Haraz Tree | Tree of Life by Abdou Demadash 1952-1953
The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 (Arabic: ثورة 23 يوليو 1952), also known as the 23 July Revolution, began on 23 July 1952, with a military coup d'état by the Free Officers Movement, a group of army officers led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser. The revolution was initially aimed at overthrowing King Farouk. However, the movement had more political ambitions, and soon moved to abolish the constitutional monarchy and aristocracy of Egypt and Sudan, establish a republic, end the British occupation of the country, and secure the independence of Sudan (hitherto governed as an Anglo-Egyptian condominium). The revolutionary government adopted a staunchly nationalist, anti-imperialist agenda, which came to be expressed chiefly through Arab nationalism, and international non-alignment.
The revolution was faced with threats from Western imperial powers, particularly the United Kingdom, which had occupied Egypt since 1882, and France, both of whom were wary of rising nationalist sentiment in territories under their control throughout the Arab World and Africa. The ongoing state of war with Israel also posed a serious challenge, as the Free Officers increased Egypt's already strong support of the Palestinians. These two issues conflated four years after the revolution when Egypt was invaded by Britain, France, and Israel in the Tripartite Aggression of 1956. Despite enormous military losses, the war was seen as a political victory for Egypt, especially as it left the Suez Canal in uncontested Egyptian control for the first time since 1875, erasing what was seen as a mark of national humiliation. This strengthened the appeal of the revolution in other Arab and African countries.
During the winter of 1951–1952 nationalist police officers backed by the United States and the Soviet Union began protecting and promoting fedayeen [the Egyptian resistance] attacks on British authorities in Cairo, Alexandria, and the Suez Canal. After repelling a particularly devastating attack on British shipping and facilities near Ismailia which resulted in the death of several British soldiers. British troops tracked the fedayeen into the city. On January 25, 1952, British troops discovered the fedayeen had retreated into the local police barracks. When the police refused to surrender the fedayeen, the British officer attempted to negotiate the surrender of the police and the fedayeen. When their negotiator was killed in the parley by the fedayeen, the British force attacked the Egyptian police barracks in Ismailia. Fifty Egyptian police officers were killed and one hundred were wounded. Egypt erupted in fury. Subsequently, Free Officer Movement cells initiated riots in Cairo which led to arsons. Without suppression from local fire brigades, these arson attacks further inflamed more rioting. American and Soviet newspapers promoted the incident on global wire outlets as the "Cairo Fires" and suggested they were seen as further evidence of the beginning of the end of the monarchy. The next day, January 26, 1952 ("Black Saturday"), what many Egyptians call "the second revolution" broke out (the first being the Egyptian Revolution of 1919).
King Farouk dismissed Mustafa el-Nahhas's government, and in the months that followed, three different politicians were instructed to form governments, each proving short-lived: Ali Maher (27 January – 1 March), Ahmed Naguib El-Hilali (2 March – 29 June, and 22–23 July) and Hussein Sirri (2–20 July). These "salvation ministries", as they were called, failed to halt the country's downward spiral. Corruption remained ubiquitous despite attempts by successive prime ministers to put their political houses in order. Stirrings of discontent were felt in the army, and in January 1952 opposition officers supported by the Free Officers gained control of the governing board of the Officers Club. On 16 July, the King annulled these elections, appointing his own supporters instead in an attempt to regain control of the army. A coup d'état was planned for 5 August, but when General Naguib, one of the Free Officers, informed the group on 19 July that the Egyptical Royal Army high command had a list of their names, the coup leaders acted on the night of 22 July.
On Wednesday morning, 23 July 1952, a military coup occurred in Egypt, carried out by The "Free Officers" and led by General Naguib, but the real power behind the military coup was Gamal Abdel Nasser. Aided by intelligence provided by the two super-powers and their own network, the Free Officers Movement targeted command, control, and communications posts of the Army and Internal Ministry. Several police sections that had been successfully penetrated aided in rounding up key personnel of the royal government.
At 7:30 a.m., the Egyptian populace heard a broadcast station issue the first communiqué of the revolution in the name of Gen. Naguib to the Egyptian people that stated the justification for the revolution or the Blessed Movement. The voice everyone heard reading the message belonged to Free Officer and future president of Egypt, Anwar El Sadat: The coup was conducted by less than a hundred officers - almost all drawn from junior ranks — and prompted scenes of celebration in the streets by cheering mobs.
["Egypt has passed through a critical period in her recent history characterized by bribery, mischief, and the absence of governmental stability. All of these were factors that had a large influence on the army. Those who accepted bribes and were thus influenced caused our defeat in the Palestine War . As for the period following the war, the mischief-making elements have been assisting one another, and traitors have been commanding the army. They appointed a commander who is either ignorant or corrupt. Egypt has reached the point, therefore, of having no army to defend it. Accordingly, we have undertaken to clean ourselves up and have appointed to command us men from within the army whom we trust in their ability, their character, and their patriotism. It is certain that all Egypt will meet this news with enthusiasm and will welcome it. As for those whose arrest we saw fit from among men formerly associated with the army, we will not deal harshly with them, but will release them at the appropriate time. I assure the Egyptian people that the entire army today has become capable of operating in the national interest and under the rule of the constitution apart from any interests of its own. I take this opportunity to request that the people never permit any traitors to take refuge in deeds of destruction or violence because these are not in the interest of Egypt. Should anyone behave in such ways, he will be dealt with forcefully in a manner such as has not been seen before and his deeds will meet immediately the reward for treason. The army will take charge with the assistance of the police. I assure our foreign brothers that their interests, their personal safety [lit. "their souls"], and their property are safe, and that the army considers itself responsible for them. May God grant us success [lit. "God is the guardian of success"].With his British support network now neutralized, King Farouk sought the intervention of the United States, which unsurprisingly would not respond. By the 25th, the army had occupied Alexandria, where the king was in residence at the Montaza Palace. Now plainly terrified, Farouk abandoned Montaza, and moved to Ras Al-Teen Palace on the waterfront. Naguib ordered the captain of Farouk's yacht, al-Mahrusa, not to sail without orders from the army.
Debate broke out among the Free Officers concerning the fate of the deposed king. While some (including Gen. Naguib and Nasser) viewed the best solution as to send him into exile, others argued the urge to put him on trial and even execute him for the "crimes he committed to the Egyptian people". Finally, the order came for Farouk to abdicate in favour of his son, Crown Prince Ahmed Fuad - who was acceded to the throne as King Fuad II - and a Regency Council was appointed. Departure into exile finally came on Saturday, July 26, 1952 and at 6 o'clock that evening, the king set sail for Italy with protection from the Egyptian army. On July 28, 1953, Muhammad Naguib became the first President of Egypt, which marked the beginning of modern Egyptian governance.