Egyptian Revolution of 1952: Wikis


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The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 (Arabic: ثورة 23 يوليو 1952‎), also known as the July 23 Revolution, began with a military coup d'état that took place on July 23, 1952 by a group of young army officers who named themselves "The Free Officers Movement". The revolution was initially aimed at overthrowing King Farouk I. However, the movement had more political ambitions and soon moved to abolish the constitutional monarchy and establish a republic. The success of the revolution inspired numerous Arab and African countries to undergo a similar experience to remove the corrupt regimes.



  • The Egyptian monarchy was seen as both corrupt and pro-British, with its lavish lifestyle that seemed provocative to the members of the free officers movement who lived in poverty. Its policies completed the image of the Egyptian government being a puppet-figure in the hands of the British government.
  • Promoting the feeling of corruption on the part of several Egyptian institutions such as the police, the palace and even the political parties by the free officers.
  • The loss of 1948 war with Israel led to the free officers' blame of the King and their promotion of that feeling among the Egyptian people.

As a result, a group of army officers who named themselves 'the free officers' movement' was formed by a young officer named Gamal Abdel Nasser. They used an army general, Mohamed Naguib, as its head to show their seriousness and attract more army followers.

In the warning that General Mohammad Neguib conveyed to King Furouk on 26 July upon the king's abdication, he provided a summary of the reasons for the revolution:

In view of what the country has suffered in the recent past, the complete vacuity prevailing in all corners as a result of your bad behavior, your toying with the constitution, and your disdain for the wants of the people, no one rests assured of life, livelihood, and honor. Egypt's reputation among the peoples of the world has been debased as a result of your excesses in these areas to the extent that traitors and bribe-takers find protection beneath your shadow in addition to security, excessive wealth, and many extravagances at the expense of the hungry and impoverished people. You manifested this during and after the Palestine War in the corrupt arms scandals and your open interference in the courts to try to falsify the facts of the case, thus shaking faith in justice. Therefore, the army, representing the power of the people, has empowered me to demand that Your Majesty abdicate the throne to His Highness Crown Prince Ahmed Fuad, provided that this is accomplished at the fixed time of 12 o'clock noon today (Saturday, 26 July 1952, the 4th of Zul Qa'ada, 1371), and that you depart the country before 6 o'clock in the evening of the same day. The army places upon Your Majesty the burden of everything that may result from your failure to abdicate according to the wishes of the people.

Road to the Revolution

On January 25, 1952, British troops attacked the Egyptian police barracks in Ismailia after the police refused to surrender. Fifty Egyptian police officers were killed and one hundred were wounded. Egypt erupted in fury.

The riots that followed, the Cairo Fires, are seen as the beginning of the end of the monarchy. The next day, January 26, 1952 ("Black Saturday"), what many Egyptians call the second revolution broke out (the first being the Egyptian Revolution of 1919). Riots broke out in Cairo, the rioters attacking foreign interests and businesses. The Egyptian "mob" burned Cairo targeting British interests, airline offices, hotels, cinemas, bars and department stores (such as Shepheard's Hotel, BOAC offices, and the British Turf Club) in particular. Foreign observers who witnessed the burning of Cairo said it looked less like an unruly mob and more like a well-planned and disciplined action.

King Farouk dismissed Mustafa el-Nahhas's government, and in the months that followed, three different politicians were instructed to form governments, each proving short-lived: Ali Maher (27 January – 1 March), Ahmed Naguib El-Hilali (2 March – 29 June, and 22–23 July) and Hussein Sirri (2–20 July). These "salvation ministries," as they were called, failed to halt the country's downward spiral. Corruption remained ubiquitous despite attempts by successive prime ministers to put their political houses in order.

Stirrings of discontent were felt in the army, and in January 1952 opposition officers supported by the Free Officers gained control of the governing board of the Officers Club. On 16 July, the King annulled these elections, appointing his own supporters instead in an attempt to regain control of the army.

A coup d'état was planned for 5 August, but when General Muhammad Naguib, one of the Free Officers, informed the group on 19 July that the army high command had a list of their names, the coup leaders acted on the night of 22 July.

The Revolution

On Wednesday morning, 23 July 1952, a military coup occurred in Egypt, carried out by The "Free Officers" and led by General Muhammad Naguib, but the real power behind the military coup was Gamal Abdel Nasser.

