The Passing of Sa’d al-Din al-Shadhili, Architect of the 1973 War

Feb 10

Sa’d al-Din al-Shadhili (b. 1922), the architect of Egypt’s successful crossing of the Suez Canal  in the 1973 War, died late February 10, 2011, in Cairo.  Al-Shadhili had a long and distinguished military career, beginning with action as a junior officer in World War II fighting against the Germans in the western desert, to service with distinction in the 1967 War during which he was able to withdraw with his unit intact from Sinai despite being cut off.   Al-Shadhili was dismissed from the Egyptian Army in December 1973 due to his sharp disagreements with then Egyptian President, Anwar al-Sadat, and was sent to England and then Portugal, where he served as Egyptian Ambassador to those two countries.

He broke with the regime in 1978 as a result of the Camp David Accords, and lived in Algeria as a political refugee. Returning to Egypt in 1992 for the first time since 1978, he was arrested and imprisoned for seven years as a result of a conviction that was obtained against him in abstentia for disclosing military secrets.  Even though Egyptian civil courts overturned the conviction, he was not released until 1999.  Despite al-Shadhili`s critical role in planning and training the Egyptian armed forces in connection with the 1973 War, he was the only Egyptian commander who fought in that war who received no official honors.  It is tragic that he died as Egypt stands on the cusp of a revolutionary transformation that he now doubt supported.  To add to the irony, he was buried with full military honors on February 11, 2011, the very day that Muhammad Husni Mubarak was forced to resign the Presidency in disgrace. May God have mercy on him.

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