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'We are all Nasser's soldiers': MEMO in Conversation with Alex Rowell

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser is a divisive figure, to some he is the North African state's saviour to others he betrayed its people and destabilised the region, but could he have been both?

December 13, 2023 at 4:00 pm



The Arab World with its different authoritarian leaders still lives under the shadow of 1 man – Gamal Abdel Nasser. President of Egypt from 1954 to 1970, Nasser was not only part of the first wave of post-colonial Arab leaders, he was the trendsetter for everyone from Muammar Gaddafi to Saddam Hussein. A magnetic personality, powerful orator and a brutal dictator. His legacy divides opinion in Egypt today, did he save Egypt or betray it? Did he do what was necessary or did he do what was necessary for him? While discussions about Nasser tend to focus on his role as leader of Egypt, his interference in other Arab countries is less discussed; from directing assassinations in Lebanon, backing rebels in Yemen and attempting to destabilise Iraq and Jordan. The 1950s was a time of great democratic experimentation in the Arab World, which Nasser played a leading role in crushing. A new book We Are Your Soldiers: How Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser Remade the Arab World takes a deep dive into Nasser, Nasserism and foreign intervention. Joining us is the book’s author Alex Rowell.

Rowell is an editor at New Lines magazine and the author of Vintage Humour: The Islamic Wine Poetry of Abu Nuwas. His articles have been published by the BBCthe Economist and the Washington Post, among others.

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