An introduction to the American Central Intelligence document about Egypt
A recently-issued 1967 document by the American Central Intelligence Agency titled "Egypt: Sadat's Domestic Position" suggests that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood received arms and financial support from the ex-Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
The report was released along with more than 250 previously classified CIA documents written between January 1967 and March 1979 during Anwar Sadat's presidency in Egypt.
The document suggests that the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in military and government institutions grew considerably due to the financial and arms support of Gaddafi, who supported the opposition's aims to "exploit the shortcomings of Sadat's regime."
The report also argues that Gaddafi sought to benefit from Egypt's isolation in the Arab world following its involvement in peace talks with Israel to play a leadership role in the region. In the report, the CIA describes Libya' strongman as the "avowed enemy of Sadat."
Attempting to "take up Nasser's pan-Arabic mantle," the CIA papers note that Gaddafi worked to facilitate regional alliances with others who rejected Sadat's reversal of his predecessor Gamal Abdel Nasser's Arab nationalist foreign policy orientation.
"Gaddafi's agents, rather than Cairo, now control many Lebanese Nasserists... and are doubtless encouraging subversion among both religious conservatives and disgruntled Egyptian Nasserists who are disheartened by the decline of Egypt's prestige in the Arab world", the CIA reports argue.
However, the papers reveal that the CIA expected Sadat would be capable of containing Nasserists in Egypt because they lacked "cohesive unity and leadership," despite their alliances with Libyan and Soviet "provocateurs."
The papers portray Egyptian society as conservative with powerful rightist elements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, that Nasser had been unable to suppress.
Sadat, on the other hand, the CIA documents reveal, endorsed this conservative rhetoric by encouraging Muslim leaders to carry out propaganda attacks on Egyptian leftists.
The reports primarily focused on the future of Sadat's regime, since they were written when US-mediated negotiations between Israel and Egypt prior to the finalization of the Camp David peace agreement in September 1978.
"The central role that Egypt plays in the process of achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East puts a premium on the continuing stability of Sadat's regime. On the surface, his government enjoys widespread domestic support, and his popularity remains high," the CIA files state.
However, they also note the financial dilemmas faced by Sadat's government as possible causes of domestic instability. These include: "inadequate economic growth, inflationary pressures on lower and middle income groups," and "more serious economic dislocation as economic liberalization gets underway."
But the weakness of Sadat's political opponents, who lacked the "broad appeal he enjoys," and the commitment of Egyptian security forces to control dissidence led the CIA reports to conclude that Sadat's fall was unlikely.
"Loyal followers control the Arab Socialist Union [Egypt's then-ruling party], and the People's Assembly, and we believe that the top echelon of the military establishment still support him, despite some misgivings about the effects of Sadat's policies on the capabilities of the armed forces," the CIA report explained.
"Of course, the possibility of assassination or physical collapse is always present. If anything should happen suddenly to Sadat, the stage could be set for radical and rapid change."