March 3, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives

Sadat, Stability and Self-Government

by Ann Barczak

Crude Prices Up with Threat of Violence in the Middle East

This headline stirred all kinds of emotions in me – shock, horror, absolute disbelief.  A “threat” of violence in the Middle East? Say it isn’t so. Every  indicator   from the Nikkei Index to the Brazilian Bovespa has gone haywire upon hearing the “startling” news. Apparently, global markets have no memory of the last 50-something years. Surprisingly, this amnesia is suffered by a great many of my contemporaries.

I found that the majority of people believe that the first indication of the epic problems in the Middle East was a Tuesday in September, 10 sad years ago.  Too few of us remember, or know about, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the Achille Lauro, the Munich Olympics, Lockerbie or Robert Stethem.   Violence and unrest have characterized the Middle East for so long, it is hard to define this area without them.

In the hours that followed our celebration of President’s Day,  revolution around the world was screaming loudly and being heard.    January saw the fall of Zine El Abiden Ben Ali in Tunisia after 23 years.   The possibility of rule by the people moved to Egypt, where Hosni Mubarek  was ousted just days ago.    As we speak, revolutionary pressures weigh heavily on Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.  This contagious spread of freedom must have the likes of Washington and Lincoln smiling down from above.

“All my people with me, they love me. They will die to protect me .” Muammar Gadhafi, March, 2011

Egypt’s monumental move towards liberty reminded me of how Mubarek came to power in the first place.  It was 1981. That was the closest the world has ever come to   securing the mecca of energy.   I polled a few people my age to ask them who Mubarek replaced in 1981 and under what circumstances.   No one knew.

I was eight years old when Mubarek came to rule Egypt, and I distinctly remember what happened to put him in that position. What kind of eight-year-old is that interested in current events? Eight-year-old Ann.  I idolized Ronald Reagan, cried when Bobby Sands died and was forced to re-evaluate my future career path when Sandra Day O’Connor beat me by becoming the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  So of course, October 6, 1981, was a sad day indeed.  My Mom was crying, saying the world had lost all hope of peace in the Middle East. I tried desperately to decipher what was happening.  I can still see the television in our living room. The news showed rows and rows of folding chairs. The tents over them were flapping in the breeze. Military vehicles with loud sirens were careening in and out of the area meant for a celebration.

"If there is no peace, than forget everything I have said." Anwar Sadat, May 1974

Anwar Sadat was dead.

Sadat came to power as president of   Egypt   with few expectations and the idea that he would be easily manipulated.  Surprising his critics and Egypt’s allies, he initiated The Corrective Revolution, ridding the government of those loyal to the previous administration and ending the public sector domination of   Egypt’s economy   with his Infitah Policy.   In a calculated move that would sustain the people of Egypt for years through aid dollars, Sadat abandoned Egypt’s ally in the Soviet Union and entered into beneficial friendship with Henry Kissinger and the United States. He expelled Soviet advisers in 1972 and refused to tolerate threats to the people of Egypt  or the inane violence that previously damaged his country.

Anwar Sadat became an Egyptian hero when his armies entered the Israeli-occupied   Sinai Peninsula to reclaim the territory taken from Egypt six years prior. By challenging then – Israeli General Ariel Sharon, Sadat lent a new image to Egypt – one of significance in the global political arena.

The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, signed in March of 1979, succeeded in forcing Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and gave the   Suez Canal   back to Egypt.  The treaty forced the public  recognition of one another.  It was unprecedented that an Arab state recognize the existence of Israel.  This treaty remains in effect today.

Sadat’s relationship with the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was the strongest connection between Egypt and Iran in history, and it was a personal one. Iran was the exclusive pipeline supplier to the Soviet nation via the   Kazi Magomed Astara Abadan Pipeline   and sat on the most oil-rich reserves in the world.  Sadat’s unique and iron-clad friendship with Iran was envied and questioned by global adversaries and powerful allies alike.

"How can you prove you are not a bad person? You can't prove that.” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, September, 2010

So why was Anwar Sadat’s Presidency the closest we will ever come to securing the   flow of energy   in the Middle East?

Sadat did what no one else could through a series of deliberate moves for his country.  He aligned Egypt with key international players and forced Israel to see him as an equal.   Perhaps most notably, Sadat and Egypt  controlled the Suez Canal and the   80,000 barrel-a-day   Abu Rudeis field in Sinai.  He exploited  a personal connection to Iran, an allegiance to the conservative Arab countries and garnered the financial backing of the United States.   Egypt’s new position was unprecedented and unexpected.

Sadat’s Presidency was an hour of calm in a week-long storm.  Hope, in the form of civility and reason, was emerging .  If Sadat could manipulate regional players to fit his plan,  there was more hope for American influence in the Middle East.

Sadly, the violence and unrest that are characteristic of the region shattered the calm.  At a celebration marking the   Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal,   Sadat was murdered by fundamentalists.  I cannot remember what group issued the Fatwa, or what was fundamental about them, but I do remember Anwar Sadat.

Sadat’s assassination returned the Middle East to the unpredictability that keeps the rest of the world nervous.  From regime, to sect to tribe,   the bounty of its geography   involves this area of the world in a colossal, and public, tug of war.  The recent and rapid spread of liberty could be a preview to the end of madness; I won’t hold my breath.

Many insist that the key to stopping regional violence is ending the   global dependency on fossil fuels.    This is a valid point that lacks only in the time it would take to implement.  Stability in the Middle East would ensure the   steady delivery of natural gas and crude.    Anticipated  deliveries and   well-planned production   could steady energy markets.  A healthy correlation of supply to demand in the marketplace could be a pre-cursor to serving under-developed nations.  Ultimately,   free-flowing energy   without the burden of politics, would take countries like China away from the   rampant production of carbon dioxide emissions   and move them towards importing the  crude oil volumes  they need without the inflationary reaction they don’t.   More importantly, these bountiful resources could be used to benefit their true owners – the peace craving people of the Middle East.

Presently, the   natural resources   rightfully owned by the people are manipulated and managed by the cartel OPEC.  According to their long-term strategic plan,  the mission of OPEC is, “to continue fueling world prosperity and ensure   market stability   for the benefit of all, while safeguarding the legitimate interests of its Member Countries.”   This statement seems to not align with the historic actions taken by OPEC’s member nations. The unfortunate reality is that energy , decade after decade, has become  global leverage to further questionable agendas.

"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves;and, under a just God, cannot long retain it." Abraham Lincoln, April, 1859

We wish the people of the Middle East Godspeed in their quest to end dictatorship and put rule in the rightful hands of the people.   Anwar Sadat once said, “I believe in human freedoms, freedom of expression, and in liberating our citizenry from any sense of fear or anxiety. Freedom is an integral whole; you either have full freedom or full slavery; there is no middle way….”

Revolutionaries will always find a friend in the United States of America.  We support the quest for the inalienable, God-given rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Sometimes the struggle to attain them requires a little elbow grease.  Sometimes it requires a little oil.

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