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Abdel Latif Boghdadi or Abd el-Latif el-Baghdadi (1917 - September 9, 1999) ( ) was an Egyptianmarker politician, senior air force officer, and judge. An original member of the Free Officers Movement which overthrew the monarchy in Egypt in the 1952 Revolution, Boghdadi later served as Gamal Abdel Nasser's vice president. The French author Jean Lacouture once called Boghdadi "a robust manager" who only lacked "stature comparable to Nasser's." The two leaders had a fallout over policy in 1964 and Boghdadi withdrew from political life, although he amended ties with Nasser before the latter's death in 1970.

Early life

Boghdadi was born in El Mansouramarker on 20 September 1917. He is known to have excelled at Egypt's military academy in 1938 and, later on, its air force academy. He rose to the rank of wing commander in the air force and was sent by the Egyptian government under Mustafa el-Nahhas to fight alongside the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) at the onset of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, prior to the arrival of the Egyptian Army.

Free Officers and the revolution

He later became one of the original ten members of the Free Officers Movement and during the 1952 revolution he commanded jet fighter units to circle Cairomarker to prevent possible outside interference in the coup against King Farouk. After the movement assumed power, Gamal Abdel Nasser—a principal leader of the coup and Prime Minister of Egypt—made Boghdadi chairman of a special court established to try members of the old regime, sentencing former general Sirri Amer and a Wafd party leader Fouad Sarrag Eddine, among others, to long-term imprisonments. Most sentences were commuted, however.

Boghdadi also became a member of the Egyptian Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). In 1953, he was appointed inspector-general of the revolution's first political organization, the Liberation Rally. To remove and replace Muhammad Naguib, the president of Egypt installed by the Free Officers, with Nasser, the latter replaced the defense minister, a pro-Naguib officer, with Boghdadi for a brief period from 1953 to 1954. When Naguib was removed in late 1954, Nasser was still prime minister and transferred Boghdadi to municipal affairs minister. During this time, he was responsible for the construction of the Nile Corniche road in Cairo, as well as the construction of many other new roads throughout the Egypt. For this reason Boghdadi was sometimes referred to sarcastically by his rivals as Abdel Rassif al-Boghdadi, rassif meaning "pavement" in Arabic.

Role in Suez Crisis

When Israeli forces backed by British and French fighter planes drove out Egyptian forces from the Sinai Peninsulamarker and the Suez Canalmarker—which had been nationalized—in 1956, commander of the Egyptian armed forces, Abdel Hakim Amer, panicked and suggested surrendering. Nasser refused and put Boghdadi in charge of organizing Egyptian resistance along the canal. After the Suez War, he was appointed general administrator for reconstruction of the canal area and according to author Said Aburish, "performed admirably." He was also made minister of communications and along with Zakaria Mohieddine and Amer, was placed on a committee that would screen the candidates of the newly established 350-member National Assembly. Boghdadi was elected as Speaker of the First National Assembly.

Resignation and aftermath

Boghdadi accompanied Nasser in his trip to Damascusmarker on February 24, 1958, after recently uniting Syriamarker and Egypt to form the United Arab Republic (UAR). His role in the new republic was, along with Amer, vice president of the Egypt province. In this period in the early 1960s, he held the additional post of planning minister. Shortly after the UAR's collapse, in 1962, Nasser adopted a more Soviet Unionmarker (USSR) style system for Egypt and Boghdadi was utterly opposed to the extensive socialist measures and the new system altogether. He declared resignation claiming Nasser's behavior was a loss of direction and preferred closer relations with the United Statesmarker (US), rather than the USSR. In 1963, Boghdadi warned and blamed Nasser about Amer—whose relationship to Nasser was always close, but eroding at the time—wiretapping his and Nasser's telephones.

He submitted his resignation again on May 16, 1964, after disagreeing with Nasser's decision to send Egyptian troops to North Yemenmarker to support his partisans in the civil war. He referred to the war as "Nasser's Vietnam." Boghdadi also wanted a more circumspect policy of "Egypt first." As a response to his resignation, Nasser put his brother Saad Boghdadi under house arrest and prevented his brother-in-law from traveling to the United Kingdommarker to complete his doctorate. Nasser also claimed Abdel Latif Boghdadi was implicated in illegal Muslim Brotherhood activities.

Later life and death

As a result of the fallout, Boghdadi withdrew from his political life. The rift between him and Nasser was reconciled before 1970 though. In his memoirs, Boghdadi states that Nasser had planned to appoint him as vice president immediately before his death in September 1970, in order to prevent Anwar el-Sadat's succession to power. According to Nasser's close associates, Nasser requested Boghdadi rejoin the government and become his second-in-command because he considered Sadat a liability. Due to Boghdadi's previous resignation concerning the close relationship to the USSR, he asked Nasser at first hand the nature of the new Egypt-Soviet informal alliance (which resulted after Egypt's decisive loss in the 1967 Six-Day War with Israelmarker). They both agreed that he visit the USSR alone to make sure there weren't any differences in perception of what the new relationship between the two countries meant. In 1972, Boghdadi and nine other Egyptians who had been prominent earlier in the government sent a note to Sadat, criticizing his government for "over-dependence on the Soviet Union." Boghdadi opposed Sadat's peace treaty with Israel in 1978, as did all the other then-living former RCC members.

On September 8, 1999, he was hospitalized for complications from liver cancer. He was pronounced dead at the age of 81 the next day. A state funeral for Boghdadi was held on September 10 in a Cairo suburb. The ceremonies were attended by Egypt's current president, Hosni Mubarak, and other high-ranking government figures. Mubarak issued a statement saying that Boghdadi had "served his country with devotion."

List of published works

  • Abdel Latif Boghdadi: Diaries. (1982). Cairo: el-Maktab al-Masri al-Hadith.


References

  1. All the revolution's men Al-Ahram Weekly. 2002-07-24.
  2. Pace, Eric. Abdel-Latif Baghdadi, 81, Partner in Egypt's 1952 Coup New York Times. 1999-01-11.


Bibliography




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