How did Gamal Nasser become the president of Egypt and what were his goals?
In 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser and the ‘free officers movement’ who had served in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 overthrew the colonial puppet King Farouk, as they saw him ‘as a scandalous, corrupt, out of touch king’. Nasser had three goals: ‘to make Egypt independent by ending British occupation; to build up Egyptian forces for a successful attack on Israel; to improve Egypt’s economy by constructing a high dam at Aswan to irrigate the Nile valley’. Nasser championed Arab socialism and pan-Arab unity, and in bringing Egypt out of colonialism and feudalism, he created an authoritarian and highly centralized economy. In 1962 the national charter was drawn up by Nasser and promoted, as well as establishing the basis of authority whereby the constitution was to follow. Nasser set out on implementing his doctrine of Arab socialism, and thus began the mass nationalization program and expanded the role of the state in the economy. Nasser had envisaged ‘a kind of humanitarian socialist order in which all the major means of production were owned or controlled by the state’. This was much to the dismay of the US policymakers in the 50s and 60s, as they saw him as increasingly unreliable as he allied with the Soviet Union in the US-dominated MENA.