Part 1 of 2, part 2 can be found here
The late journalist Moussa Sabri was the first to mockingly call Ashraf Marwan (the son-in-law of the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser) a prodigy, in reference to the young age at which he accumulated his enormous wealth estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. He possessed power and influence that enabled him to remove any official in his way or anyone he felt threatened by. Sabri was known to have a close relationship with the late President Anwar Sadat as he was his biggest supporter since he took office. He acted as the journalist who spoke in his name, and this nickname would not have been published without his consent.
This marked the beginning of a fierce attack in Egyptian newspapers and by senior journalists on Ashraf Marwan, his suspicious behaviour and his dubious deals. They also had doubts about the bribes he accepted in the presidency’s Mercedes car deal and his dabbling in arms deals, such as the suspicious aircraft deal with Boeing and his secret relationship with the head of the Saudi intelligence agency at the time, Kamal Adham. This was at a time when relations between Egypt and the Arab countries were severed due to Sadat’s visit to Israel. King Fahd had launched a fierce attack on President Sadat, suggesting that the campaign wasn’t launched for no reason and wasn’t aiming to expose the corruption of a state official. The campaign was actually an expression of Sadat’s anger at Marwan and his decision to remove him from his graces and had warned him that a decision to remove him from a position of decision-making was around the corner. Indeed, he was ousted and overthrown.
Ashraf Marwan actually reached his peak during the rule of the late President Anwar Sadat, and not under his father-in-law Gamal Abdel Nasser, even though he worked as a secretary in his office, specifically after the so-called Corrective Revolution on 15 May 1971. He was appointed as a secretary to the head of information affairs and was given privileges and authorities that would both puzzle and astonish, including the following:
- Ashraf Marwan represents the president personally in front of all the presidents and kings of the world.
- Ashraf Marwan represents the Egyptian intelligence agency to all intelligence services in the world.
- No actions can be taken by the Egyptian Armed Forces without his personal consent.
- Marwan oversees the work of the State Security Investigations Service, the general intelligence, and military intelligence regarding the security and safety of the president.
These authorities are no less than those of the president himself. The question here is why did Sadat give him all of this power and senior status that no one has had before?
There has been much said about this man, who was mysterious in life and death. For example, it was said that he stole Abdel Nasser’s safe after his death and took it to Sadat before anyone surrounding Abdel Nasser got to it. It has also been said that he was the first to inform Sadat of the activity taking place against him and the conspiracy to overthrow him. He also gave him the recordings to prove this. This is how Sadat took immediate action and beat them to it by arresting them all on the night of 5 May 1971, eating them for lunch before they ate him for dinner, as the Egyptian saying goes.
I will deviate from the main topic of this article to make a quick comparison between what the clever President Anwar Sadat did and what President Mohammed Morsi did not do in the coups against them. They both faced similar circumstances and situations, as in both cases, neither the army, police, intelligence, or media were on their side and they did not have enough of a handle on the state institutions that would allow them to govern alone. Despite this, Sadat was successful in eliminating his opponents within one night, while the coup against Morsi succeeded. Perhaps the circumstances that helped Sadat was the fact that the situation was unfavorable for him, especially since the regional forces wanted to oust him and conspired against him, contributing to the coup against him, supporting it financially, logistically, and morally out of fear for their thrones. This thought came to me while I was highlighting this important event, which occurred on 15 May, allowing Sadat to establish his leadership.
Returning to the prodigy, who earned a PhD overnight and was then addressed as Dr Ashraf Marwan and became stronger than any state official, second only to President Sadat. He would give orders and instructions to ministers, and they would obey his every order. However, this same question will remain without a convincing answer: Where did Ashraf Marwan get all of this power and influence from, and why was he given absolute authority?
This character is surrounded by much ambiguity and controversy, provoking us to ask questions and find several answers to these questions. These answers are confusing and make you wonder which are closer to logic and the truth. Hence, anyone looking for real answers and is serious about uncovering the truth finds themselves in a dilemma, as they do not want to make unfair accusations and at the same time they cannot ignore their mind and overlook the fact they see with their own eyes, which raise theories and hypotheses that can be built upon. This is why there have been so many rumours and stories about his multiple, varied, and even intertwined relations with countries and with influential individuals and officials. Some of these relationships seem strange and dubious and all of them bear the characteristic of ambiguity and mystery, just like the complex man himself.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.