Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 15, 2016
Document Release Date: 
October 3, 2003
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
June 1, 1979
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7.pdf1.73 MB
National rshwirkfor Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100 Assessment Center Sadat's Liberalization Policy A Research Paper Secret 040002-7 Secret PA 79-10145 June 1979 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040.00212 4 25X1 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 p pilhkifick Se.cret ,D) "All 6 or Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001110040002-7 Assessment Center Sadat's Liberalization Policy A Research Paper Information as of! June 1979 has been used in preparing this report. Secret PA 79-10245 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100014Cf0169-7 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X6 25X6 25X6 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 Sadat's Liberalization Policy Introduction Egypt is in the midst of an election campaign precipitated by President Sadat to rid the People's Assembly of the most vocal critics of the peace treaty with Israel. The situation dramatizes Sadat's paradox- ical approach to liberalizing politics in Egypt. On the one hand, he has been responsible for unquestionable progress in moving Egypt away from authoritarian government and closer to Western-style democracy. He has allowed the formation of competing political parties for the first time since their abolition under Nasir, and the present election is the second he has sponsored since his liberalization program began. On the other hand, the parties Sadat encourages?his own and the official "opposition"?differ only slightly, while those offering real alternatives are barely toler- ated; the current election was called because Sadat could be almost certain of the defeat of most Assembly members actively opposing his policies; and the govern- ment has moved in recent weeks to discourage opposi- tion groups of both the left and the right. Despite Sadat's on-again, off-again approach to politi- cal liberalization, the overall impact of the program has been to strengthen his popularity. Most Egyptians appreciate the sharp contrast between Sadat's Egypt and the oppressive atmosphere created by Nasir. Even extremists of the left and right, who have on occasion seen their members rounded up, their printing presses raided, and their newspapers and magazines banned, have benefited from concern for their civil liberties; time and again, cases against extremists of both sides have been thrown out of court for lack of evidence. Critics of Sadat's policies chafe at his low threshold for tolerating opposing views, but such critics represent a distinct minority. Sadat does have most of the people on his side?or he could hardly move against his opponents by means of an election that will probably be largely free of direct government interference. tin life of the state for the benefit of his chi Idrei and, where necessary, maintaining discipline. The u er classes, who are better educated and might be ex )ected to compose the bulk of those eager for a mot.; rr 'lure democracy, have probably been disarmed to son e extent by Sadat's economic liberalization, wniel was in fact a return to a more conservative economic xilicy. They have been the primary beneficiaries of the "open door" policy? the restoration of a measure of pi vate enterprise, despite the retention of many of tne elements of the enlarged public sector created u ider Nasir. Egypt's economic "opening" has had mixed effe ts in the political sphere. One has been a wideniue of the gap between rich and poor. The revitalized calm pre- neurial class has eclipsed those who used to be t economic elite under Nasir?the military oft ice s and upper echelon bureaucrats. The resentment of piblic sector employees does not seem to have been t rat slated into significant political opposition, but the dank er is obvious. One factor mitigating the situation may be the avenues of upward mobility accessible to most E 1.yp- tians as a result of Sadat's combined politica an I economic reforms: educational opportunities. an I the availability of _jobs in other Arab countries, Ns hie 1 so far have survived Egypt's quarrel with the other iskrab states. Egypt's economy constitutes Sadat's Achilles' h.( sd? both because of the potentially disruptive effects economic malaise could spread throughout all SO -ial groups, and because the new economic currents 1 1 Egypt have hit the military particularly hard Sa lat's regime is based, in the last analysis, on military support?not on the approval of the peasants w h . constitute the bulk of the population and look on -;adat as one of their own! the Army is primarily concerned about bread and IIbutler issues and the future of the military, not questions of state such as the treaty with lsraol ( vhich it applauds) or the breach with other Arab states (which may grow more important over time, but .o far The bulk of the Egyptian people-I !probably see Sadat as he sees himself: as a father figure charged with ordering Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 is dismissed with the feeling that Egypt has paid its dues). Sadat's ability to maintain property in Egypt is limited in the best of times. His recent foreign policies have tied his hands still further, and he has com- pounded the problem by aggravating his quarrel with the other Arabs. As long as Egypt's economy is precarious, Sadat's position cannot be said to be 25X1 immune to threats. From the political point of view, however. Sadat has managed to manipulate political opponents with con- siderable skill. He has allowed both the left and the right outlets for legal activity?outlets that may prevent a buildup of underground activity. He has been hardest on the left, which has relatively little following in Egypt's traditional, deeply religious society. Yet even the left has a legal party and seats in the Assembly (possibly whittled down to one after the coming election). With the extreme right Sadat has been more careful. Until recently, the Muslim Brotherhood?the most influential voice on the right? was given considerable latitude; its monthly magazine was allowed to publish despite consistent opposition to government policies, and it was allowed to dominate student activity on university campuses. In recent weeks the regime has moved against the right on both counts, though the approach has been restrained to avoid provoking a showdown. Sadat has no wish to confront the Brotherhood?with its tremendous influ- ence?and equally little wish to allow an Iranian-style revolution to coalesce. His strategy seems to be to ensure the continued absence of an organized religious movement or charismatic leadership that could focus 25X1 discontent against the regime. Right wing dissidents?and leftists as well, though to a lesser extent?draw much of their strength from their appeal to Egyptian students, a group significantly disenchanted by Sadat's leadership. They tend to look at political activity with the naivete of youth and the arrogance of budding intellectuals; they have no patience with relative improvement, preferring to deal in absolutes; they are too young to have vivid memories of Nasir's regime, too sophisticated to be impressed by Sadat's "father of his people" approach. As a group, they represent a bulge in the population that is particularly frustrated by narrow opportunities for employment. Many take little comfort in new opportu- nities brought by the "open door" because they are Secret philosophically opposed to free enterprise. Sadat's recent warnings that political activity will no longer be tolerated on campus may have some effect in keeping the lid on active student dissent, but will not eliminate the problem. Sadat has approached political liberalization with a view to maximizing freedom of expression for his supporters and minimizing it for his critics. He believes that the majority of Egyptians support the moderate positions he has taken in Egypt's domestic and foreign policies. He therefore risks little by giving them freedom to express their views in political parties and elections to an Assembly that does not make policy but does serve as an influential forum for opinion. Where individuals and groups in Egypt go beyond "construc- tive" criticism?and Sadat has revealed himself to be thin-skinned in defining these limits?Sadat reins them in. The net effect of liberalization, in political terms, has been an Egypt that allows an impressive degree of political freedom when judged by the standards of neighboring states, but where critics of the government are kept on a tight leash?a situation Sadat has every intention of maintaining. Sadat's approach to liberal- ization has not been consistent from a philosphical point of view. Pragmatically, however, Sadat has been predictable in encouraging behavior that will solidify his position and discouraging behavior that might undercut it. So far his judgment has been correct, and Egyptians have supported him for it. The likelihood of a prolonged stalement in the negotia- tions with Israel over the future status of the West Bank will probably pose additional problems for Sadat and his political liberalization program in the coming year. Although the general public is likely to stand behind Sadat almost reflexively, at least for a consider- able period of time, the left and the right will be eager to seize on the situation to exacerbate popular discon- tent, augmenting their own following in the process. Even a tame Assembly, the likely outcome of the June 1979 elections, may find the temptation to attack Sadat's policies irresistible. Sadat is not likely to prove tolerant of such activities; his previous responses to criticism have given him a fund of precedents for dealing with it?ranging from the arrest of leftists and radical rightists to a referendum authorizing harsh 2 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A00110006f6-7 emergency measures or a new election. Sadat will not hestitate to do what he feels he must; he may even exhibit greater sensitivity to criticism than before out of frustration with the Israelis. Nevertheless, he will probably keep the basic outlines of his liberalization program intact?if only because it offers few barriers to whatever measures he may contemplate. He knows its existence will enhance his standing in the eyes of the 25X1- public. Discussion Egypt's Anwar Sadat is a duly elected President and the country has an elected assembly, political parties, and other democratic institutions. But the veneer of democracy is thin. Sadat has inaugurated a "political liberalization" program that has introduced only carefully selected reforms. In Iran, such a process spun out of control. The question naturally arises whether Sadat has been more successful. Why did Sadat embark on the reform program?is he genuinely committed to democracy, or is it a cynical attempt to embellish an autocratic regime with democratic trappings? Have his reforms unleashed forces no longer amenable to control, forces that could ulti- mately topple Sadat? This paper will attempt to 25X1 answer these questions. 