GAMAL ABDEL NASSER:A Political Testimony
 
 

On 23 July 1970, Gamel Abdel Nasser addressed the 4th National Congress of the Arab Socialist Union in Cairo. It was to be his last official speech, and can be read as his political testament, in which he clearly sets out the course for Egypt to follow - a course the spirit of which he defined in his interview for the New York Times in March 1969: "As you know, we have not been able to realise all our dreams during the last 17 years because of a variety of problems: the occupation, the 1967 aggression, etc. My dream above all is the development of the country, electricity in the villages and work for everybody. I have no personal dream. I have no personal life. There is nothing personal about me."

Political Testament: The Struggle for the Renaissance

On this memorable day, the anniversary of the 23 July revolution, after 18 years of that revolution, we must pause to consider two distinct lines in the UAR {United Arab Republic} if we are to understand the essence, the objectives and the forces which have animated our struggle. The first line is to the south, on the Nile; I refer to the High Dam, construction of which was completed today. The other line is to the north, along the Suez canal.
It is the battlefront on which the Egyptian people and the national army are engaged in the noblest and most violent of conflicts. To the south, on the Nile, there rises the High Dam and the giant power station whose twelfth and last turbine began turning today, thereby signalling the completion of one of the biggest electric power stations in the world.

By now, 836,000 feddans of low lying land have been fully irrigated; a further 850,000 feddans have been improved and added to our arable land area. Improvement work proceeds apace. 10,000 million kWh have been added to national grid. There are now 500 kWh per head, whereas in 1952, the figure was barely 40 kWh.

On the green line, to the north, along the Suez canal, the Egyptian army is fighting. Every day Egyptian youth is giving a fine example of military and national honour.

The Egyptian army, its officers and its commanders, have deployed extraordinary efforts to reconstitute themselves, in circumstances that were amongst the most difficult our national struggle has faced. This army, which the enemy thought finished for decades, has managed to take up the combat again with a rapidity which impartial historians of this period will consider truly miraculous.

The sincere co-operation of the USSR, which was one of the key factors in the construction of the High Dam, has provided the army with the equipment and experts necessary to its reconstitution.

The endless efforts deployed by hundreds of thousands of our men and young people who have had the honour of serving in the army in the critical phase has enabled us to achieve a level of combat readiness that neither our friends nor our foes would have envisaged three years ago. The Egyptian Army is today engaged in a battle of special importance, the battle against Israeli air superiority made possible by US assistance following the 1967 aggression. The enemy wanted the Egyptian front to remain open so that his aerial superiority could be used freely. Everyday the enemy carries out raids that last for several hours. Enemy planes fly over our positions and on some day s drop up to a thousand tons of explosives, costing nearly a million pounds sterling. The enemy has concentrated his offensive on our anti-aircraft defences, so as to prevent their fulfilling their role to the front.

But the enemy has not succeeded... Between the lines across the Nile, at Aswan, and the green line to the north, along the Suez canal, the entire Egyptian nation is resisting, confident, sincere and convinced of attaining its goal. That is the domestic front....

The value of agricultural production increased by 15% between 1967 and 1969. Exports of agricultural products over the same period grew by 40%, despite the war....

These are only some aspects of the agricultural activity of our peasants, who form the great working potential of this country and the fundamental pillar of the popular working forces. These figures are far from the whole story, but I felt they are worth quoting, since our enemy's press media and those of their supporters claim that while we may have resisted militarily, our economy is collapsing.

I want to stress, to you and to the whole Arab nation, that when the Egyptian people decided to resist, in 1967, it also decided to work. Production has increased in every sector, in agriculture and everywhere else. If we turn to industry and to the workers who form the other part of the popular working forces, the picture that emerges against the backdrop of war and danger is just as splendid and honourable.

