Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Mummified President

Karim kindly and quickly translated my latest article from Al-Akhbar.

The Mummified President: Or the Follower of the Follower.

The crisis between Hezbollah and the regime in Egypt has been branching out leading the Al-Arabiya channel to give the matter its own segment during its daily news slash propaganda a few days ago. The channel hosted the editor-in-chief of Rose-Ul-Yusuf along with the retired Lebanese colonel Hesham Jaber. To add a bit of “objectivity”, Saleh Al-Qellab was also invited, or perhaps to conciliate the opposing points of view.

Rose-Ul-Yusuf magazine, like all government aligned and (beloved) official Egyptian magazines and newspapers lost the attractiveness which it hasn’t known for decades now. For instance, it’s enough to compare Al-Ahram before the revolution and during the era of Nasser and the same Al-Ahram during the eras of Sadat and Mubarak. Who reads Al-Ahram these days at all, except those who want to find out who died from the obituaries section? The current Rose-Ul-Yusuf represents a familiar pattern found today in official Arab media outlets (or electronic media sites such as Elaph): A media that is in liberal disguise while it has in fact allied itself to autocratic and tyrannical regimes in return for many benefits. A media that uses sleaze and women as objects as well as rousing those repressed urges to attract readership. This magazine is an official outlet for the ruling party no matter what the latter does and no matter how many or who it murders. What’s also ironic is that both Sadat’s media and Saudi media are incessantly attacking Nasser for his role in oppressing the press, as if the current media either in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Jordan is free and uncensored. Those in these medias mentioned above forget that Egyptian newspapers and publications in the days of Nasser were actually read and circulated: Al-Ahram had writers of such caliber as Mahfouz, Al-Hakim, Edris, Louis ‘Awaad, Ghali Shukri and many other talented writers. But who can point to even one talent in Mubarak’s media today? It is enough to show the mediocrity of such media by noting that Oussama Saraya is the current editor in chief of Al-Ahram. Any comparison in this regard between Mohammad Hasanein Haykal, for instance, and no matter what could be said about the man, and Oussama Saraya does not have a favorable outcome to Mubarak or Sadat….or Saraya himself. Al-Ahram used to employ a multitude of intellectuals and writers, while it’s crammed today with Jamal’s [Mubarak] gang as he relentlessly inflame sectarian and religious feelings. What this means is that the Egyptian media condemns in practice any sectarian agitation unless it is endorsed by its own institutions, be they governmental or media institutions. In the same manner, this media promotes a narrow form of country-wide nationalism and doesn’t invoke pan-Arab nationalism except in the context of countering the Safavid-Qajarid grand scheme.

In any case, the episode referred to, started with violent bashing coming from the editor in chief of Rose-Ul-Yusuf – the magazine that praises America and criticizes it in the same issue according to the needs of Hosni Mubarak and whether a report on human rights status in Egypt has been issued by an American official. But the Egyptian’s regime interest has been concurrent with that of the U.S and Israel for the past years; ever since the regime in Egypt discovered that it had made a mistake in thinking that the American administration – any administration – gives any weight to the status of human rights under any Arab regime. The Egyptian regime then settled down and dismissed its unfounded fears! Al-Qellab, who was supposed to be representing the neutral point of view in the discussion, was rather angered, indignant, threatening, furious and abusive! The little darling – as they would call him in the Levant – was previously the minister of information under the Jordanian regime. Usually, working for the Arab regimes of oppression is a lousy profession, but it becomes even lousier and more despicable if it’s a profession in the domains of either media or intelligence (with permission from Samir ‘Atalla the professional writer of praises to prince Muqrin and Jihad El-Khazen the professional writer of praises to prince Nayef). The sole function of the media under the Hashemite regime is to defend the financial and political collaboration with Israel, and to defend the massacres committed by the Jordanian army against the Palestinian people. ‘Adnan Abou ‘Odeh was for example, trained in Britain on the fundamentals of psychological warfare (as mentioned by Avi Shalim in his hagiographic biography of King Hussein) before taking up the task of defending the September massacres in the Jordanian media.