25X1 Sadat's Motives Sadat seems to have a genuine revulsion for the excesses of Nasir's brand of authoritarianism, and has gone a long way toward reversing them. If he has not substituted Western-style democracy, he also has justification for supposing that democracy will not work in Egypt, with its high percentage of illiteracy, its impoverished and uneducated peasantry, its reflexively left-leaning intelligentsia, its vast and possibly unbridgeable gap between haves and have-nots, and its pharonic tradition. Sadat wants to allow the people of Egypt freedom to manage their own affairs within parameters that are not defined, but which are set by Sadat. In essence, he wants them to choose to do what he thinks is best for them. This concept appears internally inconsistent, but Sadat is operating within a centuries-old tradition of paternalistic rulers, and he may be correct in assuming that a father-leader is needed by the population. 3 Certainly he has few doubts about his own time .s for the job. Sadat identifies with the "real- people e f Egypt, the peasants or fellaheen. In the first ser ,ence of his autobiography, Sadat describes himself a: a "peasant born and brought up on the banks oft Nile," and he speaks with considerable emotion about his village of Mit Abul-Kum. ("That was my id :al society, where I recognized myself and my erttin: homeland. For a very long period Egypt to me r leant Mt Abul-Kum.") From Sadat's conviction that he has unique access to the "soul" of Egypt follows his belief that true democracy for Egyptians consists in to lowing hi prescriptions. Sadat has made real progress in dismantling so ne of the worst excesses of Nasir's repressive, author tarian regime. In addition, he has introduced reforms aat are democratic by anybody's standard- reformsx1 police practices, competing political parties, genuine ebate in the country's National Assembly, a free-whtAing press?all in conjunction with a reorientation c. the centralized economy toward free enterprise 25X1 25X1 Sadat's political liberalization sprang from a va iety of motives, including what seems to have been a s ncere abhorence of the system as it evolved under Na sir. Sadat has commented on his reaction to Nasir's regime at some length in his autobiography: 25X1 The worst and ugliest feature of Nasir's legacy was what I have called a "mountain of hiltrer ? - the spirit of hate which was emanated in eve y direction and at every level, to the smallest f _mily unit. Instances were rife of men working for the regime who spied on their own kin just like t Fascist regimes... . Fear is, I believe, a mos effective tool in destroying the soul of an inc.vid- ual--and the soul of a people. People thus turned into dummies. They beet me puppets in the hands of rulers, who did what they liked with them. Travel abroad was forbidde 1. No one could say anything that appeared to eon ra- diet the official line of thinking (the penalty oeing arrest and loss of livelihood). People's paskil ity increased daily until one day no man felt he .ould Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 be secure unless he had completely kept to himself, cut himself off entirely, both from public events and from the very stream of life around him. It is this that makes me say that just as the July 23 Revolution was colossal in its achievements, so it was equally colossal in its mistakes. In time, however, the achievements fizzled out . .. The revolution was reduced to a huge, dark, and terrible pit, inspiring fear and hatred but allowing no escape. Sadat's sincerity is unmistakable. He has a commit- ment to individual freedom and a system of law that is not so much logical and philosophical as it is emotional. Other motives for Sadat's political liberalization pro- gram were more pragmatic. He realized that political liberalism was a means of earning points in the West? particularly the United States, whose support he needed to curb ties with the Soviets and reach an accommodation with Israel. He may also have recog- nized that greater political freedom would improve the climate for private investment, both domestic and 25X1 25X1 foreign. The Economic Opening Sadat inherited a poor country that was economically stagnant. In his autobiography he comments that "We had, with crass stupidity, copied the Soviet pattern of socialism, although we lacked the necessary resources, technical capabilities, and capital." In his own mind, the root of the problem was Marxism. Any free enterprise system came to be regarded as odious capitalism and the private sector as synonymous with exploitation and robbery.. .. The people expected the state to provide them with food, work, housing, and education. ... The state was expected to provide citizens with everything they needed without their having to make any positive effort at all. It was that shrinking back from active individual enterprise that marked the beginning of our abysmal eco- nomic collapse. Secret Sadat's "economic opening," proclaimed shortly be- fore the 1973 war, was an attempt to encourage private enterprise while curbing the power and size of the public sector. In addition, efforts to improve public sector efficiency were initiated. Capital from the oil- producing states, and perhaps from the West, would be wedded to Western technology. The result would be an inflow of foreign investment capital, Egyptian access to advanced technology, a role for indigenous capital in an expanding private sector, and greatly improved employment possibilities for Egyptian labor. There were political dimensions to the plan as well. They followed from Sadat's bitter disillusionment with the Soviet Union as an ally and arms supplier (Soviet military personnel were expelled from Egypt in 1972) and his conviction that the United States, despite its support of Israel, could prove more useful. If the United States could, by exerting its leverage on Israel, obtain for the Arabs a treaty more favorable than they could hope to obtain by force of arms, a stable Middle East would be a natural field for US investment. The wealth of the Arab oil states might be harnessed to Egypt's benefit if the conservative Saudis and Persian Gulf states saw Egypt renounce its Soviet tie and embrace a greater degree of economic freedoms. Thus US efforts to hammer out an Arab-Israeli peace settlement and Sadat's effort to revitalize the Egyptian economy would work hand in glove to bring about a stable, prosperous Egypt. Sadat unquestionably overestimated the role that Western private capital would play. Incentives and guarantees were legislated, and Cairo did indeed see a steady stream of Western company representatives and Arab delegations. The resulting projects, however, were few. Private Western interests were not eager to invest their own capital in Egypt, preferring instead to sell management expertise and equipment. Potential investors feared regional instability; memories of the nationalizations of the Nasir era were not easily eradicated; and foreign investors were faced with an overwhelming bureaucratic maze. The situation has not been improved by a proliferation of middlemen eager to expedite business operations?for a fee?or by Egypt's overburdened communications and transpor- tation system. Technically skilled workers have been 4 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A0011000415VV7 lured to the oil-producing Arab countries by higher wages, creating serious labor shortages in critical areas?basic services, especially construction, water, sewerage. The ballooning post-1973 inflation rate caps the list of discouraging factors. To a considerable extent, however, the private Egyp- tian has assumed the entrepreneurial role originally expected of foreign investors. Some of these Egyptian entrepreneurs are prerevolutionary elite returning with a small fraction of their massive assets to test the economic waters in Sadat's Egypt. Public sector firms are also taking advantage of liberalization to form joint ventures with private interests?monied Egyptians, other Arabs, or, in the case of Arab contractors, their own workers. Perhaps the most prevalent source of entrepreneurial talent, however, are nouveau riche Egyptians back from the affluent oil kingdoms of the Persian Gulf. The numerous investments now occur- ring outside the public sector are typically initiated by an Egyptian or Egyptians, possibly with an Arab partner, and are concentrated in light manufacturing industries heavily dependent on imported Western technology. The resurgence of the entrepreneurial class has created greater disparities in income than existed in Nasir's day. During the heyday of Arab socialism in Egypt the economic elite were military officers and upper echelon bureaucrats who earned the maximum salary of $450 monthly in Egypt or somewhat more in positions arranged by the government abroad. Even though such salaries have been increased substantially, they are now a pittance compared to incomes that can be obtained in other Arab countries or earned in unoffi- cial economic activities at home. Many public sector employees moonlight in the private sector or turn to corruption to maintain even a semblance of their former economic status. With little hope of expanding their output and no opportunities for moonlighting at hand, the rural peasantry has been left behind, existing in a manner than even the urban unskilled would now disdain. On the other hand, liberalization and social reforms have created an avenue of upward mobility potentially accessible to almost everyone in Egypt. For two decades free public education has been available even in rural villages, increasing the literacy rate dr mati- cally among the young of Egypt's preponderart- ly youthful population. Moreover, all who qualify are el Igiblc to attend a wide variety of technical iru titutes and Egypt's highly respected colleges and uaivi rsities at government expense. These educational opportuni- ties and the lure of the booming informal econc my are siphoning off much of the underemployed la boa from the countryside. From Cairo and other Egyptia i cities the route for the skilled worker leads to Saudi r.rabia and other affluent Arab countries and thence ? pc rhaps?to the ranks of Egypt's new elite. 