In 1966-67, the value of industrial production was E1,077, 678,000, and represented no substantial increase over the previous financial year. In 1967-68 it reached E1,169,419,000, an increase of E91,801,000, or 8.5%. In 1968-69 the value of industrial production rose to E1,322,698,000, an increase of E345,800,000 or 22.8%. In 1969-70, it rose to E1,424,987,000, an increase of E344,639,000 or 32%.

These increases are increases in real production, that is, they exclude any price rises. The increases have been quantitive and effective; they have been achieved not only despite danger and war conditions, but also at a time when one of our most important pre-war industrial regions, the canal zone, has been seriously affected. The phenomenon is particularly notable in that our industrial exports have grown by 63% in wartime, from E82 million in 1966-67 to E134 million in 1969-70.

The Egyptian people have not stood alone facing war, danger and terror during this admirable and historic period. The entire Arab nation has been beside them, fulfilling its role in the struggle while recognizing its right to assume the greater part of the costs of the battle for the future.
Above all there were the masses, confident in the knowledge that the freedom of the Arab nation was the only objective, and victory for that freedom the only requirement. The Arab masses were aware of every step taken; they rejected all attempts to divert them and remained faithfully committed to their own fundamental freedom. In the first and last resort, this cause, this freedom, this imperative need for victory belongs to them.

The Arab masses have been exposed to psychological warfare in which the enemy has used the most modern methods, great intelligence and much duplicity. But the Arab masses have not succumbed to this psychological warfare. They have attentively followed each stage of the military confrontation and have refused to be tricked by the phoney solicitude of their enemies.

The masses proved capable of distinguishing the windbags and word merchants from those who face death on the battlefield. The masses realised the decisive importance of military action and the full need for political action. They realise that although the objective was clear and unambiguous, the movement pursuing it needed complete freedom of action to cope with a highly mobile enemy, a world preoccupied by the Middle East conflict and an international force comprising both friends and enemies.

The Arab masses did not simply observe all this passively; they did everything they could to help while they awaited results....

The Palestinian resistance made its presence felt and managed to transform the Palestinian people from a refugee people into a warrior people. The Palestinian action made its mark throughout the world, and the Al-Fatah organisation which launched the action, accepting martyrdom in the service of the liberation of the Palestinian people, has won massive support in the Arab world. The resistance organisations have now managed to agree that a united central committee will in future co-ordinate their actions and objectives.

For my part, I believe that the enemy will seek to sow discord amongst the resistance fighters and amongst all the children of Palestine. But until now, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance have had sufficient maturity to foil all the plots of the imperialists and their agents.... Our Arab nation's struggle did not and could not proceed separately from the rest of the world. We have friends abroad, and so does our enemy. If we recall the course of events since 1967 it is easy to pick out those who have been our friends and those who have been Israel's.

When we remember the friends who stood by us in the dark days of 1967, the first, the foremost, the one to who we owe the deepest gratitude is undoubtedly the Soviet Union, whose leaders, Brezhnev, Kosygin and Podgorny sent me a message telling me not to despair, that the USSR would help us in every way and would supply us with arms to replace those lost in the battles in the Sinai. That was the cornerstone of the reconstruction of our armed forces. The arms from the USSR arrived immediately.

Everybody in the West, in the United States and in Israel insisted that we were finished and that nothing could be expected of our armed forces following the June defeat. Some Israeli leaders declared at the time that they were awaiting phone calls from Cairo or Damascus suing for surrender and asking for the terms of capitulation.

The Egyptian people, all the peoples of the Arab nation, decided not to accept defeat. But we needed arms for our forces. So when we say we are deeply grateful to the USSR, it is because we remember that in spite of our enemies' hopes and declarations, the Soviet Union delivered planes, tanks, cannons and arms to us within days of the defeat. In return, we offered the hope that we would resist and, with God's help, triumph..., that we would build first a defensive army, then an offensive army which would enable us to liberate the territories usurped from us.

The Soviet Union has also given us political support, both in the United Nations and in the international domain, whereas the United States has helped Israel to remain in the occupied territories....

