Monday 3 December 2012

History in Focus: The Austro-Hungarian Empire

Well, it's been a while since we had a maps/photo-only post so here it goes!

In case you don't know, the Austro-Hungarian empire was a constitutional monarchist union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in Central Europe. The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, under which the House of Habsburg agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them.

The Austrian and the Hungarian lands became independent entities enjoying equal status. Austria-Hungary was a multinational realm and one of the world's great powers at the time. The dual monarchy existed for 51 years until it dissolved on 31 October 1918 at end of World War I. Three decades after its dissolution, most of former Austria-Hungary became part of the Soviet Union or the East Bloc countries.

Extremely detailed Ethnic, Transport, and Physical map of the Austrian Empire from 1855
The realm comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, large parts of Serbia and Romania and smaller parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine.

Austrian troops marching up Mt. Zion, Jerusalem, 1916
Austro-Hungarian WW1 POW's in Russia, 1915
Pavilion of the Austro-hungarian Llyod at the world's fair, Vienna, 1873
1892 protests in Bucharest for equal rights for Romanians in Austria-Hungary-ruled Transylvania
Emperor Franz Joseph and Archduke Franz Ferdinand, 1908.
 Austrian officers and a dog
Autro-Hungarian dragoons
Abbazia in 1911
Thousands more photos are present on Flickr. I highly recommend it.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Matam al Ajam al Kabeer - A short history

 Since it is the month of Muharram over here in Bahrain, the processions of Muharram are ongoing. For those who are not aware, Muharram is a month of mourning for Muslims of the Shia sect, and commemorates the death of Imam Hussain.

These processions have quite a history in Bahrain, occurring annually for the past centuries. These processions are organised by matams (or husseinya, as they are sometimes called), which are congregation halls. At least one matam exists in each village in the country, and these matams are numerous, especially in the old districts of Manama. The primary focus of this post is on a particular matam; Matam Al Ajam al-Kabeer.

(I wrote this part on Wikipedia already)

 The Matam:

Matam Al-Ajam Al-Kabeer (Arabic:مأتم العجم الكبير) is the first Ajam (who are Persians in Bahrain) matam in Bahrain. The matam was founded in the Fareej el-Makharqa by Abdul Nabi Al Kazerooni, a rich Persian merchant. Himself an immigrant from the Dashti region of Iran, he organised processions, collected donations and hired orators (Arabic: خطيب‎) to speak at the matam.

Construction started in 1882 as a specialized building where Ashura, a holy day in Shia Islam, would be marked with processions, ceremonial flagellation and passion plays commemorating the death of Imam Hussain.
Exterior of the matam
The matam is still used for this purpose.  It was originally built with simple construction material such as palm tree trunks and leaf stalks. The matam was formally established in 1904 where it was decided that the matam would be renovated with rocks, clay and cement. Initially in the 1890s, the matam was primarily supported by Persian merchants, with two-thirds of the donation coming from the Bushehri and Safar family, respectively.

 For much of the 20th century, the matam had relied on yearly donations of money and land from rich and poor members of the Persian community and from waqf revenue.The matam also had an emergency relief fund that was to be distributed to the poor and to needy individuals; the matam provided financial aid and shelter to people following the collapse of the pearling market in the 1930s.

Upon the death of Abdul Nabi Al Kazerooni in 1927, Abdul Nabi Bushehri, himself a Persian immigrant from Bushehr and a well-respected figure in the Persian community, took control of the matam. Unlike Kazerooni, Bushehri ran the matam with other notables of the Persian community, forming a de facto board.

