Imagine Badawy and 13 other senior officers eating breakfast before their fatal copter ride of March 2, 1981. What might've happened had some of them gotten suspicious, averted their fate and taken action against their would-be killer? Here is how things might've gone differently on that fateful day, and subsequently:
Badawy "Isn't it odd that all of us
are to board the copter, just to watch these maneuvers?
General X "Indeed, what is so important about these exercises that all of us were sent here? There's nothing so special about this. Just last year, there was a key test of our defenses at the eastern entrance to the Mitla pass. It's hard to imagine something more important, but not half of us were there."
Badawy "What's really odd is, why is the President so keen on getting the views of those whom, just a short while ago, he wanted thrown out of the army? He wanted me to get rid of most of you here."
General Y "So what might the answer be?"
Badawy "Gentleman, I have a strong suspicion the President wants to get rid of us. He doesn't want us dismissed. He wants us dead."
General X "He wants to kill us??! Then why send us here?"
Badawy "Gentleman, I think we should be very careful about that copter. It could be sabotaged. Here are all the officers he wants to get rid of, and all of us are supposed to get into that copter..."
General Y "You think Sadat arranged to have a bomb placed aboard?"
Badawy "I'd strongly advise we inspect that copter before taking off in it."
General Z "I'll order the aircrew to test fly it."
So with fourteen senior officers watching, the pilot took off on a test flight. Sure enough, the helicopter quickly became unstable, fell, crashed and exploded.
General X "Field Marshall Badawy, you just saved our lives!"
General Y "That new guy on the maintanence staff(!!). I wondered what he was doing with the copter last night, and why he left."
Badawy "He was doing Sadat's bidding! Our lives are saved only for the time being. Sadat will crush us, unless we get him first! The die is cast, gentlemen! We must assume command of our units immediately, and oust Anwar before he tries again!"
General Z "Field Marshall, I have an idea. To keep blackass (Sadat) in the dark as long as possible, I'll have them report the helicopter came down with all fourteen of us aboard, in an area of dunes not far from Siwa, and troops are trying to locate the crash site."
Badawy "Excellent! As soon as that message goes out those commanding troops near Cairo will board the plane here and fly back to their units. Hit the Presidential Palace as soon as possible, and report back to me. The rest of us will take command of troops here, and send them back east. "
And so Sadat, who thought he had wiped out all the officers he disliked, was overthrown and killed along with Mubarak. To avoid the appearance of a military junta, Badawy elevated former foreign minister Fahmy to the Presidency. Badawy remained Defense Minister, although he was the de facto head of state. Shazly was recalled from exile and given his old job of Chief of Staff. His skill, and popularity among the soldiers, were key assets. Badawy's reputation as a war hero made most Egyptians willing to support his regime.
The fall of Sadat led to greatly improved relations between Egypt and other arab states, and Iran. Few of them had liked Sadat's peacemaking. The Kremlin was also delighted. Brezhnev could now resume his role as Cairo's chief backer, reversing the work of Kissinger.
Publicly, Fahmy and Badawy said they wouldn't abrogate the peace treaty with Israel. They knew the Egyptian masses preferred peace and they didn't want to provoke Washington and Tel Aviv too soon. Privately, however, the Egyptians told the Syrians, Saudis, Iranians etc the treaty would be dumped eventually--sometime after Israel withdrew from all of Sinai in April 1982. The rise of Fahmy, who resigned during Sadat's 1977 trip to Jerusalem, made the new regime's promise quite credible.
Skeptical that Israel would make the concessions necessary for a comprehensive settlement, Fahmy and Badawy resolved to apply the necessary military and economic pressure. The Saudis and other rich arabs were to provide funding for massive new arms purchases. Badawy's shopping list included Mirage 2000s, TU-22s, MIG-25s, T-72/80s etc, all in lavish abundance.
While preparing for a showdown with zionists, Cairo fostered peace among muslims. To maximize arab capability against Israel, Egypt sought to end the Iran-Iraq war. Rather than openly siding with Iraq, Fahmy contacted Iran and attempted to mediate the conflict. At first Teheran resisted his efforts. However, after its failure near Basra in July 1982, Iran accepted a peace in which its territory was returned in exchange for peace.
Badawy's government also meant peace in North Africa. Given the prospect of a new jihad against Israel, Ghadafy refrained from meddling in Chad, and a terrible misadventure was avoided.
Unwilling to take the onus for the breakdown of peace, Israel completed its withdrawal from Sinai in April 1982. The new Egyptian regime did not, however, deter the Israeli strike on Osirak in July 1981, nor the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. The latter proved costly to Syria and the Palestinians.
Fahmy and Badawy claimed Egypt was not ready for war and could not help Syria and the PLO. But the Israeli invasion gave Cairo the pretext it needed to dump the peace treaty. This preserved Cairo's new influence in the region. By late 1982 Syria and Egypt were in the midst of massive rearmament, while Iraq, now at peace, was making plans to send forces to Syria.
Badawy knew that Egypt shouldn't mass forces close to the Israeli border. That would invite a rerun of 1967. In 1982, Egypt needed about five years to become fully ready, and Israel was planning a preemptive war. For the time being, most of Cairo's army was deployed along the line of the passes.
In 1983, both sides continued their feverish buildups. Seeking to revive the peace treaty, Washington halted aid to Egypt until it recommitted itself. But Libyan and Gulf aid more than compensated for the the loss. Needless to say, the US continued to arm Israel, but demanded that it not launch a preemptive attack.
Nevertheless, Israel was determined to crush the Arabs. It seemed the best time to attempt this was the election year 1984. In order to get Jewish money and votes, US politicians would have to back Israel no matter what.
In September 1984, the Israeli blitz began. The Arabs were, however, forewarned, and had learned much from the debacle of 1982. SAM and interceptor forces were much improved, so the IAF strikes were unsuccessful. On the ground Israeli forces launched a holding attack near Kuneitra while masses of armor poured into Lebanon. The IDF sought to overwhelm Syria's right flank, and take the Syrian forces near the Golan from the rear. Meanwhile, armored columns raced deep into Sinai.
Soon, Israel's offensives ran into trouble. The thrust into Lebanon bogged down in the Bekaa. Iraqi and Jordanian forces helped contain the attacks. Egyptian troops repulsed the enemy at the passes, including the Jiradi. Soon Israel became mired in a war of attrition. Fighting in static positions proved futile and costly.
Jerusalem's attempt to exploit the elections backfired. Bailing Israel out in a war it had started cost the US billions of dollars. Millions of Americans resented the expense and the lobby behind it. In addition, the US economy began to suffer from a new oil embargo imposed, like that of '73, in retaliation for US aid to Israel.
After the cease fire that fall, Israel had more territory but overall was in worse shape than ever. Eager to end the embargo, the US agreed, by 1985, to pressure Israel out of Sinai and Lebanon. The excellent performance of his forces, and the fact Jerusalem got virtually no concessions from the arabs, enabled Badawy to proclaim a victory. An even bigger political victory soon followed.
Demoralized by the outcome of the war, and fearing a new one that decade, Israel finally agreed to withdraw from all of the territories seized in 1967.
We can't really know what would've happened had the tragic event of March 1981 been averted. It is entirely possible, though, that the outcome for the whole region would've been far better. And even though this scenario is fantasy, I believe some of it will ultimately come true.