Sadat's nephew says he was 'courageous' 40 years after historic visit to Israel
Israel on Sunday marked 40 years since the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Israel, putting an end to years of carnage and animosity and paving the way for an eventual peace settlement between neighbors. The visit was a watershed moment for bilateral relations between Israel and Egypt, and an unprecedented move in the Middle East.
Forty years later, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, a nephew of the former Egyptian leader, remembers his uncle’s legacy as a courageous leader who was willing to take brave steps to forge peace.
“The visit to Jerusalem shook the whole world,” Mohamed Sadat said in an interview this week.
The statesman’s nephew explained that Sadat believed in Egypt’s strengths, but also recognized the strengths of Israel, the United States, and Europe, and that he didn’t want his army to be dragged in a vain war they stood to lose.
“Visiting Jerusalem, I believe it was a very courageous step, and we now see that everyone is trying to achieve what Sadat achieved, through the war and his peace negotiations. I am saying again: There are no nations who want to live in wars forever. Wars, despite their disadvantages, always end with peace,” Sadat said.
Sadat praised his uncle and the lasting effect of the peace accord he signed on behalf of Egypt with the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, which saw Egypt regain every inch of territory lost to Israel during the 1967 Six Day War without bloodshed.
“The Camp David Accords, which some criticize, gave us back our whole land without spilling one drop of blood, or losing a military officer,” Sadat said. “What do you need more than this? Some say: No! We took the region but we have no sovereignty over it. Who says that? All Sinai, from Taba to Suez, is under Egyptian sovereignty. We have many projects taking place there.”
Mohamed Anwar Sadat spoke about his uncle as a man who was involved in revolutionary actions in his youth and grew into a regional statesman of reconciliation.
Sadat’s nephew described him as a very open minded person, who was smart and worked in order to boost ties with the West. Sadat explained that, in the past, Egypt was a closed country and his uncle opened it up to the world both economically and politically. He didn’t want it to be a communist society, but rather an open country with free trade.
“At the end of the 1940’s,” Sadat recalled, “when he was involved in some of the youth groups that were against British colonialism and monarchy, he was expelled from the army, imprisoned, and escaped from prison. He had a life full of struggle. He was be one of the most prominent members of the 1952 Revolution Command Council, which exercised political action before the Revolution, which also had national positions that accounted for.”
Sadat’s nephew described the late Egyptian leader as a man who came from a poor family but achieved success as a result of his unshakeable persistence. Anwar Sadat, he said, was a man who cared deeply about his country.
Anwar Sadat attended military college and joined youth movements opposed to British colonial rule in Egypt, while also standing against the monarchy’s authority in the country. According to his nephew, Sadat saw the discrimination around him and empathized with ordinary Egyptians without casting them as victims.
When Sadat assumed the position of the president of Egypt, he continued being a father for his family but also for the entire nation, his nephew explained.
Sadat recalled that when his uncle came to power, Egypt was a sort of police state where people were arrested in masses. His uncle, however, opened a new chapter in Egyptian history. He let people participate in the new social and political life.
Towards the end of his life, Sadat confessed that it was a mistake to allow Islamists be integrated into the Egyptian society as they never appreciated his efforts to bridge between them and the rest of the Egyptian society, his nephew said.
Sadat was trying to unite the Arab world, his nephew recalled, explaining that the leader’s efforts were not successful, as the region is still riddled with turmoil.
“He exhausted all efforts to achieve Arab unity. But he found no success from his attempts,” Sadat’s nephew says. “He found out that they all have their own interests and are engaged in secret negotiations. It was necessary for him to take a position because he was responsible for his people.”
Forty years later, Sadat’s greatest political achievement -- peace with Israel -- has stood the test of time. As for the future of Egypt, Sadat’s nephew is convinced that Egyptians can succeed if they trust each other. Otherwise, he claims, they will destroy their own country.
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