25X1 A principal danger now is that the pace of econ mic activity will itself become destabilizing. Since 1)73 many of the economic institutions developed dui ing the Nasir era have been altered or eclipsed by priva te or quasi-private counterparts. There is, moreover, .:onsid- erable evidence that the government is losing control, in part because it tends to opt for laissez-faire whenever assuming responsibility for reform appears unpalatable. A case in point is the financial sect 3r. Because the government long avoided an adcqu ite devaluation, resisted administrative reforms aria shut its eyes to a wide variety of private transgressice is, a large share of financial transactions now takes lace outside the purview of official banking institutions. As a result the government is left with an inadequai e arsenal of effective policy instruments to contra credit expansion, interest rates, and the exchange rate 25X1 Political Liberalization Sadat's political liberalization program was ant .2r- taken to remove remnants of the Nasirist reeim to generate political support and increase his own popu- larity; to complement the "open door" polic3i by convincing private domestic and foreign investoi s of his distance from Nasir and acceptance of A estc:rn ide.ts; and, in its later phases, to offset the social dislocation caused by new economic directions 25X1 Sailat launched his liberalization program shorty after the October 1973 war, at the same time hit, open door policy got under way. Egyptians consideret that war an unequivocal victory, since it had fulfilled Arab oblectives behind its launching: it made Israel interested in negotiating a settlement. Sadat's pr .stige, both domestically and throughout the Arab ?aor-1.1, had Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 never been higher. Fresh from his triumph as "hero of the crossing," Sadat felt secure enough to set in motion major changes. In February 1974 he lifted censorship of the press and replaced Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal?a widely influential pro-Nasirist?as editor of Egypt's semiofficial newspaper, Al Ahram. His replacement, who later moved over to Al Akhbar, was Ali Amin, himself the victim of repression in the Nasir years; his brother Mustafa, who became chief editorial writer, had spent nine years in jail on charges of spying for the CIA. One immediate result was a press campaign highlighting Nasir's violations of human 25X1 rights. Other measures added to the sense that the pace of political relaxation was quickening. Large numbers of political prisoners were released. Police blacklists were reduced. Properties seized in the 1960s were returned. Traditional systems of local administration were re- stored in place of an Arab Socialist Union structure 25X1 that had grown both oppressive and corrupt. A series of incidents in the spring of 1974, however, prompted Sadat to slow down. Most of the agitation took place on the right side of the political spectrum, and presumably originated in discontent over modern ization measures promoted by Sadat but not specifi- cally linked to his political reforms. Students and teachers from Al Ahzar University, the leading Muslim seat of learning, demonstrated against the liberalization of divorce laws giving greater rights to women. An abortive attack on the Military Technical Academy, though organized by a Palestinian allegedly in Libyan pay, was carried out largely by conservative young men influenced by the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood. A street demonstration on behalf of a Brotherhood leader, mistakenly thought to be under arrest in connection with the Academy incident, shook the security authorities. The other side of the political spectrum was heard from when about 80 Egyptians, most of them young, were arrested for distributing pamphlets attacking secularization, "de-Nasiriza- tion," and Sadat. In reaction, Sadat began to empha- size the continuity between Nasir's programs and his own, speaking of "corrections" rather than basic 25X1 change. But he continued to press ahead. Secret Sadat presented the philosophical underpinnings for his liberalization program in his "October paper" (a reference to the 1973 war; it was published on 18 April 1974). Sadat argued that the war had inaugurated a new era in Arab self-respect, and that Egyptian energies that had made the victory possible should now be turned to Egypt's own problems. The Egyptian revolution had achieved much, but it had lost sight of the supremacy of law and had failed to achieve political freedom; corrections were in order. Much of the paper concentrated on Sadat's open door economic policy and his ideas about developing the educational system, improving the status of women, and construc- tion and reconstruction. He described one of the 10 tasks of the "new stage" ahead as establishing "an open society enjoying the winds of freedom," but, characteristically, he said nothing concrete about how this was supposed to be achieved. Sadat began with the Arab Socialist Union, the country's sole legal political organization. He was not yet ready to allow multiple political parties because, in his view, they would shatter domestic unity, but he did reject "the idea of one party which imposes its tutelage on the masses, abolishes freedom of opinion, and in practice deprives the people from practicing their political freedom." Sadat had in mind a compromise between a one-party system and a multiparty system: retention of the ASU, but provision for competing points of view within it. The Arab Socialist Union Political parties were abolished in Egypt in 1953 because Nasir's official ideology equated multiple parties with decadence and corruption. Even the word "party" was avoided as potentially divisive. In their place, Nasir established a number of political organi- zations designed to drum up and channel support for the regime. None of them was particularly successful: the Liberation Rally in 1953; the National Union in 1956; and finally, after the collapse of the union with Syria, the Arab Socialist Union in 1962. In each case the organization was intended to maximize control, not transmit popular views. 6 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A00110004k6V7 The ASU was pyramidal in structure, with its base composed of units in every village, city quarter, factory, and institution in the country. In theory, each level elected the one above until the process culminated in the Higher Executive Committee with the president himself as its chairman. In practice, of course, the system worked by appointment from the top down, and other controls were built in. After an initial burst of organizational activity which drew in perhaps 7 million members, the ASU became mired in inertia. In October 1965, however, Nasir appointed Ali Sabri, then prime minister, Secretary General of the ASU. Ali Sabri began to push the ASU to grasp ever greater powers. Membership became the prerequisite for a successful career, and candidates for posts of every sort were required to be ASU members. Trade Union appointments and the membership of workers' committees were subjected to the scrutiny of the ASU. Like party organizations in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the ASU ran parallel to and interlocked with the state at all levels; it now began to interfere with its direction. Toward the end of 1965, ASU executive bureaus were set up in all provinces in order to get rid of "deviationist, negative, and reaction- ary elements" of the local administration. Simulta- neously, Ali Sabri carried out an intensive purge of ASU personnel throughout the country, getting rid of about 3,000 insufficiently active members and consoli- dating his personal control over the organization. Ali Sabri's power, and the pre-eminence of the ASU, survived Nasir's death in September 1970 and the early months of Sadat's presidency. In May 1971, however, Ali Sabri pushed Sadat too far in an attempt to preserve his position from gradual erosion?or, perhaps, gave Sadat an excuse he was already waiting for to act against him. The issue involved Sadat's agreement?without prior consultation with the ASU?to a federation of Egypt, Syria, and Libya. Ali Sabri questioned Sadat's authority to make such a commitment and engineered what amounted to a vote of censure against Sadat. Sadat, after vetting his plan with the military, fired Ali Sabri (then a vice president, 7 although still running the ASU) and dismissed half the abinet and more than 300 officials from all I vels of the government, the media, and the ASU. Sad at was left in firm, and undisputed, control. The ASU never regained the power it had aim ssed before Ali Sabri's abrupt departure. It Higner F.xecu- tive Committee was dismissed in the purge: Sit tat n-ver named replacements. For a time, rela dons with the Soviets, the 1973 war, and negotiations wil tithe Israelis distracted Sadat from domestic changi that differed too radically from Nasir's model: he nay also have been wary of antagonizing the Nasirists v hile critical changes were afoot in the field of foreit n affairs. In August 1974, when he began to turn his atteition to setting his own imprint on Egypt's internal iife Sadat issued a "white paper" proposing modest chain es in the operation of the ASU. This step tapped a ch ep vein oi popular resentment; it unleashed floodgates if newspaper commentaries and debates on the ft ior of the People's Assembly. Prominent Egyptians mithusi- astically suggested constitutional reforms, including the reinstitution of the party system, the total dissociation of the president from the ASU, arm the protection of journalists from ASU control. In December, Sadat appointed a committee to si u ty how to make the ASU "an effective framework tor:- he working forces of the people." The study group reported within a week that the time was not vt t ripe for the establishment of political parties, alt hot, di it nt on to recommend expanded rights for the ..1.SU? the right to submit questions to government off cials and the right to demand the resignation of the government. In May 1975, Sadat announced that the ASU 1 as to be "rebuilt from the ground up." Elections wen to be held for all of the organization's seats- -10 men,bers from each basic unit, followed by elections at tie township and governorate levels. ASU memner-hip was no longer to be a prerequisite for a seat in tie People's Assembly, or for membership in trade anions or appointment to high office. A new definition sif the groups represented in the ASU "alliance" specil ed the Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 intelligentsia, the military, and "national capital- ism"?consistent with Sadat's insistence that his open door policy be made to work. Students were not included, and elections Within the "basic units" of the universities were deferred until the fall?indications that Sadat's willingness to experiment with greater political liberalism did not include an eagerness to invite dissent. The regime was undertaking a system- atic effort to reshape the ASU's image. Editorials in the ASU's official newspaper admitted that in previous years the organization had been "keen on representing the state rather than the people"; the coming elections were advertised as "neutral, genuine, and reflective of the people's will." 25X1 From Platforms to Parties In September 1975, Sadat issued a new statute governing the ASU. Its preamble emphasized the beginning of a new era and an "opening up" in Egypt of thought, economy, and policy to promote develop- ment, freedom, and socialism. Its most notable feature, however, was permission to establish various "minbars"*?platforms or forums?to enable mem- bers of the ASU to express differences of opinion more freely and systematically. The minbar idea was a way of allowing a limited amount of party activity without 25X1 actually allowing parties. 