Ismail Fahmi

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On October 31, 1973, Egyptian foreign minister Ismail Fahmi meets with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, about a week after the end of fighting in the Yom Kippur War.

Ismail Fahmi (20 October 1922 – 22 November 1997) was an Egyptian diplomat and politician. He served as ambassador to Austria (1968-1971), tourism minister (1973), foreign minister (1973–1977) and deputy prime minister (1975-1977). He was awarded to professorship. He resigned from the government in 1977 to protest Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem. Although he was a supporter and confidant of Sadat, later he became sharply critical of Sadat’s policies and decision making.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Fahmi was born on 22 October 1922.[2] His father was a public prosecutor in Cairo.[2]

He held a degree in political science from Cairo University in 1945.[2]

Early career[edit]

Fahmi joined ministry of foreign affairs in 1946.[2] He served as a diplomat a part of the Egypt's delegation to the United Nations from 1949 to 1957.[2] He was an intelligent, able, assertive, self-confident and articulate diplomat.[3] He was an activist and a tough negotiator.[3] Then he served in the Egypt's delegation on the International Atomic Energy Agency until 1959.[2]

Next he returned to Egypt and worked at the foreign office.[2] He was appointed ambassador to Austria between 1968.[2] From 1969 to 1970 he served as the ambassador of Egypt to France.[2] His next post was deputy foreign minister which he held from 1971 to November 1973.[2]

Fahmi came to attention of Sadat at a symposium in Egypt. His arguments about the Egyptian military action against Israel, re-evolution and reshaping of Egyptian- Soviet relationships, closer contact with the US and the involvement with both Moscow and Washington in solving the Middle East conflict impressed Sadat, who appointed Fahmi foreign minister after 1973 October War.

Foreign Minister of Egypt, 1973–1977[edit]

Fahmi was appointed foreign minister in November 1973.[2] He decided to keep lines of communication open between Egypt and Soviet Union. However Fahmi recounts certain events in which he was directly involved: his first encounters with Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon; his participation in talks leading to the Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreements of 1974 and 1975. He reluctantly supported the first agreement and opposed to the second. He met with both US and Soviet foreign ministers. According to Fahmi, “Kissinger is highly intelligent but he has tendency to manipulate people”.[4] Fahmi stated that “Zbigniew Brzezinski was professor at heart inclined to lecture experienced diplomat”.[4] When Sadat decided to visit Jerusalem, he reacted to the decision with these words:

Furthermore he argued Sadat could not demonstrate any proof that Israelis would respond to his move with comparable good will.[4] After Sadat’s visit he resigned from his post.

Later career[edit]

Following resignation, Fahmi kept supporting the convocation of the Geneva Conference as the only way to achieve peace.[5] Following that incident he continued to write books and articles about the peacemaking activities in the Middle East. His best known book was “Negotiating for Peace in the Middle East: An Arab View”. Many years he worked as an academic in Egypt. In 1984, he unsuccessfully ran for office in the general elections on the list of the New Wafd Party.[2]

Personal life and death[edit]

Fahmi died on 21 November 1997.[6] His son, Nabil, was appointed foreign minister to the interim government of Egypt led by Hazem Al Beblawi in July 2013.[7]


  1. ^ "Recruitment and Composition of the Elite". Country Studies. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Goldschmidt Jr., Arthur (1999). Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt. Boulder, CO: L. Reinner. p. 51.   – via Questia (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b [ Joseph Sisco. An Egyptian Foreign Minister’s Memoirs. The New York Times, 19 June 1983]
  4. ^ a b c [ Biography - (1922-1997): An article from: Contemporary Authors Online [HTML] (Digital)]
  5. ^ US diplomatic cable on Fahmi's conversation with US Ambassadr
  6. ^ "November 1997". Rulers. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Dune, Michale Collins (15 July 2013). "Nabil Fahmy accepts the Egyptian foreign ministry". Middle East Institute. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Mohammed Hassan El-Zayyat
Foreign Minister of Egypt
Succeeded by
Muhammad Ibrahim Kamel