Friends Fall Apart: The Wax and Wane of Indo-Egyptian Relations, 1947–1970

Thesis Type:

PhD dissertation


As a student of history, when one studies either Middle Eastern history or diplomatic/international history after the WWII, it is almost impossible to avoid coming across terms such as the Bandung Conference of 1955, the Suez crisis of 1956, the Non-Aligned Movement, Third Worldism, Nehru and Nasser, for instance. Student often learn how the Bandung Conference marked the watershed in the history of the so-called Third World countries. How those countries attempted to balance themselves between the two super powers representing completely different political ideologies in the Cold War. Then the Suez crisis of 1956 and how Nasser came out of the crisis as a hero in a war many people saw as an attempt of the British and the French, with the help of the Israelis, to resurrect the imperialism in Egypt.

One often learns about those historical moments. Yet the relations between Egypt and India, which were important players in the international arena, are not well studied and did not receive high priority. Many literatures in the field of foreign relations, foreign policies and foreign affairs of Egypt and India are overwhelmingly about Egypt or India with the U.S. Europe or with their neighbors, or in the region in which the two countries are located. One wonders what had happened to the cordial relationships between Egypt and India after the Bandung conference and Suez crisis when their relations reached its zenith. How did the two countries develop and nurture their relations is not well researched.

My thesis revolves around a number of core historical questions. What had become of the once strong and vigorous relations between Egypt and India? What triggered the wane in cordial relations between Egypt and India since 1956? By looking how the two countries reacted and reciprocated each other in a number of political crises, such as the Kashmir issue, the Sino-Indian border war of 1962, the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 and the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, one can see the roots of the discord which led to the decline of their relations in 1960s. On the other hand, what were the cultural exchanges between the two countries and what were the results of such exchanges? How cultural activities across borders are vital to the fostering and strengthening of relations among nations.

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