25X1 25X1 25X1 The idea was greeted with enthusiasm. Individual members of the People's Assembly moved almost immediately to announce their intention to form minbars, and by the end of November the list exceeded 30, with about half actually established. Sadat?who had been out of the country during the greatest surge of minbar formation?predictably moved to slow the process. The regime made it clear that the minbars were not supposed to debate the formation of policy but to discuss how best to carry out policies already established. * In a mosque, he minbar s a platform on which a reader sits to chant the Koran, and from which pronouncements are made. The metaphor, as used by Sadat, has some of the connotations of our "political platform," but with religious overtones similar to our "pulpit." Secret Sadat announced the upshot in March 1976. There were to be three political "organizations" (tanzim, not minbars) within the framework of the existing ASU: one centrist, following the orthodox government line and called the Arab Socialist Organization of Egypt; one rightist, confusingly named the Socialist Liberal Organization; and, to the left, the National Progressive Unionist Grouping. A joint conference of the ASU and the People's Assembly approved their establishment and named their leaders: Prime Minister Salim for the center; Mustafa Kamil Murad, a "free officer" and veteran parliamentarian, for the right; and Khalid Muhi al-Din, also a former "free officer" and the country's most prominent Marxist, for the left. The three groupings provided an outlet for expression to the country's major political elements, but two were specifically excluded?the rightwing religious conser- vatives, particularly those attracted to the Muslim Brotherhood and similar organizations, and the Nasirists, who opposed such key elements of Sadat's new policies as economic and social liberalism at home, a deemphasis of Pan-Arabism, and repudiation of the special relationship with the Soviet Union. The prime minister, the entire Cabinet, and an overwhelming majority of the assembly members flocked to sign onto the centrist organization to be close to the people dispensing patronage and other favors. Some of Murad's supporters made no bones about their fear that unless they joined with the "official" organization their chances for reelection would be sharply diminished. Eight of his initial 14 adherents in fact tried to withdraw from the rightist group, and agreed to stay on only at the urging of the speaker of the assembly. The leftists, meanwhile, were having troubles of their own, with Muhi al-Din fighting to prevent the takeover of his organization by Nasirists denied a grouping of their own. The three organizations prepared vigorously for the People's Assembly elections, scheduled for October 1976?the first in which political groups were allowed to participate since the abolition of political parties after the revolution. Each of 175 constituencies was to elect two members, one of which had to be a peasant or 8 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A00110004M2e17 worker, with "worker" defined to include senior administrators of companies and organizations. Over 1,600 candidates eventually came forward to contest the 350 seats, with the center standing in virtually all constituencies, the right fielding about 170 candidates, and the left 65. The big surprise, however, was the disproportionate number of independents?over 800- including candidates of every political stripe. Most Nasirists chose to run as independents, and so did some Marxists/Communists, on the theory that their chances would be better if they could avoid the "atheistic" label being applied to the official leftist group. The leftist party, easily the best organized of the lot, slanted its platform toward the laboring classes and concentrated its activity in rural districts. The leftists even attempted to woo the religious right by peppering their published statements with liberal quotes from the Koran and, on a less elevated plane, by bribing religious groups. The center party, in contrast, was undisciplined; in many constituencies its candidates were running against other center party candidates, a situation Prime Minister Salim, as party leader, made no effort to correct. Although center party candidates not infrequently made use of government funds and property, the regime maintained a "hands off" attitude throughout?a stance undoubtedly made easier by Sadat's conviction that the center party would win handily in any case. The elections were not without improprieties; votes were freely bought and sold (the going rate was reported to be an Egyptian pound), but such transgressions were conducted in a nondis- criminatory fashion?for the benefit of wealthy and influential individuals, not the regime. Candidates felt free to levy specific allegations of wrong-doing against incumbent Cabinet ministers; the regime intervened only to put down occasional instances of violence. The result was an overwhelming victory for the government's center party---275 seats to 12 for the right and only two for the left, with 48 seats going to independents. Sadat was clearly gratified by the results of his experiment with democracy, and decided to carry it one step further; at the opening of the newly elected assembly in November he proclaimed that the 9 political "organizations" had been elevated to he status of political parties?although politician:- were not required to belong to any of them Sadat Ii ted institutional changes that would follow, particularly changes needed to protect the parties from AS 3 domination. Parties were to enjoy "absolute freedom"to organize their activities within the limits of and the constitution. Sadat nevertheless described - he ASU's role as one of organizing the activities c the parties and stipulating how their finances weed I be controlled?obviously extensive fields of inflate ice. The contradiction arose from Sadat's deterinin ition to prevent the growth of a myriad of small parties each pi imarily a vehicle for an ambitious politician- the sort of outcome the minbar idea was evolving t,ward before Sadat called a halt. Sadat is fond of -ec fling the pre-1952 political chaos in Egypt as an exa nple to bc avoided at all costs. Sadat declared that the ASU would retain its s ibsid- iary secretariats (youth and women's organizat ons), as well as its partnership in newspapers?presu nably to ward off individual ownership and ensure eq al access to the media by all the parties. The ASI Central Committee, renamed the National Corgress, was to be expanded to include independents as well as senior officials of trade unions, agricultural coo sera- fives, chambers of commerce, and professional ,t-gani- zations. The idea seems to have been to return lie ASU to its initial conception as an "alliance ' o- popular forces. Finally, Sadat made it clear ilia the new parties were to abide by the three basic pri that had (supposedly) governed the ASU: natio ial unity (thus ruling out a party based on the Ishii tic or any other religion), socialism (suitably interore- ed by the regime), and social peace (to avoid class dis inc- tions). The People's Assembly responded to Sadat's ne freedoms by engaging in policy debates to an ur prece- dented degree, many of them involving the citns itu- tional status of parties and democratic practices in general. Initial activity centered on the large nu nber of independents who represented widely diverge it points of view but found common cause in claim ring for certain reforms: the adoption of more del aoc -a tic Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 rules of procedure within the assembly, such as abolishing the rule that at least 50 members must agree to any topic to be discussed from the floor; an unrestricted number of political parties, each with the right to issue its own newspaper; and greater freedom of assembly. Independents resented the fact that the rightist party was named the "official" opposition, believing that the leader of the opposition should have been elected at a meeting of all noncenter party deputies. The result was the emergence of an unofficial leader of the opposition, Hi1mi Murad, a democratic socialist who resigned from the Cabinet in 1969 to protest Nasir's emasculation of the judiciary, and who subsequently left the country until 1976. Murad and his followers were permitted to organize and publicize their views, although the leader of the rightist part 25X1 continued to head the "official" opposition. The official leader of the opposition, Mustafa Kamil Murad (the similarity of names is unfortunate), meanwhile made every effort to justify his title by conducting freewheeling attacks on the policy state- ments of the new government. Both Murads were more concerned with establishing their right to be fully informed and critical of any aspect of government policy than with influencing specific current policies, but they barred no holds in the debates. Prime Minister Salim was accused of desiring to be a dictator, usurping power, and running a slipshod government. The Egyptian press welcomed the un- precedented give-and-take as a sign of democratic health; Sadat's political liberalization policy by late 25X1 1976 had received an enthusiastic launch. After the 1977 Riots In early 1977 Sadat and the political liberalization program suffered a severe setback. Under pressure of Egypt's need for a stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the government an- nounced on 17 January?making no effort to prepare the ground in advance or cushion the blow?that because of cuts in government subsidies the price of such staples as bread, flour, tea, sugar, butane, and gasoline would double. The result was a spontaneous explosion of discontent on the part of the urban masses, peaceful at first