WASHINGTON (Sep. 28)
President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, died suddenly today of a heart attack. He was 52. His death, confirmed by Cairo radio will have unpredictable consequences for the Middle East conflict and prospects for peace, diplomatic sources said here today. A spokesman for the Israel Embassy here said he didn’t think Nasser’s death “affected Israel at all. He was not Israel’s President,” he remarked. Other diplomatic sources said however that Nasser’s untimely death was a serious blow that would affect the entire Middle East because “there is no one around of the same stature” in the Arab world. Col. Nasser was born in 1918, was educated at the Cairo Military Academy and made his career as an Army officer. He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and was leader of a group of young Army officers who overthrew the late King Farouk in the coup d’etat of July 23, 1952.
He was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Egypt in 1952-54, Prime Minister and Military Governor in 1954-56 and became Egypt’s first President in 1956, the office he held at the time of his death. It was during Nasser’s tenure that the Soviet Union gained its first foothold in the Middle East, becoming Egypt’s chief military supplier and diplomatic supporter. As President, Col. Nasser frequently visited the USSR. He was awarded the rank of Hero of the Soviet Union, one of the highest orders bestowed by the Soviet Government. President Nasser had suffered from diabetes and other ailments for several years and often sought medical treatment in the USSR. His death came only a day after he presided at a meeting of Arab states in Cairo at which King Hussein, of Jordan and Palestinian guerrilla leader, Yassir Arafat, signed a pact ending the ten-day Jordanian civil war. Diplomatic observers here said Nasser’s death greatly complicated Hussein’s problems since the Jordanian monarch depended on the Egyptian leader for support.