Upon Bushehri's death in 1945, the board took over. In order to prevent confusion, the board appointed Hasan Baljik, himself a member, as the budget and procession organiser. In 1971, an administrative board consisting of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and others was set up, all of whom were rich merchants. By 1952, the matam was supported by the rent of 3 houses, 6 shops and a hawla.
The interior of Matam al Ajam al Kabeer, in 2008

For further reading, I strongly recommend reading Mapping the Transnational Community: Persians and the Space of the City in Bahrain, c. 1869-1937, by Nelida Fuccaro. It provides an excellent overview and is one of the scarce resources available on this topic. And Khuri's Tribe and State in Bahrain.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

A Brief History of the Great Syrian Revolt (1925-1927)

Foreword: This is just a brief outline of the Great Syrian Revolt (sometimes termed as The Great Druze Revolt) so there are bound to be stuff missing, since this is a summary!
Military band marking the proclamation of Faisal as the King of Syria

As you might already know, after the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was divided between France and the United Kingdom. UK got Iraq, Jordan and the Palestine region while France got the Levantine region, consisting of Lebanon and Syria.

So why the revolt?

Now, the problem was that the Arabs fought on the British side during The Great War and wanted to establish their own state in the region of Syria (and beyond). So, in March 1920 (under King Faisal of the Hashemites), the Kingdom of Syria was proclaimed. The French were not amused and 4 months later, the Kingdom of Syria fell when the French invaded and occupied Damascus.

The years that followed 1920 were hardly peaceful, bastions of resistance towards the French sprung up across the country but they lacked centrality or unity. It was usually a single ethnic group with limited coordination with other factions. Alawites, Druze, Bedouins, Sunnis all individually attempted to revolt against the French in the following five years after 1920. Though the French had control of the urban areas (with the aid of the social elite) of Damascus, Aleppo and others, very little evidence of a French presence existed in the villages.
Damascus in flames, circa 1925.

In 1925, another open revolt emerged in Syria. What makes this one different from previous attempts was the presence of multiple factions (Alawites, Druze, Sunnis etc.) in a de-facto alliance. I use "de-facto" because, like previous revolts, no centrally-coordination was present.

The revolt was initiated by the Druze leader and Syrian nationalist Sultan al-Atrash issuing a call to arms and resistance against the French. The revolt was successful in its initial stages and lead to the capture of Druze-majority cities in the south of Syria (see here), owing to the minimal presence of French soldiers (there were 14,397 soldiers in Syria in 1925, compared to 70,000 in 1920). The French countered this by deploying thousands of soldiers from its colonies, with weapons superior to those of the Syrian rebels.
Sultan al-Atrash and soldiers at Hauran

The revolt was not put down until the spring of 1927, after the French had retaken all the major cities of Syria. The uprising led to the French government to conclude that direct rule over Syria was too costly, owing to the transport and supply of soldiers. A year after the uprising, France declared an amnesty to the Syrian rebels but proclaimed that Sultan al-Atrash and other leaders of the rebellion would be exiled.

This was not a problem.The French sentenced Sultan al-Atrash and other national leaders to death, but al-Atrash escaped with the rebels to Transjordan and was eventually pardoned. In 1937, after the signing of the Franco-Syrian Treaty, he returned to Syria where he was met with a huge public reception.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Women in History: A Gallery

Continuing with the theme of women's history, often a-times, I believed that the best way of portraying a situation was through photos and pictures. Better yet through videos too. Below are photos taken from all aspects of history, showcasing women's role in history.

A women's march in Kabul, Afghanistan, in the early 1980s.

 Elin Wägner (Swedish writer, journalist, feminist, teacher, ecologist and pacifist)  standing next to 351,454 signatures demanding women get the right to vote in Sweden. Photo taken in 1914.

Women Suffragists picketing the White House in 1917 
Christian woman of Zahleh (middle) and two Christian women of Zgharta, Lebanon - 1873.
Native American women with their children visit the USS Bear, Bering Sea. Circa 1900.
Group of Bedouin women and children in Palestine region, ca.1890s.
A Palestinian women begs for her husband's life as Phalangist militiamen attack La Quarantaine refugee camp. Lebanon circa. 1976.
Canadian Women's Army Corps in 1944 (That smile!).
Women in marksmanship training in America, 1942.
Women's archery 1908 Olympics in London (though I wonder why they're aiming 180 degrees away from the target).
With all the men at the Front, Moscovian women dig anti-tank trenches around Moscow in 1941.
A photo from AP in German-occupied France: A women of the resistance movement, who is a member of a patrol to rout out the Germans snipers still left in areas in Paris, France, on August 29, 1944. The girl had killed two Germans in the Paris Fighting two days previously. 
 Egyptian Jewish girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvah in Alexandria, Egypt. Photo definitely taken prior to 1967.
Female Irish Republican Army (IRA) members frisk a British man, in Belfast, 1972.
Korean girls playing Nol-Ttwigi (Korean See-saw) in old Chosŏn, Korea, 1890s.
  An Iranian student at a vocational training school for seamstresses studies the theoretical aspects of her work. This is one of the first schools for girls founded by the government in Tehran, 1952.
 In the jungles of El Salvador, a young girl with the left wing FMLN guerrilla movement, starts another day of brutal civil war. Circa 1983