but augmented and channeled by organized leftist elements, and directed against Sadat, his wife, the prime minister, and the speaker of the assembly. The rioting, the worst since the fall of the Secret monarchy, spread from Cairo and Alexandria to numerous provincial towns, forcing Sadat to order the Army into the streets and suspend the price increases; at least 50 people were killed and more then 700 injured. The regime blamed Egyptian Communists, and moved to crack down on leftists in general. Sadat invoked his constitutional power to take' imme- diate measures" to deal with a threat to national unity. He put forward an 11-point emergency decree stipulat- ing that imprisonment for life could be imposed for committing or instigating a variety of acts, including participation in a clandestine group or in a strike that could jeopardize the country's economy. As required by the constitution, a referendum on the emergency measures was held a week later and was predictably approved?by 99.42 percent of all votes cast. The regime probably took whatever steps were necessary to ensure the overwhelmingly positive vote, and may have rigged the ballot boxes to indicate a heavy turnout. A prominent rightist who had denounced Sadat's law- and-order decree was expelled from his assembly seat, and subsequent months saw successive waves of arrests and trials of alleged Communists. The riots and their aftermath blunted Sadat's move toward liberalization, but they did not produce a return to police state methods. The round-up of leftists ran afoul of the new respect for civil liberties; security services unfamiliar with the more stringent rules of evidence found case after case dismissed. In the summer of 1977, it was decided to dramatize the regime's breach with the Nasir era by bringing to trial in absentia the infamous Shams Badran, minister of war in 1967, charged with torturing political detainees of every stripe with such methods as flogging, rape, and savaging by dogs. Badran was ultimately sentenced to 30 years hard labor, as was his colleague Safwat al- Rubi. Sadat took the occasion of a speech to the faculty of Alexandria University in May 1977 to expound his personal political philosophy, which he dubbed "demo- cratic socialism." As Sadat put it, under Nasir's system the call for dictatorship of the proletariat masked a grab for dictatorship of the party leadership. Under democratic socialism, the reins of rule were no longer confined to one person or class; the rule of law 10 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 was sovereign and had to be respected even by the president, and the rights of the individual were sacred. "The aim of the open door," Sadat declared grandly, 25X1 "is man." In fact, the new law on parties debated in May and passed in June 1977 was somewhat less liberal than these sweeping pronouncements might have suggested. It did allow any 20 current members of the People's Assembly to form their own political party, a step that seemed to promise freedom to organize parties offering true alternatives to the government's program. But a provision was retained that allowed the regime to regulate which parties would be registered: the ASU was to set up a credentials committee on which the government's center party would hold a majority. When the committee was actually appointed in Sep- tember, it included the ministers of justice, interior, and local government, and was headed by the Secre- tary General of the ASU?a guarantee that the committee would hew closely to the wishes of the 25X1 regime. The credentials committee was not used to bar the formation of a fourth legal political party, the new Wafd Party, despite the fact that Sadat strongly opposed its establishment. The Wafd had been the majority party in Egypt for nearly three decades before the revolution of 1952, and the successful revolution- aries?including Sadat?felt that it had been thor- oughly discredited. Among conservative segments of the population?and they constitute a large body of public opinion in Egypt?the Wafd nevertheless re- tained considerable appeal, and its leaders announced their intention to re-form as soon as the controls were off new parties. The announcement was popular?an indication that the government's official center party had failed to strike a responsive chord in the country at large. Many suspected that a legal Wafd Party could rapidly grow into the majority party in Egypt, deposing the center party?and threatening Sadat with a 25X1 specter of true political opposition. Sadat was caught in a dilemma. He did not want to appear to violate the constitutional and legal frame- work he had just constructed with such fanfare. He probably was taken by surprise at the degree of interest sparked by the prospect of the Wafd's reemergence. 11 He first attacked the Wafd in various speeches, describing the system that existed prior to 19f 2 a "fake democracy" and denouncing the -voices ft im the hateful past." Newspaper editorials elabot ate d extensively on the theme?although a handfu ned that refusal to allow the Wafd to re-form would I ode ill for Sadat's trumpeted reestablishment of d.,;mi c- racy. . Sadat's personal opposition undoubtedly cu down the number of assembly members who wer prepared to subscribe to the new party, but did n whit tie the total to less than the magic number o 20: 22 members actually signed the application, and he number eventually grew to 24. Sadat decided that refusal to grant the Wafd's applicat on would make a mockery of his own program, and hat its legalization was a lesser evil than going back ?n his Own announced principles. The Wafd was leg illy reconstituted on 5 February 1978, and newspape editorials pointed out?with justification?that I ritics could no longer claim that democracy in Egypt vas solely a matter of form without substance. Resurgence of the Religious Right In 1977 another, potentially more dangerous elia lenge emerged: a renewal of activity on the part of isla.nic fundamentalist organizations, and, in particular, a willingness on the part of the radical fringe te resort to violence. In July, the former minister of relig out affairs was abducted from his home by members of an Islamic group called al-Takfir wa-al-Hijra.1 he _T roup announced that it had taken this action because )1 the minister's attitude toward their movement, a ,,e- manded a ransom of 200,000 Egyptian pounds a id the release of 60 jailed members. The minister's ocv was found three days later; he had been murdered wt,211 the ult+ matum expired. The killers were ultimate 'y c iught, bui the incident touched off a wave of bombings in public places--a declaration of war, according t ) a Takfir spokesman, against the Sadat regime Vv ien the leader of a group was arrested, it was disi,x)v- red that the minister was intended to be the firstiarg;:t of a series of escalating urban terrorist actions. Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 The Takfir society?which may have had links with the considerably larger Muslim Brotherhood, which it resembled ideologically?was a fundamentalist move- ment rejecting Westernization and all modern innova- tions, and demanding the "establishment" of institu- tionalized Islam. The two central elements in its doctrine were the denunciation of the existing social and political order as an "infidel" system (takfir can be roughly translated "infidelization") and the conse- quent requirement that adherents disengage them- selves from society (hijra is a "flight" or "emigration" from evil). The organization provided military training and maintained stockpiles of arms and ammunition; members were obliged to sever all past ties and join a sort of commune, where they were subject to absolute obedience, and desertion was punished by death. The regime moved quickly against the Takfir. After a series of arrests and interrogations, 54 were brought before a military court. Although the regime, operat- ing in an atmosphere of public outrage against the Takfir, must have been tempted to dispense summary justice, the trial was conducted with fairness and impartiality. A defense lawyer was appointed for each of the accused; allegations of mistreatment of the prisoners were investigated; and although the group was taken before a military court, they were tried under the civil code. Additional individuals, indicted after the trial of the others had already begun, were subsequently released; others were freed without being charged because of lack of evidence. The scrupulous- ness of the regime slowed down the time of the trial, which took four months. Ultimately, five of the defendents were convicted and executed in March 1978. The crackdown on the Takfir uncovered at least two other ultrarightist religious groups?the "Soldiers of God" and the "Holy War Society"?and evidence suggestive of links with the Muslim Brotherhood. The affair brought to the fore the question of the regime's relationship with the Brotherhood?something Sadat found harder to deal with than the possible threat from the left, primarily because religious fundamentalism exerts a wider appeal in conservative Egypt than does the atheism of the Communist ideology. Secret The Muslim Brotherhood was founded as a semi- clandestine organization in 1928, and offered a politi- cal framework enabling middle- and lower-class Egyp- tians to express their anger at the pervasive Western hold over Egypt in all spheres?economic, political, and cultural. The Brotherhood developed effective methods of recruitment and action that made it a potential ally of the "Free Officers" who eventually carried out the revolution against the monarchy, and some of the officers?including Sadat?maintained personal connections with the Brotherhood. After the revolution, however, the Brotherhood was regarded as a dangerous rival and ultimately outlawed. Subsequent attempts by the Brotherhood to subvert the regime and eliminate Nasir himself resulted in the arrest and execution of many of its leaders and activists. In the spirit of Sadat's political liberalization, however, imprisoned members of the Brotherhood were released and exiles were permitted to return. Some even found posts in various governmental or religious bodies, such as the ministry of waqfs (religious endowments), the Council for Islamic Affairs, and Al-Azhar University. The Brotherhood managed to put out a number of regular publications, including the monthly al-Dawa, and resumed political activity on university campuses?where it pretty well controls student Islamic societies?as well as in various professional and labor circles. The Brotherhood was quick to denounce the Takfir and the other terrorist groups. It was not prepared for an open challenge to the government and clearly had no wish to jeopardize its own semilegitimate status and freedom of