Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, al-

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A policy research institute founded in Cairo in 1968.

Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies is part of the publishing empire that Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal built up around the famous newspaper al-Ahram. It is showcased in a dazzling, steel and glass twelve-story building. The center's original nameCenter for Zionist and Palestine Studiesis revealing. In the wake of Egypt's devastating defeat by Israel in the 1967 ArabIsrael War, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Haykal agreed that Egyptians could no longer afford to remain ignorant of Israeli social and political dynamics. As Nasser's closest journalist confidant, Haykal offered the center's researchers protection from outside interference. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the respected academic who later served as secretary-general of the United Nations, became general supervisor of the center, and a son-in-law of Nasser served as director.

The center's privileged young social scientists set to work to analyze as dispassionately as possible such topics as the reasons for Egypt's defeat, the sources of Israel's strengths, and the nature of U.S.Israel relations. Soon after its founding the center adopted its current name, which reflected its branching out into far-ranging social, economic, and political analyses, probing possible options as Egypt moved from the era of Nasser to that of Anwar Sadat, and then Husni Mubarak. The center also invited foreign scholars to make scholarly presentations.

Haykal fell out with Sadat and was dismissed from al-Ahram in 1974, and Nasser's son-in-law lost his post. The center drifted briefly, having lost its facile access to the top political elite. Sayyid Yasin, from the National Institute for Criminological Research, gave the center new direction. With the help of such talented social scientists as Ali alDin Hilal Dessouki and Saadeddin Ibrahim, Yasin directed the center's efforts toward the educated elite in Egypt and the Arab world. The center's scholars often were able to make limited yet pointed criticisms of regime policies that would not have been tolerated in the regular press or other political forums. In place of Sadat's effusions about the new era of EgyptianIsraeli and EgyptianU.S. relations, for example, the center's scholars offered hard-headed, detached analyses of Egyptian national interest.

see also haykal, muhammad hasanayn.


Baker, Raymond William. Sadat and After: Struggles for Egypt's Political Soul. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Donald Malcolm Reid