Witness to War and Peace: Egypt, the October War, and Beyond by Ahmed Aboul Gheit
The son of a fighter pilot, raised in an air force barracks, Ahmed Aboul Gheit was privy to the confidential meetings, undisclosed memoranda, and battle secrets of Egyptian diplomacy for many decades. After a stint at military college, he began his career at the Egyptian embassy in Cyprus before later going on to become permanent representative to the United Nations and eventually, Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs under Hosni Mubarak. In this fascinating memoir, Aboul Gheit looks back on the 1973 October War and the diplomatic efforts that followed it, revealing the secrets of his long career for the first time.
In vivid detail he describes the deliberations of Egypt’s political leadership in the run-up to the war, including the process of articulating Egypt’s war aims, the secret communications between President Sadat and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the role of the Soviet Union during the war, and the unfolding of events on the battlefront in Sinai. He then gives a detailed and deeply personal account of the arduous process of peacemaking that followed, covering the 1973 Geneva Conference, the 1977 Mena House Conference, Sadat’s visit to Israel, the 1978 Camp David Accords, and the subsequent 1979 Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty.
From Sadat’s impassioned address to his cabinet on the eve of the war to delegations ripping out the wiring at their respective hotels, from Jimmy Carter cycling through the bungalows at Camp David to Yitzhak Shamir’s blunt admissions to his Arab counterparts in the 1991 Madrid conference, Aboul Gheit offers an information-packed, first-person account of a turbulent time in Middle Eastern history.