operation. At the same time, the Brother- hood sympathized to some extent with the ideology of the terrorists and may have provided support. as seen somew at at a oss to igure out an e ective way to deal with the religious right. There is consider- able evidence that he increasingly regards the Brother- hood as a danger, but until recently he has held back from launching a campaign against it out of fear of arousing a storm of protest from the conservative, 12 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100011f6g2-7 deeply religious Egyptian masses? Sadat's own natu- 25X1 ral constituency. In the spring of 1979, however?probably in an effort to suppress domestic opposition to his treaty with Israel?Sadat did take a number of measures designed both to curb criticism and to serve notice on conserva- tive groups that more extreme measures could be forthcoming. His first target was the Islamic student societies, which had provoked several incidents against Egypt's Christian minority, and had distributed leaf- lets opposing the peace treaty. In speeches to university and government officials in mid-April, Sadat warned that political activity would no longer be tolerated on university campuses; students ignoring the ban would be expelled. The student Islamic societies received special censure. The warnings were followed by the government's suspension of student union elections for the year; technical grounds were cited, but the real reason was probably to avoid increased gains by the religious right. Finally, al-Dawa, hitherto free to publish articles critical of the government, has 25X1 disappeared from the stands. Sadat undoubtedly hopes that these relatively mild measures will warn off the right from provoking an outright confrontation that would be extremely unpalatable for Sadat and work to the advantage of Egypt's leftists. On the other hand, Sadat has a short fuse?and no interest in seeing Egypt go the way of Iran. He will do what he feels he has to do to keep the 25X1 right within bounds. Retreat From Liberalization In the early months of 1978, Sadat seemed to see himself as besieged on all sides. The January 1977 riots were still fresh in his mind; and although the security forces may have exaggerated the degree of leftist involvement?and Sadat may have believed the exag- gerated version?the involvement was real. Now rightist extremist groups were turning to violence. The conservative Wafd Party, whose rebirth Sadat had reluctantly permitted, had struck a responsive chord throughout the country; its growing popularity could, if unchecked, eventually threaten Sadat' s own center party. The situation was exacerbated by the freewheel- ing, critical debates in the National Assembly, particu- larly the attack launched by Wafd delegates in April alleging corrupt activity on the part of the center party. 13 (The executive branch was accused of making nt w, subsidized apartments available to center party HE- cials.) Newly established newspapers of the official leftist and rightist parties (Al Ahali and Al Ahri r, respectively) joined in the attacks on the regime Ind met with a warm reception. Al Ahali was partici.larly well received in intellectual circles, and its critic sm of the government's domestic policies and of Sadat s peace initiative was influential. The mounting ea ti- cisin in turn provoked complaints from Sadat su 'port- ers that he was losing touch and allowing the go' ern- ment to drift under the inept leadership of Primt Minister Salim. Sadat might have been prepared to live with the criticism had his dramatic overture to Israel- -h trip to Jerusalem in November 1977?been successful. But that trip, applauded in the West and bewailed thiough- out the Arab world, failed to achieve the breakth rough Sadat sought. Negotiations bogged down and th specter of stagnation loomed, despite US attemt- is to maintain the momentum. Sadat was vulnerable in this issue. He could not give his critics a free hand tie generate popular pressure against him, fest this r :strict his freedom to negotiate. 25X1 25X1 Hi, counterattack began with the seizure on 12 kpril of in issue of Al Ahali containing a hard-hit-int aniiregime interview by Muhammed Hassanayi Ha ykal?the prominent Nasirist and former ed: t_or of Al Ahram. Sadat next used the occasion of his flay Da y speech to serve notice on opposition groups Referring to the Wafd, Sadat said that there we uld be no return to the corrupt practices that existed before 19s2, when ".5 percent of the populace rulec Ei vpt." He castigated the leftists, in turn, as "agents of iscow seeking to reestablish centers of power' - Sadat's code word for the group led by Ali Sabri which he had disposed of in May 1971. He hit out agai 1st the papers of the left and right, particularly Al Aho'i, for attempting to "destroy the social peace." His sti ungest criticism, however, was reserved for the "disrna level of recent parliamentary debate. Although he ga )e lip- service to parliamentary immunity, he called fo reform of the Assembly statutes so that menibe s of parliament would bear personal responsibility fr accusations against individuals. Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 In mid-May Sadat issued the text of a referendum that the people would be asked to endorse on 22 May. It banned from positions of influence anyone guilty of "defaming religious law"?something particularly ap- plicable to Communists. Anyone holding a Cabinet position before the 1952 revolution or playing a leading role in any prerevolutionary political party (with carefully drawn exceptions designed to protect several people close to Sadat), was forbidden to belong to a political party?a measure directed against the three key leaders of the Wafd. The most far-reaching measure provided that anyone convicted of corrupting political life or even "considered" to have broadcast false reports would be banned from public life. (The targets here were Egyptian journalists who published critical comments in foreign media.) The referendum would also create a "socialist public prosecutor" with authority to investigate atheists, pre-1952 leaders, and writers. Passage of the referendum was never in doubt, although the regime presumably inflated the figures; the announced 98.29 percent in favor seemed unlikely in the face of sparse voter turnout. A bill was promptly drafted to carry out the provisions of the referendum and just as promptly passed. A certain amount of due process was retained. The socialist prosecutor was to submit his cases to the appropriate authority?the prime minister in the case of government officials, the Higher Press Council for journalists, the trade unions for labor officers, the ASU parties committee in the case of political parties, and the Assembly in the case of prerevolutionary politicians. Politicians had 10 days to rebut the prosecutor's case; everyone else had the right of appeal to an ad hoc judicial body. The referendum and its implementing legislation served notice on the Egyptian body politic that it was free to operate only within narrow limits. Now that Sadat had engineered the regime's right to rein in opponents, however, he no longer perceived the need to exercise it. The powers provided by the new legislation were, for all practical purposes, never invoked?although of course they remain on the books, probably sufficient deterrent in itself. The most significant effect of the antiliberal legislation was the result of self-censorship: the new Wafd Party?probably the most vital component of the Egyptian political scene?dissolved itself, and the legal Secret leftist party "froze" its activities, although it remained in being. The Wafd presumably chose not to operate if it could not do so with its old leaders; in addition, it probably hoped to dramatize Sadat's failure to adhere to his own enunciated principles. Sadat, nevertheless, was undoubtedly delighted to see the primary thorn in his side vanish in such a cooperative manner, particu- larly since in subsequent speeches he was able to stress that his opponents had taken their own decisions to dissolve or lie low; they had not been shut down by the government. The Aftermath: Striking a Balance Sadat seems to have launched his liberalization process in a genuine effort to bring a degree of democracy to Egypt, but he clearly never intended to permit full democracy in the Western sense of the word. Probably he believed, naive as it sounds, that his popularity would soar in the eyes of a grateful populace. He had always seen himself as uniquely able to understand the "soul" of the "true Egyptian"?by which he meant the devoutly religious villager, not the intellectual who was likely to be a leftist and a chronic complainer. He therefore did not expect to have to contend with the storm of criticism that mushroomed in Egypt's newly liberal atmosphere. Just as he had accelerated the liberalization process against the advice of his closest advisers, even in the wake of the January 1977 riots, so when he decided a correction was in order his actions appeared unnecessarily abrupt and harsh. In his own mind they did not constitute a withdrawal of democ- racy since, in his view, the criticisms were not the acts of a responsible opposition but incitement of the masses to turn to violence. Even so, many of the gains of the period of liberalization were left intact. What died was the spirit of exuberance with which Egyptians went about uncovering flaws in their own institutions; Sadat was not prepared to countenance the rough-and- tumble of democratic dissent. Perhaps he was correct in gauging that he could not afford to do so. The more repressive features of the crackdown were ignored. A half-formed attempt to create a national "code of ethics" that might have injected still more restrictions into public life never got off the ground; instead, in a speech in July 1979, Sadat called on each party, union, syndicate, institute, and organization to formulate its own code and apply it to its members. Sadat nevertheless clearly decided that something had 14 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002m7t to be done to deal with the criticisms that had surfaced earlier in the year, particularly of his government's economic policy and the allegations of corruption. His plan was threefold: a new cabinet would be formed, in order to bring a new look into the handling of economic policy; many of his former close associates would be summarily dismissed, bringing new faces to the fore? either to do a better job than the old crew or to deflect criticism from Sadat himself; and a brand new official party, complete with a brand new opposition, would be launched?yet another attempt to inject some vitality into Egypt' political life, while confining that activity within strictly controlled channels. The