Let’s learn from our fatal mistakes


Novelist Abbas Al-Aqqad told us about his philosophy of love saying what is not love is easier to define than what is love. The same goes for any definition of a meaning or a thing. Love is not a sexual instinct because instinct is generally common among males and females, while love specifies and distinguishes. Love is also not friendship because friendship is strongest when it is between two of the same sex, but love is strongest when it is between two opposite sexes. Finally, love is not a choice.

I remembered this philosophy of thought in the midst of the current presidential election campaign which promotes its respective candidate as the new Nasser or Sadat.

If I was a campaign manager for one of the candidates I would say: we will benefit from Nasser and Sadat’s mistakes. For example, we will not violate international agreements and pacts as Nasser did in 1956 by nationalising the Suez Canal when only 13 years were left for its franchise to end. As a consequence of that move we lost Om Al-Rashrash, a precious piece of land taken by Israel, and now known as Eilat.

We will not weaken the patriotic sense of belonging for the sake of Arab leadership instead of Arab unity that we will work for, such as the European Common Market.

We will not lead our army into a fierce war in an Arab state like Yemen which eventually drained this army.

We will not close the Gulf of Aqaba which is considered a declaration of war. Thus, we were caught in an evil superpower trap using Israel as its tool.

We will not destroy the social fabric of society as Nasser did; that is to say, the landlord versus the peasant, the house owner versus the residents and the employer versus the employee. This brought housing construction to a halt and led to agricultural land fragmentation. Production was wasted because the worker became a dictator.

Moreover, we will not launch a national project without studying all its aspects. For example, this idol, which is called the High Dam, gives us 10 percent of the country’s electricity, but deprived us from silt, the Nile gift to Egypt. As a result, arable lands and fisheries were lost.

If not for 1956, the setback in 1967 would not have happened. Because of the 1967 war we had to go through the war of attrition, then the 1973 war which brought Sinai back to us, but demilitarised. In other words, Sinai was back with limited sovereignty.

We learn from Sadat, his experience and shrewdness. I was in England when he took office. Golda Meir said back then: “Now the black fox is in power”.

Once again, we must avoid Sadat’s destruction of the social fabric when he instigated groups (who we know well) to act against leftists, Wafdists and liberals whose only weapon was a pen and a paper. He gave free hand to groups which only believe in violence and he never learned the lesson of the assassination of Ahmed Maher, Noqrashi and Helwan judge Al-Khazindar, not to mention the Cairo fire and Nasser’s assassination attempt.

Finally, Sadat’s actions backfired and he was assassinated. Some said it was an eye for an eye because they accused him of assassinating Amin Othman. Only God knows the truth.

Let’s learn from our disasters and never forget Toshka, the collapse of the educational system and the absence of the rule of law during Hosni Mubarak’s presidential terms. Dictatorship and religious fundamentalism were the pillars of the three presidents’ rule.

Wassim Al-Sisi is a an Egyptologist and urologist.