At 7:30 a.m., they heard a broadcast station issue the first communiqué of the revolution in the name of Gen. Naguib to the Egyptian people that stated the justification for the revolution or the Blessed Movement. The voice everyone heard reading the message belonged to Free Officer and future president of Egypt, Anwar El Sadat[1]:

Egypt has passed through a critical period in her recent history characterized by bribery, mischief, and the absence of governmental stability. All of these were factors that had a large influence on the army. Those who accepted bribes and were thus influenced caused our defeat in the Palestine War [1948]. As for the period following the war, the mischief-making elements have been assisting one another, and traitors have been commanding the army. They appointed a commander who is either ignorant or corrupt. Egypt has reached the point, therefore, of having no army to defend it. Accordingly, we have undertaken to clean ourselves up and have appointed to command us men from within the army whom we trust in their ability, their character, and their patriotism. It is certain that all Egypt will meet this news with enthusiasm and will welcome it. As for those whose arrest we saw fit from among men formerly associated with the army, we will not deal harshly with them, but will release them at the appropriate time. I assure the Egyptian people that the entire army today has become capable of operating in the national interest and under the rule of the constitution apart from any interests of its own. I take this opportunity to request that the people never permit any traitors to take refuge in deeds of destruction or violence because these are not in the interest of Egypt. Should anyone behave in such ways, he will be dealt with forcefully in a manner such as has not been seen before and his deeds will meet immediately the reward for treason. The army will take charge with the assistance of the police. I assure our foreign brothers that their interests, their personal safety [lit. "their souls"], and their property are safe, and that the army considers itself responsible for them. May God grant us success [lit. "God is the guardian of success].

King Farouk sought the intervention of the United States, but to no avail. By the 25th, the army had occupied Alexandria, where the king was in residence at the Montaza Palace. Now plainly terrified, Farouk abandoned Montaza, and moved to Ras Al-Teen Palace on the waterfront. Naguib ordered the captain of Farouk's yacht, "al-Mahrusa," not to sail without orders from the army. Debate broke out among the Free Officers concerning the fate of the deposed king. While some (including Gen. Naguib and Nasser) viewed the best solution as to send him to exile, others argued the urge to put him on trial and even execute him for the "crimes he committed to the Egyptian people". Finally, the order came for Farouk to abdicate in favour of his son, Crown Prince Ahmed Fouad, and a Regency Council was appointed. Departure into exile finally came on Saturday, July 26, 1952 and at 6 o'clock that evening, the king set sail for Italy with a protection from the Egyptian army. On July 28, 1952, Muhammad Naguib became the first President of Egypt, which marked the beginning of modern Egyptian governance.

After the Revolution

The Revolution Command Council (RCC), made up of the previous 9-member command committee of the Free Officers in addition to five more members, including Mohamed Naguib, was formed. Ali Maher was asked to form a civilian government. Popular expectations for immediate reforms led to the workers' riots in Kafr Dawar on August 12, 1952, which resulted in two death sentences. Ali Maher resigned on 7 September following differences with the officers, principally over proposed land reform. Mohamed Naguib became prime minister. On 9 September, the Agrarian Reform Law was passed, signaling a major land redistribution programme among peasant farmers and placing a ceiling of 200 feddans on land ownership. On 9 December, the 1923 Constitution of Egypt is abrogated "in the name of the people."

On 16 January 1953 the officers of the RCC dissolved and banned all political parties, declaring a three-year transitional period during which the RCC will rule. A provisional Constitutional Charter, giving legitimacy to the RCC, was proclaimed on 10 February, and the Liberation Rally—the first of 3 political organisations linked to the July regime—was launched soon afterwards with the aim of mobilising popular support. The Rally was headed by Gamal Abdel-Nasser and included other Free Officers as secretaries-general. On 18 June, the RCC declared Egypt a republic, abolishing the monarchy (the infant son of Farouk had been reigning as King Fuad II) and appointing General Muhammad Naguib, aged 52, as first president and prime minister. Gamal Abdel-Nasser, 35, was appointed deputy premier and minister of the interior. A Revolutionary Tribunal consisting of RCC members Abdel Latif Boghdadi, Anwar el-Sadat and Hassan Ibrahim, was set up to try politicians of the ancien régime.



In January, the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed, remaining an illegal political organization ever since. The move came in the wake of clashes between members of the Brotherhood and Liberation Rally student demonstrators on 12 January 1954. March witnessed clashes within the RCC, symbolised in the attempt, ultimately successful, to oust Naguib. The move faced opposition from within the army, and some members of the RCC, especially Khaled Mohieddin, favoured a return to constitutional government. Gamal Abdel-Nasser took power, first as chairman of the RCC and prime minister, with Naguib's constitutional position remaining vague until 14 November, when he was dismissed from office and placed under house arrest.

On 26 October, an assassination attempt directed at Nasser during a rally in Alexandria led to the regime acting against the Brotherhood, executing Brotherhood leaders on 9 December. A treaty was signed with Britain on 19 October for the evacuation of British troops from Egypt, to be completed over the following 20 months. Two years later, on 18 June 1956, Nasser raised the Egyptian flag over the Canal Zone, announcing the complete evacuation of British troops. On 7 June 1955, a law is promulgated for the "Egyptianisation" of foreign companies and joint ventures.