Al-Qellab appeared as an expert, yet even a Faqih in Shi’ite Jurispendence, who issued a fatwa in favour of Tyre’s expelled mufti Ali Al-Amin (a darling of prince Muqrin), and who volunteers in Egyptian and Saudi medias to adopt the stances of both governments – in addition to that of a third government in the region – including the policies of humiliating the Shi’ites and sectarian agitation against them. But counting on the expelled mufti of Tyre to win over the Shi’ite public opinion is like the American’s counting on Ahmad Al Shalabi in 2003 to lead Iraq and to sign a peace treaty between the “new” Iraq and Israel. Meanwhile, and as for Hesham Jaber, he is reminiscent of the token liberal guest in the right-wing Fox news network. It is widely known that Fox invites eloquent and staunch right-wingers while it invites a timid inhibited liberal guest. Saudi & Hariri-aligned media thus similarly invite someone like Hesham Jaber to defend the opposed point of view. Jaber expressed his deep respect for the profanity of Qellab and the Rose-Ul-Yusuf guest before also expressing his respect for the expelled mufti of Tyre. Jaber also mumbled some talk about his disagreement with Hezbollah when the viewer had assumed that Jaber was invited to represent the other point of view! But these are the criteria of diversity according to the media of the house of Saud.

The Egyptian campaign against Hezbollah is becoming fiercer as we speak, and is widening to encompass the media of Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz. The latter is anxious to be crowned king of Saudi Arabia, as I was told years ago by the former American ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman. This prince Salman is hasting to get more intimate with Zionists so maybe America would help him become King, as any reader can notice from reading his London-based newspaper.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian campaign in the media is not countered by Hezbollah’s media, which thinks that its silence is an intelligent outmaneuvering on its part. Nasrallah’s most recent speech was clear in explaining the party’s position towards the various Arab regimes. The party explained by saying that it is not against any of the Arab regimes, and declared that it will not wage any campaigns against any Arab regime. The guests of Al-Manar TV know that in the past few months all guests were asked to refrain from criticizing Saudi Arabia. But it seems that the party is unaware that it is the Arab regimes themselves that seek adversity and war with Hezbollah, even if the latter chooses the path of peace and reconciliation. The plot is already in place whether Hezbollah wants to acknowledge it or not, in the same manner in which the Jordanian regime discovered in a suitable moment (suitable to Israel of course) plots by Hamas to carry out bombings in Jordan.

Who said that it is only Ba’athist regimes that foil infernal plots in their countries? But Hezbollah did not attain the truth that George Habash and Wadi’ Haddad previously attained following the events of 1967: That the goal of liberating Palestine contradicts in both words and actions with remaining at peace with the Arab regimes (but the PFLP later abandoned this deduction). But Hezbollah can be excused in preferring not to go to arms with these regimes, because the card of sectarian embattlement being officially used by the Saudi camp, weakens Hezbollah. This is because the latter is easy to criticize as a result of its divisive ideological nature and sectarian constitution. For instance, the party can be blamed for not being interested in building a pro-resistance front similar to the pro-Palestinian revolution front established by Kamal Jumblat. The party can also be blamed for not being comfortable in allying itself with the secular-leftist branch of the resistance in Lebanon and outside of Lebanon. However it cannot be blamed for not wanting or not being capable of adopting a different ideology.

