The Egyptian left and the roots of neutralism in the pre-nasserite era

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Abstract

The prevailing belief among many contemporary Middle-Eastern scholars is that the pioneer of neutralism in Egypt and the Arab world was Jamal 'Abd al-Nasir. This article disputes this common wisdom and argues that the last Wafd government (1950-1952) preceded Nasir in formulating and implementing a policy of neutralism. Wafdist neutralism, however, did not emerge out of the blue. In fact, the ideological seeds of neutralism, as this article shows, had already been planted in Egyptian soil in the early 1940s by elements of the Egyptian left. Ideological and political cooperation between the Wafd's left wing and prominent circles from the Egyptian left bore dividends when the former, represented by Muhammad Salah al-Din, the last Wafdist-Foreign Minister, were to have a great influence on the formulation and realization of Egypt's policy of neutralism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Harakat Ansar al-Salam associated itself with the World Movement for Peace, which had been formed and was supported by the Soviet Union. This movement had been an important vehicle for furthering Soviet interests beyond Eastern Europe. Harakat Ansar al-Salam supported and adopted the decisions made at the Second World Congress of the World Movement for Peace held in Warsaw 16–22 November 1950.56 Siraj al-Din, the Wafdist Minister of the Interior, and the leader of the right-wing group within the government, strongly criticized the activities of Harakat Ansar al-Salam, mainly because some of its members were left-wing Wafdists. However, Salah al-Din, the Foreign Minister, represented the political line of the Wafdist left wing, and was the power behind Egypt’s policy of neutralism. Salah al-Din’s neutralism was supported and endorsed by Harakat Ansar al-Salam, as well as by many other political parties.57

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