Transforming the Middle East
Robert L. Tignor
Part of The World in a Life series, this brief, inexpensive text provides insight into the life of Anwar al-Sadat, one of the most transformative figures in Middle Eastern and world history. Little was expected of Sadat, as he came to power after the death of Egypt's powerful modernizing leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser. However, he left an unparalleled mark on Egypt, the Middle East, and Cold War relations. He surprised the Israelis by starting the 1973 war, crossing the Suez Canal into Sinai. Though eventually Egypt was forced to sue for peace, Sadat won the support and praise of the Americans. His chief American supporters at the time were President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Not content with this partial military success, Sadat traveled to Jerusalem in 1977 to address the Israeli Knesset (parliament), marking the first time that an Arab leader had traveled to Israel and openly negotiated with the Israelis. He followed this trip with a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, signed between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and himself and brokered by President Jimmy Carter. In short, Sadat broke Egypt's dependence on the Soviet Union, established strong relations with the United States, and recognized the state of Israel--all of these transformative events in Middle Eastern and world history.