Friday 12 October 2012

Women in History - The Story of Jeanne Geneviève Labrosse

The parachute patent, made by Jeanne's husband, Andre Gamerin
Jeanne Geneviève Labrosse was a French woman who lived from 1775 to 1847. Why is she important, you might ask? She was the first woman to jump from a balloon with a parachute, from an altitude of 900 meters.

Why on earth would she jump? Well, she did marry André-Jacques Garnerin, a hydrogen balloonist and inventor of the frameless parachute!

Though she started flying on a balloon on her own in 1798, she is most famous for being, on October 12, 1799, the first woman to make a parachute descent (in the gondola), from an altitude of 900 meters.

She was one of the earliest women to fly in a balloon but keep in mind, she wasn't the first; Élisabeth Thible had made a free flight in 1784, and Citoyenne Henri had flown with Garnerin on July 8, 1798, four months earlier to Jeanne's attempt in 1798.

On October 11, 1802, she filed a patent application on behalf of her husband for:
"a device called a parachute, intended to slow the fall of the basket after the balloon bursts. Its vital organs are a cap of cloth supporting the basket and a circle of wood beneath and outside of the parachute and used to hold it open while climbing: it must perform its task at the moment of separation from the balloon, by maintaining a column of air."

Thursday 4 October 2012

Women in History: Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a Polish-born physicist and chemist and one of the most famous scientists of her time. Together with her husband Pierre, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1903, and she went on to win another in 1911.

Early Life:

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw in modern-day Poland on Nov. 7, 1867. Her parents were borth teachers, and she was the youngest of five children. As a child Curie took after her father, Ladislas, a math and physics instructor. She had a bright and curious mind and excelled at school. But tragedy struck early, and when she was only 11, Curie lost her mother, Bronsitwa, to tuberculosis.

A top student in her secondary school, Curie could not attend the men-only University of Warsaw. She instead continued her education in Warsaw's "floating university," a set of underground, informal classes held in secret. Both Curie and her sister Bronya dreamed of going abroad to earn an official degree, but they lacked the financial resources to pay for more schooling. Undeterred, Curie worked out a deal with her sister. She would work to support Bronya while she was in school and Bronya would return the favor after she completed her studies.

For roughly five years, Curie worked as a tutor and a governess. She used her spare time to study, reading about physics, chemistry and math. In 1891, Curie finally made her way to Paris where she enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris. She threw herself into her studies, but this dedication had a personal cost. With little money, Curie survived on buttered bread and tea, and her health sometimes suffered because of her poor diet.

Curie completed her master's degree in physics in 1893 and earned another degree in mathematics the following year. Around this time, she received a commission to do a study on different types of steel and their magnetic properties. Curie needed a lab to work in, and a colleague introduced her to French physicist Pierre Curie. A romance developed between the brilliant pair, and they became a scientific dynamic duo.

Scientific research:

The Curies worked together investigating radioactivity, building on the work of the German physicist Roentgen and the French physicist Becquerel. In July 1898, the Curies announced the discovery of a new chemical element, polonium. At the end of the year, they announced the discovery of another, radium. The Curies, along with Becquerel, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903.

Pierre, Irene and Marie Curie
Pierre's life was cut short in 1906 when he was knocked down and killed by a carriage. Marie took over his teaching post, becoming the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne, and devoted herself to continuing the work that they had begun together. She received a second Nobel Prize, for Chemistry, in 1911.