President Nasser announced a new Constitution on 16 January at a popular rally, setting up a presidential system of government in which the president has the power to appoint and dismiss ministers. An elections law was passed on 3 March granting women the right to vote for the first time in Egyptian history. Nasser was elected as the second president of the Republic on 23 June. In 1957, Nasser announced the formation of the National Union (Al-Ittihad Al-Qawmi), paving the way to July elections for the National Assembly, the first parliament since 1952.

The Tripartite Aggression

Egypt had been seeking loans from the World Bank since late 1955 to finance the construction of the Aswan High Dam. A tentative agreement with the World Bank, the US and Britain indicated that US$ 70 million would be provided for the project. However, on 20 July 1956, the US and Britain withdrew their offers of funding, and the World Bank went back on the agreement. On 26 July, Nasser gave a historic speech announcing the nationalisation of the Suez Canal Company, whose revenues would be used to finance the construction of the High Dam, which was completed in January 1968. The nationalisation escalated tension between Egypt and Britain and France, which froze Egyptian assets and put their armies on alert.

On 1 August, the USSR offered to fund the High Dam project. Relations with Britain and France continued to deteriorate throughout the summer, culminating in the Tripartite Anglo-French-Israeli aggression on Egypt in October. Israeli troops invaded Gaza and Sinai on the 29th, while British and French troops attacked the Canal Zone on the 31st. Military operations were finally halted under USSR, US and UN pressure on 7 November, and British and French troops evacuated on 22 December. All British and French banks and companies, 15,000 establishments in all, were nationalized, a process that was later extended to all foreign establishments and also to Egyptian firms.

Federation with Syria

United Arab Republic flag

On 22 February 1958, Egypt united with Syria, creating the United Arab Republic (UAR). The 1956 Constitution was abrogated following the union and a provisional one decreed. The Egyptian National Assembly was dissolved. On 2 April, Nasser issued a decree establishing the flag of the Republic as three horizontal bars of red, white and black with two stars. There was a crackdown on communists on 31 December for their allegedly lukewarm response to the Union with Syria.

Following Syrian secession in 1962, a Preparatory Committee of the National Congress of Popular Forces was convened in Cairo to prepare for a National Congress to lay down a Charter for National Action. The 1,750-member Congress of representatives from peasant, laborer, professional and occupational associations meets in May to debate the Draft National Charter presented by Nasser. On 30 June, the Congress approves the Charter, which sets up a new political organization, the Arab Socialist Union (ASU) to replace the National Union. 50 per cent of the seats in the ASU are to be filled by farmers and workers. Elected ASU units are set up in factories, firms, agricultural cooperatives, ministries and professional syndicates.

Yemen War

In 1962, Egypt became involved in the civil war in Yemen, supporting the revolutionary regime of Abdullah al-Sallal that had ousted the country's former ruler, Imam Badr, and declared a republic. This proved to be a considerable financial and military burden on Egypt and created antipathy with Saudi Arabia, which supported the Yemeni royalists.

1967 War

Under Arab pressure and as a result of rising popular expectations of Arab military might, on 18 May 1967, Nasser asks UN Secretary General U Thant to withdraw the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) stationed on Egypt's side of the border with Israel in Sinai. Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping in retaliation for Israel's diversion of the River Jordan. King Hussein of Jordan visited Cairo on 30 May, signing a Jordanian-Egyptian defense pact.

On 5 June, Israeli army forces dealt a crushing blow to Egypt. Seventeen Egyptian airfields were attacked, and most of the Egyptian air force destroyed on the ground leading to the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan entered the war on Egypt's side, but was forced to accept a UN Security Council ceasefire on 7 June after Israel occupied the Jordanian-controlled territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Egyptian- controlled Gaza Strip. Egypt also accepted the ceasefire. Israeli troops attacked the strategic military installations in the Syrian Golan Heights, occupying the town of Quneitra. Syria accepted the ceasefire on 10 June.

Egypt's defeat in the 1967 War compelled Nasser to resign on 9 June, naming Vice-President Zakaria Mohieddin as his successor. However, he relented following massive popular demonstrations of support. Seven high-ranking officers were tried in the wake of the defeat, including Minister of War Shams Badran. Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces Field-Marshal Abdel-Hakim Amer was arrested and is reported to have committed suicide while in custody in August.


The anniversary of the Revolution is commemorated on Revolution Day, an annual public holiday in Egypt, on July 23.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Ibrahim, Sammar. 'Profile: Anwar Al-Sadat', Egypt State Information Service, Retrieved on 2008-07-20.


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