left-wing opposition consisted of the National Progressive Unionist Party, a grouping of socialists led by Khalid Muhi ad Din, and the Socialist Labor Party. The Wafd resurfaced and won a court case against its prohibition. One religious party was licensed, the Umma. Not officially represented were the communists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and avowed Nasserites, although all three tendencies were represented in other parties (see The "Dominant Party System", ch. 4).
In the 1984 election, a party had to win at least 8 percent of the vote to be represented in the Assembly. The NDP received more than 70 percent of the vote (391 seats). The Wafd, the only other party to gain any seats, won fifty-seven. The NPUP received only 7 percent of the votes and consequently lost them all to the NDP. There were some complaints that the election was rigged, but no serious challenge was mounted against the results.
In addition to domestic programs, Mubarak was concerned to regain the Sinai Peninsula for Egypt and to return his country to the Arab fold. One of Mubarak's first acts was to pledge to honor the peace treaty with Israel. In April 1982, the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai took place as scheduled. A multinational force of observers took up positions in Sinai to monitor the peace. Egypt was allowed to station only one army division in Sinai.
In 1983 Egypt's isolation in the Arab world began to end. In that year, Arafat met Mubarak in Cairo after the PLO leader had been expelled from Lebanon under Syrian pressure. In January 1984, Egypt was readmitted unconditionally to the Islamic Conference Organization. In November 1987, an Arab summit resolution allowed the Arab countries to resume diplomatic relations with Egypt. This action was taken largely as a result of the Iran-Iraq War and Arab alarm over the Iranian offensive on Iraqi territories at the end of 1986 and throughout January and February 1987. On Egypt's side, its economic crisis worsened, and it needed economic assistance from the Arab oil states. Thus, the summit resolution amounted to an exchange of Egyptian security assistance in the Persian Gulf crisis for Arab aid to Egypt's economy. The summit indicated that Mubarak, in attempting to steer a middle course between the imposing legacies of Nasser and Sadat, had brought Egypt back into the Arab fold and into the center of Middle East peace making.
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The literature on Egypt from ancient to modern times is extensive. Good basic works on ancient Egypt are Egypt before the Pharaohs by Michael H. Hoffman and Ancient Egypt, edited by B.G. Trigger, B.J. Kemp, D. O'Connor and A.B. Lloyd. Also recommended are Cyril Aldred's The Egyptians and Egypt to the End of the Old Kingdom. Two readable, popular histories are Jill Kamil's The Ancient Egyptians and Robert A. Armour's Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt. Egyptian art is covered in W. Stevenson Smith's The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt.
The Arab Conquest of Egypt by Alfred Butler and Egypt During the Middle Ages by Stanley Lane-Poole are classics that should be read for the periods they cover. For Egypt during the medieval period, there are also Robert Irwin's The Middle East in the Middle Ages and Bernard Lewis's article, "Egypt and Syria," in The Cambridge History of Islam. Egypt during the Ottoman period is covered in P.M. Holt's Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, 1516-1922.
For the late Ottoman period and the transition to modernity, two important historical works are The Roots of Modern Egypt by Daniel Crecelius and Islamic Roots of Capitalism by Peter Gran. Valuable French works are André Raymond's Artisans et commerçants au Caire au XVIIIe siècle and the collection of articles in L'Egypte au XIXe siècle.
For the modern period, there are several good general histories, including P.M. Holt's Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, 1516-1922, which ends with World War I and Egyptian independence, and P.J. Vatikiotis's The History of Egypt from Muhammad Ali to Sadat. Roger Owen's The Middle East in the World Economy has informative chapters on Egypt. Also important for an understanding of the transformation that took place in Egypt in the nineteenth century are Holt's Political and Social Change in Modern Egypt and Gabriel Baer's Studies in the Social History of Modern Egypt.
Other important studies on particular aspects of this period include Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid Marsot's Egypt in the Reign of Muhmmad Ali; Robert Hunter's Egypt under the Khedives, 1805-1879; Albert Hourani's intellectual history, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939; Timothy Mitchell's Colonizing Egypt; and Eric Davis's Challenging Colonialism. The definitive study of the Urabi Revolt and the British invasion of 1882 remains Alexander Scholch's Egypt for the Egyptians. Also important are the first book-length history of Egyptian women in English, Women in NineteenthCentury Egypt by Judith Tucker, and two studies of the development of the working class, Workers on the Nile by Joel Beinin and Zachary Lockman, and Tinker, Tailor, and Textile Worker by Ellis Goldberg.
The period of parliamentary democracy is well covered in Party Politics in Egypt by Marius Deeb and The Wafd by Janice Terry. For the revolutionary and postrevolutionary periods, there are Anthony McDermott's Egypt from Nasser to Mubarak: A Flawed Revolution and Derek Hopwood's Egypt: Politics and Society, 1945-1984. Also important are Anouar Abdel-Malek's Egypt: Military Society, John Waterbury's The Egypt of Nasser and Sadat, and Raymond A. Hinnebusch, Jr.'s Egyptian Politics under Sadat. Egypt's most recent history is covered in David Hirst's and Irene Beeson's biography of Anwar Sadat entitled Sadat, Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal's attempt to explain Sadat's assassination in Autumn of Fury, and Robert Springborg's Mubarak's Egypt. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of December 1990
Egypt Table of Contents