The Curie's research was crucial in the development of x-rays in surgery. During World War One Curie helped to equip ambulances with x-ray equipment, which she herself drove to the front lines. The International Red Cross made her head of its radiological service and she held training courses for medical orderlies and doctors in the new techniques.

Despite her success, Marie continued to face great opposition from male scientists in France, and she never received significant financial benefits from her work. By the late 1920s her health was beginning to deteriorate. She died on 4 July 1934 from leukaemia, caused by exposure to high-energy radiation from her research. The Curies' eldest daughter Irene was herself a scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Women in History: My Thoughts

A caring mother, a smart sister, a gorgeous wife, a loving daughter – Ask a man a hundred years ago what they thought a woman is and that’s likely the answer you’d get. What about history? Let’s put aside all these Lords and Misters for a minute and examine the real unsung heroes of history. In my humble opinion, women do not get the credit they deserve and (to put it quite eloquently) that is completely unacceptable, whether by today’s standards or then. Because of this rather Draconian practice of snubbing women from the pages of history, I thought that it would’ve been a good (ish) idea to launch a ‘Women’s History Month’ (yes, I know that’s in March) to coincide with InternationalBreast Cancer Awareness Month.  

Why? Because, if a woman was capable ofsaving France from an English conquest, if a woman could lay the foundation of a golden age in her country (the likes of which have never been seen again), then surely, I know women are more than tough enough to stand up and beat cancer to a pulp.

So what have women done in history, then?

Where do I start? It would be near suicide if I had to list it all purely because it would be near-infinite.  History has shown us time and time again that women are just as good as men and sometimes are (unsurprisingly) better than us! We need only to look at the Golden Ages under the reign of Catherine the Great of Russia in the late 18th century and of Queen Elizabeth I of England. From Cleopatra, the iconic pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt to Margaret Thatcher (try not to cringe), first and only British Prime Minister; history once again proves that women can rule just as well as men do (isn’t that called marriage?)

Alright, what about brains?

You’re joking! Female inventors have contributed so much to modern day life –Think back to Marie Curie at the turn of the 20th century. The “Mother of Modern Physics", she was a pioneer in research about radioactivity (a word she coined) and was the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in research science in Europe as well as the first female professor at the Sorbonne. She is famous for discovering and isolating polonium and radium, and established the nature of radiation and beta rays (so say thank you, physics students!) .

Bear in mind that was just one woman, women have also invented the vacuum ice cream freezer, computer’s compilers (and the “Mark” Computer series) and COBOL. Well actually, only two women made the stuff I just listed. There are literally thousands upon thousands of inventors, and this could all fit in a good 27-part volume series.

To conclude, I’d like to once again state that the fact that women are snubbed from the pages of history books (and restricted to concubines) is simply crap. These are the unsung heroes of history, every great man in history, from Alexander the Great to Ivan the Terrible, would be (literally) nothing without women. This post is dedicated to the brave women of the world, the true heroes.

Saturday 29 September 2012

Explain To Me: The Thousand Yard Stare

The painting
Chances are that, if you read about wars and the effect it has on soldiers, you may have inadvertently seen the "Thousand Yard Stare". The first sign of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in many cases, it defined as "a vacant or unfocused gaze into the distance, seen as characteristic of a war-weary or traumatized soldier", by Oxford dictionaries

The origin of the phrase comes from Time magazine's publishing a painting titled "Marines Call It That 2,000 Yard Stare", made by World War II artist and correspondent Tom Lea, although it was not explicitly called that. The painting is a 1944 portrait of a Marine at the Battle of Peleliu in Palau (Pacific theater). About the real-life Marine who was his subject, Lea said:
He left the States 31 months ago. He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases. He half-sleeps at night and gouges Japs out of holes all day. Two-thirds of his company has been killed or wounded. He will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?
Prolonged exposure to battle causes the thousand yard stare. You can imagine that it was quite common during the Second World War, Vietnam (and practically any war, to be quite honest). It need not be confined simply to war.

