"There is no happiness for people at the expense of other people."
Mohammad Anwar el-Sadat was born on December 25, 1918, in Mit Abu al-Kum, 40 miles north of Cairo, Egypt. After graduating from the Cairo Military Academy in 1938, Sadat was stationed at a distant outpost where he met Gamal Abd el-Nasser, beginning a long political association.
During World War II Sadat worked to expel British troops from Egypt. The British arrested and imprisoned him in 1942, but he later escaped. During a second prison stay, Sadat taught himself French and English.
After leaving jail, Sadat renewed contact with Nasser. In the 1950s he was a member of the Free Officers organization that overthrew the Egyptian monarchy in 1952. He became editor of the revolutionary paper al-Gumhuriya in 1953 and also authored several books on the revolution during the late 1950s. Sadat held various high offices, including speaker of the Egyptian Parliament, that led to his serving in the vice presidency (1964-66, 1969-70). He ascended to the Presidency in 1970 following the death of President Gamal Abd el-Nasser.
Sadat’s domestic policies included decentralization and diversification of the economy and relaxation of Egypt’s political structure long before these measures became fashionable in the developing countries. In foreign affairs, Anwar Sadat stood out for his courage and bold diplomacy. He did not hesitate to expel Soviet forces from Egypt in 1972, even as he planned a military campaign to regain control of the Sinai Peninsula from Israel. The Egyptian army achieved a tactical surprise in its attack on the Israeli-held Sinai Peninsula in October 1973, and, although Israel successfully counterattacked, Sadat emerged from the war with greatly enhanced prestige.
After the war, Sadat began to work toward peace in the Middle East. He made a dramatic visit to Israel in 1977, during which he traveled to Jerusalem to place his plan for a peace settlement before the Israeli Knesset. This initiated a series of diplomatic efforts that Sadat continued despite strong opposition from most of the Arab world and the Soviet Union. These efforts were bolstered by the intervention of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose active role helped achieve the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. Together with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sadat was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1978. Their continued political negotiations resulted in the signing on March 26, 1979, of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, the first between Israel and any Arab state.
Sadat’s opening to the West and the peace treaty with Israel, while lauded by most of the international community, generated opposition and isolated Egypt from the Arab world. Sadat was tragically assassinated by extremists opposed to peace with Israel on October 6, 1981, while reviewing a military parade commemorating the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
In one of Anwar Sadat's last interviews, a reporter asked, "President Sadat, if you had only three wishes, what would they be?" He answered, "One, peace in the Middle East. Two, peace in the Middle East. Three, peace in the Middle East."
Listen to Generations of Leadership in the Middle East- Twenty-five years after Anwar Sadat's speech to the Israeli Knesset, a look at the changing generations of leadership in the Middle East., on WBUR On Point, November 21, 2002
Sadat's address to the U.S. Congress - November 5, 1972
President Reagan's Remarks on the death of Anwar Sadat, October 6, 1981
Read adress delivered by Anwar el Sadat at the First Afro-Asian people's Solidarity Conference, December 26, 1957