Newly-released CIA profile of Sadat praises 'realist' president

Ahram Online , Friday 15 Nov 2013

According to the report, the former president considered Egyptians to be superior to other Arabs

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, left, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, center, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, stand at attention as the national anthems of their respective countries are played on the north lawn of the White House in Washington,Monday, Feb. 24, 1979 (Photo: AP)

The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) this week released more than 250 previously classified documents concerning the US-mediated negotiations between Egypt and Israel that led to a peace treaty between the two countries in 1979.

The 1,400 pages tackle the diplomatic efforts of former US President Jimmy Carter's administration to finalise the peace deal, from the period of January 1977 to March 1979.

"The declassified documents detail diplomatic developments from the Arab peace offensive and President Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem through the region-wide aftermath of Camp David," the CIA said on its website.

Among the papers is a short file analysing former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's personal characteristics and leadership style.

The report states that Sadat initially had "neither the strength nor the political astuteness to be successful" when he reached the presidency in 1970 following the death of his predecessor Gamal Abdel-Nasser, describing him as a "former revolutionary and ardent nationalist who rose from peasant origins." The document states that Sadat had pride in his peasant background.

The profile also contains praise for Sadat's moderation as a leader and pragmatic politician.

He is known for "his realism, political acumen and capacity for surprising, courageous and dramatic decisions," reads the document.

Sadat was perceived as a "deeply religious man" and his wife, Jihan, as an "elegant, graceful woman."

"He speaks good English, but does not always pick up nuances or follow complex reasoning", the profile stated.

According to the document, Sadat "believes that Egyptians are superior to other Arabs." 

On politics

The leader sought to give an impression of himself as a leader who had improved the socio-economic conditions of his people.  

But the report also says that Sadat was less competent at, and less interested in, economic affairs than other domestic issues or foreign policy.

The document posits Sadat as a leader who enjoys full control over the decision-making process, continuing to seek a peace settlement with Israel with remarkable self-confidence and optimism, despite the possibility of failure.

"Senior foreign affairs advisers are not always certain what the president has in mind, and they must refer major decisions to Sadat personally," the report stated.

CIA Documents

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