unprecedented aspect of the plan was Sadat's decision to place himself at the head of the new party.' ihe Assembly Sayid Mari, for years one 01 Sa lat's most trusted advisers on domestic affairs, wat dis- missed. The change of faces at the top was ac -ompa- nied by the replacement of virtually the entire military command?probably an attempt by Sadat to orestall potential disaffection from that quarter mile: than a move against known dissidents. The result wa the creation of a new team?one that could presice over a new era in the country's affairs, if the project .1 treaty with Israel were completed smoothly. At the vi ry least, the changes would give the public the illusion if motion, the feeling that some of their earlier a iticisms had been taken seriously. Perhaps the key adv ntage, in Sadat's eyes, was the likelihood that his reit aining Iadvisers would think twice before disagreeibg dth any w his proposed courses of action. I The new Cabinet was announced on 5 October shortly alter the selection of Mustafa Khalil as Prime Minis- ter. The change was heralded as bringing to t h fore a "new generation" of politicians, although the r :w faces-21 out of 31 Cabinet members?did no differ greatly from their predecessors. In an effort to ive the impression that the regime was moving prompt y to deal with economic grievances, Sadat ordered K halil to assign top priority to food production, improve( public services, and reorganization of the bureaucracy ?a charge similar to that given the preceding Ca bi let. Some of the changes made were largely cosmet c but did represent an effort by Sadat to ease populat fears that his liberalization policy was to be reversed altogether. For example, the Ministry of Inforit ation and Culture?which had been providing officia, guid- ance to all media and to cultural organizations- was abolished. Statements by Sadat and the new pi, ne minister stressed the government's desire to strelgthen freedom of the press by putting radio, TV, and newspapers under newly created "autonomous" igen- cieis. It was announced at the same time that the press was to be supervised by a Higher Press Council- -a body already existing but with little real power. Sadat announced his intention to form the party, with himself at the head, in July 1978, but nothing was done to organize it for some months?possibly a result of Sadat's preoccupation with his languishing peace initiative and, in September, the distraction of Camp David. An overwhelming majority of the Assembly members-238 out of 360?signed the new party's application for legal status, submitted in late Septem- ber. In a speech in October, however, Sadat promised that the massive majority of the new party?now baptized the National Democratic Party?would not be used to stifle the opposition; he did not intend a return to one-party rule. The firings of several of Sadat's closest advisers and other key aides began almost immediately after Sadat's return from Camp David. Minister of War Jamasi, considered to be unswervingly loyal to Sadat, was dumped early in October; his replacement, former intelligence chief Kamal Hassan Ali, took Jamasi's seat at the peace negotiations with the Israelis in Washington. Prime Minister Salim, who had been the target of much of the freewheeling criticism earlier that spring?possibly as a surrogate for Sadat?was replaced by Mustafa Khalil, an economist untainted by the charges of corruption and inefficiency that brought down Salim. Sadat' close confidant, Ashraf Marwan,1 lwas removed as head of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, possibly as a symbol that the regime's crackdown on corruption was serious. A few days later, Speaker of 25X1 25X1 Sadat's new party attracted so much support am mg members of the Assembly that it appeared for a ime that no opposition party could be successfully foi med. 15 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 There was talks of lowering the legal requirement for forming a party from 20 sponsoring members to 10?a move the regime resisted, since it could have opened the door to the formation of "undesirable" parties. Instead, Sadat intervened personally to encourage his own political supporters to join the ranks of the budding Socialist Labor Party, no doubt assuring them that they would not be left devoid of patronage to dispense. Sadat may have made clear his determina- tion to establish a "loyal opposition" on the Western model, but as its formation from the ranks of his own supporters suggests, the differences between the two parties are imperceptible; the Socialist Labor Party is perhaps slightly to the right of Sadat's NDP. Indeed, the maneuver creating the new opposition was presum- ably greeted with considerable cynicism by the politi- cally aware?damaging Sadat's credibility as a leader. Only two members remain of the old legal leftist party, the Progressive Unionist Grouping. There are perhaps 40 or so Independents?the real political opposition in Egypt?a figure that includes about 27 former center party members. T11e old center party has been assimi- lated by the NDP. In an address to the People's Assembly in November, Sadat stressed his determination to implement "full democracy" in Egypt. Describing himself as the "father of the Egyptian family"?a description that capsulizes Sadat's basically patriarchal approach to governing, an approach not strictly compatible with democracy in the Western sense?Sadat avowed his intention to treat his own party and the opposition equally. In order to establish "full democracy," Sadat called for the early passage of constitutional amend- ments to reflect the abolition of the ASU (Sadat had not waited for the amendments to effect the change), facilitate the establishment of a multiparty system, 25X1 and redefine the role of the press] As 1979 dawned, Sadat began to strike a new theme in his speeches?his intention to inaugurate "government decentralization," which he hailed as ushering in a new era of democracy. The new policy, as Sadat described it, is supposed to mean a transfer of authority to each and every citizen?marking a turning point in Egyp- tian history, which has seen more than 4,000 years of 25X1 centralized government. Secret So far, however, governors are still appointed by Sadat (most recently last November), although a special point is supposed to be made of selecting men who are native to their areas, and the local assembly delegates are consulted to "guarantee" the governors' accept- ability to the populace. The primary effect of the decentralization program will apparently be financial, not political. The governors and local councils are to be given the right to decide on the use of funds provided them for development projects?under guidelines es- tablished by the central government. The result will hardly be a step forward in the development of grass- roots democracy, although the program may give the people a sense of being in somewhat greater control of their own destinies. The government apparently hopes to institute direct election of provincial governors at some point?but there is no sign that the step will be soon in coming. The Latest Moves The signing of the peace treaty with Israel in March 1979 thrust Egyptian foreign policy into totally new channels. Atlhough the treaty was greeted with widespread enthusiasm in Egypt, there were dissident voices?including some within the Assembly itself. Several of the most respected independents were particularly outspoken in their criticism, both within the Assembly and in press conferences. Although the Assembly ratified the treaty by a massive majority early in April, Sadat was apparently infuriated by the 15 negative votes and 25 abstentions?out of a total of 360. As usual, sure that he knew what was best for the country and unwilling to tolerate the "carping" of intellectuals divorced from the mainstream of the people, Sadat decided that his critics had to go. He obviously figured that he could capitalize on the overwhelming support for the treaty throughout the country to ensure their removal in a way that would appear democratic. The day after the Assembly vote, Sadat announced a referendum at which the public would not only approve the treaty but also endorse the dissolution of the People's Assembly and call for a new election. The sweetner, enabling him to portray the exercise as a step toward greater democracy rather than the reverse, was his announcement that the requirement that there be 20 Assembly members among the founders of any new party would be dropped?though the concession was 16 Approved For Release 2003/10/23: CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Approved For Release 2003/10/23: CIA-RDP80T00942A001100hEl62-7 hedged with other restrictions that guaranteed ulti- mate government control. The founders of any new party still had to number at least 50, half of them workers and peasants; its program had to be submitted to a seven-member "parties committee"?the obvious point of government interference, enabling it to be sure it could tolerate any parties formed; the party program had to be different from those of existing parties, thus ensuring against a proliferation of small and virtually indistinguishable parties; and the "basic principles of the state"?social justice, national unity, and the absence of religious, racial, and other discrimination? had to be followed. The government was thus able to continue existing bans against rightwing Muslim parties (which could be considered religiously dis- criminatory) and Communist parties (considered to advocate a totalitarian system). Sadat's decision to dissolve the Assembly was, needless to say, unpopular among Assembly members, who would have to pay for a new campaign and face the possibility of losing their seats. It also aroused concern on the part of some middle-class Egyptians, basically convinced of Sadat's commitment to political liberal- ization but nervous about the future of their newly gained freedoms. Some regarded the maneuver as capricious; after all, the Assembly had just over- whelmingly ratified the treaty with Israel. Others, with little sympathy for Sadat's left- and right-wing critics, merely considered the step unwise, believing that the Assembly needs a true opposition to act as a brake on the government and that Sadat's scheme, while consti- tutional, established a dangerous precedent a successor could use to reverse Sadat's liberalizing changes. The referendum, held on 20 April 1979, resulted in near-unanimous support for the peace treaty and Sadat's planned reorganization of the government. The stage was therefore set for new elections, scheduled to take place on 7 June. One prospective party promptly applied for legal status: the National Front, basically the informal coalition of leftists, rightists, and independents existing in the previous parliament and led by an outspoken independent. The National Front's application has obviously irritated Sadat, and a week before the election the regime still had not approved the application. 