Abdel Hakim Amer

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Abdel Hakim Amer
عبد الحكيم عامر.jpg
Vice President of Egypt
In office
7 March 1958 – 30 September 1965
President Gamal Abdel Nasser
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Zakaria Mohieddin
Minister of Defense
In office
1956 – 1967 (with interruptions)
President Gamal Abdel Nasser
Preceded by Hussein el-Shafei
Succeeded by Abdel Wahab el-Beshry
Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Army
In office
1956–1967
President Gamal Abdel Nasser
Preceded by Hussein el-Shafei
Succeeded by Shams Badran
Personal details
Born (1919-12-11)11 December 1919
Astal, Samalout, Al Minya, Egypt
Died 14 September 1967(1967-09-14) (aged 47)
Cairo, Egypt
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Egypt
Service/branch Egyptian Army
Years of service 1939–1967
Rank EgyptianArmyInsignia-FieldMarshal.svg Field Marshal
Commands Chief of Staff
Commander-in-Chief of the Joint Military Command of Egypt and Syria
Battles/wars 1948 Arab–Israeli War
Suez Crisis
North Yemen Civil War
Six-Day War
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union

Mohamed Abdel Hakim Amer (Arabic: محمد عبد الحكيم عامر‎, IPA: [mæˈħæmmæd ʕæbdelħæˈkiːm ˈʕæːmeɾ]; 11 December 1919 – 14 September 1967) was an Egyptian general and political leader.

Early life[edit]

Amer was born in Astal, Samallot, in the Al Minya Governorate on 11 December 1919.[1] After finishing grade school, he attended the Cairo Military Academy and graduated in 1938.[1] He was commissioned into the Egyptian Army in 1939.

Military career[edit]

Amer (right) with President Gamal Abdel Nasser (center) and Speaker of Parliament Anwar Sadat (left), 1965

Amer served in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, took part in the 1952 Revolution and commanded the Egyptian Army in the Suez Crisis, the North Yemen Civil War and the Six-Day War.

Amer played a leading role in the military coup that overthrew King Farouk in 1952 and which brought General Muhammad Naguib and Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser to power. The following year, Amer was made Egypt's Chief-of-Staff, bypassing four military ranks. In 1956, Amer was appointed commander-in-chief of the joint military command established by Egypt and Syria. He also led Egyptian forces against both Israeli and allied British-French forces during the Suez Crisis.

In March 1964, Amer was made first vice-president to Nasser and deputy supreme commander, with the power to rule for 60 days if the president was incapacitated.[1] Amer's distinguished career came to a sudden end after Egypt's crushing defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War of June 1967. Many historians[who?] have stated that much the Egyptian military's failures in the 1967 war can be laid at the feet of Amer.[citation needed] This is because Amer's control of the Egyptian military establishment followed in line with leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser's general policy of presenting different government institutions as fiefdoms to those most loyal to him. In addition, the proxy war Egypt (with Soviet backing) fought against the Saudis, West, and Israelis in the North Yemen Civil War (1962–1970), Nasser supporting the Yemen Arab Republic against the Western and Saudi Arabian backed Royalists, is also viewed as being key to Egypt's defeat in the 1967 Middle East war; as nearly half of the Egypt's Western-trained officer-corps (mostly in Britain at Sandhurst) was in Yemen at the time of the initial Israeli attack on Egypt.[citation needed]

When Amer heard of the fall of Abu Ageila to Israel, he panicked and ordered all units in the Sinai to retreat. This order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt. He was relieved of all his duties and forced into early retirement.

Arrest, trial and death[edit]

In August that year, Amer, along with over 50 Egyptian military officers and two former ministers, was arrested for allegedly plotting a coup to overthrow Nasser. He was kept under house arrest at his villa in Giza.[2]

According to the official Egyptian position, Amer was rushed to hospital on 13 September 1967 in an attempt to save his life after he attempted suicide by swallowing "a large amount of poison pills" upon the arrival of Egyptian officers to question him. After surviving and being taken home the next day, he managed to evade his guards and swallow more pills he kept hidden under an adhesive plaster on his leg.[2] Later, Cairo radio announced his burial in his home village of Astal.

One version of the story holds that Amer was approached at his house on 14 September by high-ranking Egyptian officers and was given a choice to stand trial for treason, which would inevitably have ended with his conviction and execution, or die an honorable death by taking poison.[3] Amer chose the latter option and received a full military burial. Anwar Al Sadat, who later became President of Egypt, expressed his opinion that if he was in Amer's position, he would have done the same soon after the Six-Day War.[4]

In September 2012, Amer's family filled a case to investigate his death. They claimed that he was murdered.[3]

Awards[edit]

Abdel Hakim Amer was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 13 May 1964.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Spencer C. Tucker; Priscilla Mary Roberts (12 May 2008). The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-85109-842-2. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Tough Times for Nasser". Time. 22 September 1967. Retrieved 14 October 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Military prosecutor to investigate death of former Egypt defence minister Abdel-Hakim Amer". Al Ahram. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Oren, Michael B. (3 June 2003). Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Presidio Press. p. 480. ISBN 0-345-46192-4. p. 381
  5. ^ "Abdel Hakim Amer". Heroes of the Soviet Union. War Heroes Russia. Retrieved 3 February 2013.