Thousand yard stare from a 9/11 firefighter (from The Online Photographer)
While we're on this topic, it should be clarified that the 1984 photo of Sharbat Gula (popularly coined as the "Afghan Girl"), who obtained international notability for a photo depicting her in a  refugee camp in Pakistan after she was orphaned, is generally considered to not portray the stare. But it is still one of the most defining images of the 20th century.
More information here

If you're keen on reading more about it:

Monday 17 September 2012

Gamal Abdel Nasser: History Figure of the Month (September 2012)

Gamal Abdel Nasser
Who was Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein? A colonel in the Egyptian army in the early 20th century.

Why is he notable? Because he led the 1952 Egyptian Revolution that overthrew the Muhammed Ali (not the boxer!) dynasty and by doing so, drastically changed the Middle Eastern political scene forever.

He was an Arab Nationalist and believed in Pan-Arabism (that is, the unification of Arab states into a single country). During his terms in office, he oversaw the outbreak of the Suez Crisis, the Six-Day war and the "War of Attrition".

He co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement (group of states which are not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc) alongside Yugoslavia's Tito Indonesia's Sukarno, Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and India's Jawaharlal Nehru.

He was also the president of the short-lived United Arab Republic (a union with Syria that lasted from 1958-1961).

Life, the Revolution and Egyptian Presidency:

Gamar Abdel Nasser was born in Bakos, Alexandria, Egypt, on the 15th of January, 1918. He was educated at the Cairo Military Academy and eventually became an instructor at the institution. During the Second World War Nasser developed republican views. He secretly recruited cadets and young officers into what became known as the Free Officers Movement.
Egypt's first president, Najeeb (l) next to Nasser (dated 1950)

The failed 1948 Palestine campaign reinforced Nasser's view that the government of King Farouk I was inefficient and corrupt. In 1952 General Mohammed Najeeb and Colonel Nasser forced Farouk to abdicate. After the Egyptian Revolution Najeeb became commander-in-chief, prime minister and president of the republic whereas Nasser held the post of Minister of the Interior.  In April 1954 Nasser replaced Najeeb as prime minister. Seven months later he also became president of Egypt.

Over the next few months Nasser made it clear he was in favour of liberating Palestine from the Israelis. He also began buying fighter aircraft, bombers and tanks from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.  Nasser redistributed land in Egypt and began plans to industrialize the country. He also began the building of the Aswan Dam. Nasser was convinced that this would extend arable lands in Egypt and would help the industrialization process. He also advocated Arab independence and reminded the British government that the agreement allowing to keep soldiers at Suez expired in 1956.

The Suez Crisis

President Dwight Eisenhower became concerned about the close relationship developing between Egypt and the Soviet Union.

In July 1956 Eisenhower cancelled a promised grant of 56 million dollars towards the building of the Aswan Dam. Nasser was furious and on 26th July he announced he intended to nationalize the Suez Canal.

The shareowners, the majority of whom were from Britain and France, were promised compensation. Nasser argued that the revenues from the Suez Canal would help to finance the Aswan Dam.  Anthony Eden, the British prime minister, feared that Nasser intended to form an Arab Alliance that would cut off oil supplies to Europe. Secret negotiations took place between Britain, France and Israel and it was agreed to make a joint attack on Egypt.

On 29th October 1956, the Israeli Army invaded Egypt. Two days later British and French bombed Egyptian airfields. British and French troops landed at Port Said at the northern end of the Suez Canal on 5th November. By this time the Israelis had captured the Sinai peninsula.

Location of the Suez Canal
President Dwight Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, grew increasingly concerned about these developments and at the United Nations the representatives from the United States and the Soviet Union demanded a cease-fire. When it was clear the rest of the world were opposed to the attack on Egypt, and on the 7th November the governments of Britain, France and Israel agreed to withdraw. They were then replaced by UN troops who policed the Egyptian frontier.  Nasser now blocked the Suez Canal.

The United Arab Republic:

 He also used his new status to urge Arab nations to reduce oil exports to Western Europe. As a result petrol rationing had to be introduced in several countries and two months after the invasion Anthony Eden resigned from office.  Nasser was now acknowledged as leader of the Arab world. Egypt now joined with Syria to form the United Arab Republic.

