In Egypt, the Society of Free Officers seizes control of the government in a military coup d’etat staged by Colonel Gamal Abdal Nasser’s Free Officers. King Farouk, whose rule had been criticized for its corruption and failures in the first Arab-Israeli war, was forced to abdicate and relinquish power to General Muhammad Naguib, the figurehead leader of the coup.
The revolutionaries redistributed land, tried politicians for corruption, and in 1953 abolished the monarchy. In 1954, Nasser emerged from behind the scenes, removed Naguib from power, and proclaimed himself prime minister of Egypt. For the next two years, Nasser ruled as an effective and popular leader and promulgated a new constitution that made Egypt a socialist Arab state, consciously nonaligned with the prevalent communist and democratic-capitalist systems of the Cold War world. In 1956, he was elected, unopposed, to the new office of president. He died still in office in 1970 from a heart attack. Nasser was a consistently popular and influential leader during his many years in power.