April 17, 1954
Gamal Abdel Nasser, 36, is appointed the prime minister of Egypt.
Nasser’s interest in politics goes back to age 12 when he accidentally participated in an ultranationalist protest calling for the overthrow of the British colonial government. Nasser was arrested, and his sense of injustice over the incident and anger at the British government grew over the years. He led a student demonstration in 1935 against British rule and for the restoration of Egypt’s 1923 constitution. He joined the Royal Military Academy in 1937 and fought against Israel’s independence in 1948.
Nasser created the Association of Free Officers in 1949 to bring independence to Egypt, and he led the organization in an uprising in July 1952 that seized the army headquarters, all government buildings and all radio stations. As a result, a republic was established in Egypt. The monarchy was abolished June 18, 1953, and King Farouk was exiled.
Muhammad Naguib, one of the other leaders of the revolution, was appointed the republic’s first president. But his presidency produced a rift with Nasser, and he resigned in February 1954, clearing the way for Nasser to become prime minister. After a new constitution is adopted in 1956, Nasser becomes Egypt’s president on the strength of a policy of pan-Arab nationalism. He nationalizes the Suez Canal, leading to Israel’s Sinai campaign of 1956, and incites the Six-Day War of June 1967. He dies at age 52 in September 1970 and is succeeded as president by Anwar Sadat.