We must ask ourselves 'What does our enemy want?' It is clear from the Israeli leaders' declarations since 1967 that to this day our enemy still seeks to expand, and thus has no intention of abiding by the Security Council's resolution....

Some Israeli leaders have announced that Israel's frontiers are the Nile and the Euphrates and that the true map of Israel is the one drawn up over 70 years ago by Herzl. That map begins at the Damietta fork and stretches into Iraq, encompasses large areas of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. That is what our enemy wants.

>From 1967 till today, the word withdrawal has not crossed our enemy's lips. When the Israeli leaders answer questions in vague terms rather than speak of withdrawal, they mention the redeployment of Israeli forces.... All this shows that Israel seeks to expand at the expense of the Palestinian people and of the Arab peoples as a whole. That is its nature and we must not lose sight of it in this phase of our struggle marked by open battle over the Suez canal front.

Our enemy brings down upon us the hostility of the United States; the American leaders are on Israel's side and supply it with everything it asks for in the way of electronic equipment and military material, so as to prevent us from defending our territory and our children against Israeli raids. Our enemy co-operates with the United States and the United States co-operates totally with Israel....

In fact, a new kind of warfare is being waged for the first time in history: electronic warfare. People say that Israel enjoys technological superiority and that is why it won in 1967. But that is just a way of camouflaging the extent of American collusion at the time. Up until 1967, Israel had obtained from the United States all the electronic warfare equipment needed to paralyse and locate our radar installations and rocket bases, to jam our telecommunications, etc. At the time the newspapers claimed that all this was due to Israeli skill and technology, but it later emerged that all the equipment had been sipped to Israel from the United States.

War today is bitter and complicated, but our armed forces have managed to cope with electronic warfare and resist, despite all the United States' assistance [to our enemy]. We too need the kind of advanced electronic warfare materials that Israel receives, yet we cannot manufacture it ourselves. It is because of such electronic equipment, delivered secretly to Israel by the United States, that our enemy was able to achieve a rapid victory during the Six Day war....

But despite all this assistance, despite Israel's announcements that it would do everything in its power to break any concentration of Egyptian soldiers and to prevent them from preparing for the crossing of the Suez canal, the training of our troops continues. Egyptian troop concentrations remain in place and the morale of our troops at the front is very high. During my last visit to the front, I spoke to soldiers standing beside the trenches while the enemy was bombarding our positions. The officers asked me 'When will we cross into the territory occupied by Israel?'
We have managed to resist and to reconstitute our armed forces. We have mobilised all of our potential for the battle, for our great hope of defeating an enemy who understands only the language of force....
Our territories are occupied. Our country is exposed to air raids. We must obtain everything that can help us defend our rights. We are standing up to the Israeli occupation and we know that our fate will be played out on the battlefield. The American press affirms daily that Egypt is preparing to invade Israel by crossing the Suez canal. Our enemies use the term 'invasion' to mislead their own people, who are unaware that Sinai is part of Egypt; they claim that they give Israel arms because it is threatened with invasion. But we are not an aggressive force, we are an energy of liberation, the liberation of our own land. Everybody should understand that: all the parties (to this conflict) and every nation. We simply proclaim and affirm this nation's determination not to cede its territory. No one has the right to force us to do so.

We are working toward the liberation of the occupied territories and we are not prepared to relinquish an inch of them. We proclaim high and loud that this nation will defend its legitimate rights to the very end. Everybody should understand what we mean....

This nation, as I have said, will not give up one inch of its territory; it will not give up its rights, however many weapons and electronics America pours into our enemy's arsenal. Our nation is not embarking upon either aggression or invasion; we are simply demanding the return of our occupied territories and the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people - the rights that Israel has usurped. This should be clear to everybody; the consequences are serious.
 

"I have realised from the very beginning that our success had to depend on our complete understanding of the nature of our national history in which we had lived."

President Gamel Abdel Nasser
On 23 July 1970