17 There is little doubt that Sadat's NDP will win b g in the coming elections. The government will take etre to put up strong candidates to run against the often t ling leftists and independents and will make it cles.r that a vote for the NDP is a vote for peace, patriotism, nd Sadat. As of late May, back-room deals had tire idy been struck with a view to ensuring that the r:su ts of the election are acceptable to the power brokers. file leaders of the Socialist Liberal Party- --the ta ne opposition created by Sadat to avoid the appeara ice of a single-party state?claims to have reached .igr, .e- merit with the NDP to "reserve" as many as 40 sats for his party in the coming Assembly; the N i supposed to accomplish this by fielding extreme! , weak candidates in certain districts. This estimat may be optimistic, but the government will presume b v do its hest to preserve a credible (and tractable) "os posi- flow" No other party is likely to make much of a sho ng against the NDP. The leader of the tiny righi-wi ng Socialist Liberal Party (the remnant of the oid r ghtist minbar, which became a party in 1976 but held ,nly two seats in the last Assembly) also claims to !inv.! been allocated 25 to 30 seats by the NDP, but his esti' late is probably unrealistic. The leftist National Progressive Unionist Grouping will field several candidai es, but the government will probably go all-out against - hem, possibly leaving Khalid Muhi al-Din as the cniy successful candidate. Assuming that the Nat ion Front is allowed to form, its candidates --which will probably include representatives of the Ward ar d the Muslim Brotherhood?will undoubtedly run int ) strong opposition from the NDP. Perhaps three ir four wii I prove successful, leaving Sadat with someth mg like four critics out of a total of 392. Conclusions Sadat has inaugurated impressive changes i=i E political life since he assumed power in Septein )er 1970. He has virtually eliminated the oppressiv?! atmosphere that predominated under Nasir Hi per- formance indicates that it is not in his nature to olidify his position by resorting to widespread imprisot ment, torture, or intimidation. Even potentially dangt rous opponents, like the Muslim Brotherhood, have ieen given a surprising degree of latitude to organizi and criticize the government. Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23: CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Egyptians enjoy a degree of freedom not found in neighboring Arab states, but Sadat is no democrat in the Western sense of the term. He sees himself as the father of his people, responsible, like a father, for maintaining discipline and inculcating mature, correct behavior. His "children" overstepped their bounds early in 1978, abusing the freedoms he had granted; very well, they had to be corrected. Sadat equates "democracy" with the freedom to pursue responsible policies, and sees no contradiction in the fact that he alone is given the right to define which policies are responsible. Given this approach, a freewheeling, no-holds-barred democracy is not likely in an Egypt ruled by Sadat. The only questions are where Sadat chooses to draw the lines?which opposition groups will be given a limited amount of free activity and which will be forced underground; whether the amount of freedom allowed will be enough to release popular pressures, give politically sophisticated Egyptians a feeling that they have some control over their political destiny, and avoid the kind of volcanic eruption that overtook Iran; or whether, conversely, the controls will prove so slack that Sadat will ultimately go down before a well- organized, broad-based opposition. Sadat is trying to give Egyptians a sense of possessing a political stake in the continuation of the existing regime- but without himself surrendering any meaningful power. The effort may prove impossible. So far, Sadat has walked the tightrope successfully. By retaining a legal leftist party he has given the left an outlet of sorts, but he is currently preventing publica- tion of the leftist newspaper?which proved danger- ously popular?and his crackdown in 1977 seems to have thoroughly disrupted the activities of the Egyp- tian Communist parties. His officially sanctioned opposition party is conservative?to the extent, admit- tedly marginal, that its policies differ from Sadat's own party?but he foreclosed a resurgence of the Wafd Party that might, in time, have grown large enough to threaten the Sadat regime. Sadat's decision to allow the Muslim Brotherhood a significant degree of freedom to operate may contain the seeds of future trouble. There are obvious parallels between the devout Muslim fundamentalism exhibited Secret by the Brotherhood in Egypt and the emotional following commanded by the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. There is, however, one difference that may prove critical?the Muslims in Egypt so far lack a single leader capable of focusing their energies toward political ends. Sadat, who is a deeply religious man himself, has a certain sympathy for the Brotherhood's point of view. Indications are that the Brotherhood does not reciprocate, regarding Sadat as a hypocrite who has in the past shown his willingness to trample on their convictions, but they at least seem to see Sadat as the best they are likely to get as things stand. Their repression under Nasir is still fresh in their minds, and they have shown no inclination, so far, to challenge the regime in ways that might threaten their current privileges. Should they do so, the likelihood is that Sadat would take strong action against them; he has already taken some preliminary measures intended to serve as a warning. Meanwhile, Sadat has evidently judged that a degree of legal activity is preferable to forcing the Brotherhood underground and perhaps encouraging its radicalization, along the lines of splinter groups like the Takfir. As always, Sadat's Achilles' heel is likely to be the economy?not the degree of political expression he allows. His vulnerability in this area is a fact of life and will probably prove irreversible in Sadat's lifetime. Egypt's economy is affected by factors only marginally within the control of the government?relations with Israel, relations with Saudi Arabia and other rich Arabs, relations with the United States. As Sadat's signing of the treaty with Israel?despite the breach with his Arab patrons?has demonstrated, Sadat is perfectly capable of ignoring Egypt's economic self- interest in pursuit of what he sees as more important goals. It has so far been a truism to say that Sadat's regime is stable as long as he has the Army solidly behind him. Unfortunately, we have little information concerning currents of opinion within the Army and the strength of possible opposition to Sadat's policies. Our belief is that the Army probably mirrors the attitudes and criticisms existing in society at large?that the degree of support for the Muslim Brotherhood is fairly strong; 18 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100hcat02-7 that any disaffection reaches its greatest pitch over economic issues; that the appeal of Marxist and Communist thinking is probably not widespread, particularly as compared with its appeal in student and intellectual circles. It would seem to follow, then? although the conclusion has to be tentative?that as long as Sadat keeps the economy from wreaking undue hardship on large groups and manages to restrain the more radical activity of the Muslim Brotherhood, his regime will be reasonably safe. One ominous develop- ment would be an alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's leftists; there are some indications that the left appreciates the enormous advantage such a linkage would give them, but the Brotherhood has so far refused to go along. Negotiations with Israel over the West Bank and Palestinian autonomy that failed to move Israel toward a solution acceptable to the Egyptians?a likely scenario over the coming year?could erode Egyptian support for the treaty with Israel and pose a new challenge to Sadat's liberalization program. A negoti- ating impasse would spark new activity on the part of both leftist and rightist groups, which would hope to capitalize on popular disaffection with Sadat's policies. Even the docile Assembly he will end up with after the June 1979 elections might be moved to protest. The regime's previous record suggests that such activity would be met with stern counteraction. Sadat would presumably use the familiar rationalization that his critics do not constitute a "responsible" opposition and thus forfeit their right to a democratic platform. There is little doubt that large numbers of Egyptians would welcome a greater degree of political democracy than they now possess, or than Sadat is likely to a tow. Their enthusiastic response to the early stages of Sadat's political liberalization made this clear- the dozens of minbars that were originally proposed,rne vitality of the leftist and rightist newspapers, the Lard- hitting debates in the Assembly. All of these channels of expression are currently closed, and although n e have little evidence of it, it is reasonable to suppose that sonic resentment exists?perhaps more than if thr wraps had never been lifted in the first place. Thee is no evidence, however, that resentment has reache a pitch that might threaten Sadat, or that revolution is likely to be launched with democracy as its goal Indi,:ations so far are that in the political realm, ai least, Egyptians compare their lot with that existi ig under Nasir and count themselves well ahead. Th:ir economic well-being is another matter. Here the r eace treaty with Israel has brought to the fore longstanding expectations. If they are dashed, leftist elements-- otherwise less appealing in the Egyptian milieu - Juld strike a dangerous response. The average Egyptian tends to give virtually automatic support to whoever is in power?a legacy of centuries of Pharonic rule. The bulk of the public will probably back Sadat in whatever he chooses to do, and as long as this remains true, Sadat can afford to retain a political system that allows a certain freedom of action and includes some democratic guarantees. The very fact that he pursues this course should enhance his popular- 25X1 ity and the stability of his regime. 19 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Secret Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 25X1 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7 Approved For Release 2003/10/23 : CIA-RDP80T00942A001100040002-7