Despite the economic difficulties, what truly produced the demise of the UAR was Nasser's inability to find a suitable political system for the new regime. Given his socialist agenda in Egypt, the Ba'ath should have been his natural ally, but Nasser was hesitant to share power. Though Amer allowed some liberalization of the economy in order to appease Syrian businessmen, his decision to rig the elections of the National Union (the single party which replaced the Ba'ath), with the help of Colonel Abdul Hamid Sarraj (a Syrian army official and Nasser sympathizer), sent Ba'ath leaders into a frenzy. The Ba'ath won only five percent of the seats on the higher committees, while the more traditional conservative parties “won” a significant majority.

Nasser signing the Syria-Egypt union pact alongside Shukri al-Quwatli
 Sarraj was appointed head of the National Union in Syria, and by the spring of 1960 had replaced Amer as the chair of the Syrian Executive Council. Under Sarraj Syria was ruled by a brutal security force designed to suppress all opposition to the regime.  The immense increases in public sector control were accompanied by a push for centralization. Nasser abolished regional governments in favor of one central authority, which operated from Damascus February through May and Cairo the rest of the year. As a part of this centralization, Sarraj was relocated to Cairo, where he found himself with little real power. On September 15, 1961 Sarraj returned to Syria and resigned his post on September 26. Without any close allies to watch over Syria, Nasser was blind to the growing unrest of the military.

 On September 28 a group of officers staged a coup and declared Syria's independence from the UAR. Though the coup leaders were willing to renegotiate a union under terms they felt would put Syria on an equal footing with Egypt, Nasser refused such a compromise. He initially considered sending troops to overthrow the new regime, but chose not to once he was informed that the last of his allies in Syria had been defeated.In speeches that followed the coup, Nasser declared he would never give up his goal of an ultimate Arab union, though he would never again achieve such a tangible victory toward this goa.

 In March 1958 Yemen and the United Arab Republic formed the United Arab States. Nasser also encouraged Arab nationalism and revolution took place in Iraq.

The Six-Day War:

In early 1967, Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin sent Nasser a warning through Sadat, who was visiting Moscow, that Israel was about to carry out a large-scale assault against Syria. More warnings followed in the next few months, and King Hussein, aware of the intelligence situation, cautioned Nasser in April not to be dragged into a war.

That same month, pressure on him to act by Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the PLO, as well as the general Arab populace, mounted after an aerial battle between Syria and Israel resulted in the downing of six Syrian planes. Convinced that Israel was determined to attack Syria, he asked UN Secretary-General U Thant to withdraw UNEF forces from Sinai.

On 23 May, Egyptian troops moved into Sharm el-Sheikh and Nasser ordered the Straits of Tiran closed to Israeli shipping. On 27 May he stated "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."After the blockade, he gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on 29 May saying, "the issue was not UNEF or closing the Strait of Tiran; the issue is the rights of the Palestinian people."This was the same message delivered a week earlier during a visit to an air base in the Sinai.

The speeches signaled that Nasser believed war was inevitable. King Hussein arrived in Cairo on 30 May and committed Jordan to the United Arab Command—an alliance which also included Egypt and Syria— under the command of Egyptian general Muhammad Sidqi. Amer anticipated an Israeli attack and advocated Egypt launch a preemptive strike. He was backed by former Syrian prime minister Amin al-Hafiz.

Due to assurances, however, from the American administration and the USSR that Israel would not attack, Nasser refused Amer's suggestion, insisting that Egyptian forces in the Sinai should only act defensively. In addition, he questioned the Egyptian military's readiness since the air force lacked pilots, the army reserve lacked training, and Nasser doubted the competence of Amer's hand-picked officers. Simultaneously, Egypt was facing a financial crisis leading him to believe that the country could not afford a war that would last even a few days. Nonetheless, Nasser eventually began changing positions from avoiding war to giving speeches claiming war was inevitable.

