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Abdel Hakim Amer

Abdel Hakim Amer (Arabic: عبد الحكيم عامر‎) ‎ (December 11, 1919– September 14, 1967) was an Egyptian military general and political leader. Born in Astal, Samallot, in the Al Minya Governorate in 1919, He served in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, took part in the 1952 Revolution and commanded the Egyptian Army in the Suez Crisis, the North Yemen Civil War and the Six-Day War.

Military career

After finishing grade school, Amer attended the Cairo Military Academy and was commissioned into the Egyptian Army in 1939.

Amer played a leading role in the military coup that overthrew King Farouk in 1952 and which brought General Naguib and Colonel Nasser to power. The following year, Amer was made Egypt's Chief-of-Staff, bypassing four military ranks. In 1956, Amer was appointed commander-in-chief of the joint military command established by Egypt and Syria. He also led the Egyptian forces against both the Israeli and allied British-French forces during the Suez Crisis.

In 1964, Amer was made first vice-president to Nasser and deputy supreme commander, with the power to rule for 60 days if the president was disabled or killed. Amer's distinguished career came to a sudden end after Egypt's defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War in June 1967.

During the war when he heard about the fall of Abu Ageila to Israel, he panicked and ordered all units in the Sinai to retreat. This order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt. He was relieved of all his posts and forced into early retirement.

Arrest, Trial and Death

In August that year, Amer, along with over 50 Egyptian military officers and two former ministers, were arrested for allegedly plotting a coup to overthrow Nasser. He was kept under house arrest at his villa in Giza.[1]

According to the official Egyptian position, Amer was rushed to hospital in an attempt to save his life after he attempted suicide by swallowing "a large amount of poison pills" upon the arrival of Egyptian officers to question him. After surviving and being taken home the next day, he managed to evade his guards and swallow more pills he kept hidden under an adhesive plaster on his leg.[1] Later, Cairo radio announced his burial in his home village of Astal.

One version of the story holds that Amer was approached in his jail cell on September 14 by high-ranking Egyptian officers and was given a choice to remain there and stand trial for treason, which would inevitably have ended with his conviction and execution, or die an honorable death by taking poison. Like Rommel, Amer chose the latter option and received a full military burial. Anwar Al Sadat, who later became President of Egypt, expressed his opinion that if he was in Amer's position, he would have done the same soon after the Six-Day War[2]

Abdel Hakim Amer was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on May 13, 1964 [3].

References

  1. ^ a b ""Tough Times for Nasser"". Time. 1967-09-22. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,837302,00.html. Retrieved 2008-10-14.  
  2. ^ Oren, Michael B. (2003-06-03). Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Presidio Press. p. 480. ISBN 0345461924.  p. 381
  3. ^ (Russian)Biography at the website on Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia
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