On the morning of 5 June, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck Egyptian air fields, destroying much of the Egyptian Air Force. Before the day ended, Israeli armor had cut through Egyptian defense lines, capturing the town of el-Arish.

According to Sadat, it was only when they captured el-Qantarah el-Sharqiyya, cutting off the Egyptian garrison at Sharm el-Sheikh, that Nasser became aware of the gravity of the situation.

Conquest of Sinai during 7-8 June
After hearing of the attack, he rushed to the army headquarters to inquire about the military situation. It was here that the simmering conflict between Nasser and Amer came into the open when, according to present officers, they burst into "a non-stop shouting match." Nasser accused Amer of giving unsatisfactory answers to his questions, while Amer asked Nasser for more time to launch a counterattack against the Israelis.

The Supreme Executive Committee, set up by Nasser to oversee the conduct of the war, attributed the repeated Egyptian defeats to the Nasser-Amer rivalry and to Amer's overall incompetence.

Despite the extent of Israel's quick military gains, for the first four days the general population in the Arab states believed the fabrications of Arab radio stations which claimed an Arab victory was near. On 8 June, Nasser appeared on television to inform Egypt's citizens of their country's defeat

Nasser status was undermined by the heavy losses suffered during the Six-Day War. He resigned on 9th June 1967 but following large demonstrations supporting him he reversed this decision.  Gamar Abdel Nasser remained in office until dying of a heart attack in 1970. He was replaced by his friend Anwar Sadat.


On 28 September 1970, at the conclusion of the summit and hours after escorting Emir Sabah III of Kuwait, Nasser suffered a heart attack. He was immediately transported to his house and was pronounced dead soon after. His wife Tahia, Heikal and Sadat were present, the last reading the Qur'an at his deathbed.
Nasser with Yasser Arafat and Faisal of KSA, a day prior to his death
Following the announcement of Nasser's death, Egypt and the Arab world were in a state of shock. It was not publicly known at the time that he had previously suffered two heart attacks. According to his doctor al-Sawi Habibi, Nasser's likely cause of death was arteriosclerosis, varicose veins, and complications from long standing diabetes. Nasser was a heavy smoker and there was also a history of heart disease in his family; two of his brothers died in their fifties from the same condition.

His funeral procession through Cairo, on 1 October, was attended by at least five million mourners. The 10-kilometre (6.2 mi) procession to his burial site began at the RCC headquarters with MiG-21 jet fighters flying overhead. His flag-draped coffin was attached to a gun carriage pulled by six horses and led by a column of cavalrymen.

 All Arab heads of state attended; King Hussein of Jordan and PLO leader Yasser Arafat cried openly while Muammar Gaddafi of Libya reportedly fainted twice. Although no major Western dignitaries were present, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin showed up.

Anwar Sadat would later succeed him as Egypt's president. The era of Nasserism was over. 


Nasser's legacy is much debated today. To his sympathizers, he was a leader who reformed his country and re-established Arab pride both inside and outside of it. They testify that under him, Egyptians enjoyed unprecedented access to housing, education, health services, and nourishment as well as other forms of social welfare.

A young Muammer Qadaffi with Nasser, in 1969
Nasser is credited for severely curtailing British influence in Egypt, elevating it to upper world circles, and reforming the country's economy through agrarian reform, major modernization projects such as Helwan and the Aswan High Dam, and various nationalization schemes.

While Nasser was president, Egypt experienced a cultural boom, particularly in theater, film, literature, and music. Nasser's Egypt dominated the Arab world in these fields, producing singers such as Umm Kulthum and Mohammed Abdel Wahab, literary figures such as Naguib Mahfouz and Tawfiq el-Hakim, and producing over 100 films a year compared to just more than a dozen in recent years.

Time magazine stated that despite his mistakes and shortcoming, Nasser "imparted a sense of personal worth and national pride that they [Egypt and the Arabs] had not known for 400 years. This alone may have been enough to balance his flaws and failures." Until the present day, he serves as an iconic figure throughout the Arab world.

Why More Maps Should Be Upside Down

If you've utilised a map at any point in your life, whether it's Google Maps to find out which right turn you just missed on the hig...