But the Egyptian regime is clueless in all matters. The whole issue – all of the issue – is the bequeathal of the presidency that the mummified president is working on with diligence and perseverance. Hosni Mubarak is the quintessential president of hazard just like his mentor Anwar Sadat was. If Sadat was a follower of Nasser (the pillars of power agreed on Sadat because he was the least dangerous follower, and was the living example of “Yes Sir!” in the era of Nasser, then Mubarak was raised as a follower of Sadat: He was the perfect follower of the follower. It was ironic that both Mubarak and Sadat named their firstborns “Jamal” after Nasser. Mubarak’s loyalty to Sadat was absolute, while many of Sadat’s foreign ministers abandoned their president because of his peace accord with Israel, including the Cigar puffer Ismail Fahmi, who was taken by “Dear Henri” [Kissinger]. Colleague Robert Springborg in his book about Mubarak’s Egypt nailed it in his analysis about Mubarak’s rule being a regime that depends on the domination by both military and intelligence institutions, with their involvement in different sectors of the “engorged” national economy. In addition, Mubarak, the veteran follower did not trust any follower and still refuses to appoint a vice president. When Abdul-Halim Abou Ghazaleh became too strong, he ousted him, and when Sh’eban Abdul-Rahim expressed his love for Amro Mousa, he isolated the latter in his post in the Arab league. Like Gilgamesh, Arab leaders suffer from the complex of immortality: They cannot comprehend why they are not immortal. Old age disturbs them so you see the octogenarian among them such as Mubarak or Abdullah entering their ninth decade with pitch black hair. Grey hair only happens to others from among the masses and not to the hair to rulers (Saddam insisted on dying his hair even under captivity). But Mubarak found a magical recipe that guarantees the bequeathal of his presidency: He discovered and much to his satisfaction that the American administration does not care about democracy or human rights, and that both issues are usually used to achieve further concessions for the interest of Israel, and further cooperation with America’s current global warfare. The black-haired man – the mummified president who competes with Pharaohs – that normalization with Israel can reduce any American (and European) criticism of his oppressive regime, and while also increasing Western support for his prodigal inheritor. What joy for Egypt, the “mother of all of the world”: Jamal Mubarak speaks fluent English, and secretly cooperated with Bush and supported the American invasion of Iraq. History will reveal once written that Arab countries formed secret parts of the coalition forces allied with America in its invasion of Iraq, specially that recent American reports described Jordan as “a secret” member in the coalition of occupation in Iraq. It is thus that Mubarak accelerated the pace of normalization, and it was thus that Egypt’s participation faltered in raising the (whispering) voice against Israel’s aggression and terrorism. It’s truly funny that Egypt’s official media is now hiding behind a repeated crisis threatening Egypt’s “national security”. But is there no one to tell these people that Egypt’s national security was over the day the first Sinai accord was signed? Are they jesting when talking about Egypt’s national security when Israel is besieging Gaza and bombing positions on the border with Egypt? Where was this so-called national security when the Israel government was in an emergency session to look into Egypt’s request for permission to send more Egyptian policemen on the Egyptian side of the border to protect Israel’s security no less? The truth is that Camp David treaty that included both public and secret items have dissolved the concept of an Egyptian national security and raised the matters of Israeli security above everything else. But the Egyptian government is following Sadat’s example: A racist chauvinistic mobilization of the people of Egypt in order for the latter to abandon the Palestinian cause (and making the latter seem like a burden on Egyptian interests) and that hides behind a sectarian mobilization, damaging the national unity in Egypt and unleashing violent Jihadist movements in the Sadat era, even if it satisfied the Arab liberals working for the Saud and (Shakhbout) families.

The media in Egypt does not mention the threat of the state of Israel, which invades, bombs and murders around the clock, to Egypt’s national security. This is while one member from Hezbollah in Egypt became a certain threat to Egyptian national security. The propagandists of Hosni Mubarak did not notice the humiliation incurred by the regime’s allegation about a conspiracy of Hezbollah’s sole member in Egypt. What country is that that is shaken by one man’s conspiracy (whether real or fictional)? The one man conspiracy would have made an excellent title for an Egyptian movie in the 70s. But the Egyptian government does what it must do in order to secure Jamal Mubarak’s succession of his father, and to garner American, Israeli and European support for this succession before any grey hairs appear in Hosni Mubarak’s scalp. Putting his house in order seems to be the priority of “Si Hosni” but he has one problem: his son lacks any legitimacy of any kind even if he is surrounded by fat cats. Jamal Mubarak cannot take any credit for the alleged October victory. The increasing intimacy between the Egyptian regime and Israel threaten the foundations of the legacy that will be handed by Mubarak to his son. The Egyptian media is aware of this, and is thus creating virtual deeds of heroism for Hosni Mubarak. While the Egyptian media was crammed with the news of the dangerous conspiracy planned and carried out by one member of Hezbollah, the Ahram newspaper and others carried headlines about Egyptian pressures and campaigns to resist the judaization of Jerusalem and opposing the building of settlements. Indeed, these are heroic acts by Mohammed Hosni Mubarak. But we heard nowhere about these Egyptian campaigns. Mubarak’s conmen are trying to remind us of the sacrifices by the Egyptian people for Palestine, but the people (in all Arab countries) are one matter and the regimes are another matter. In any case, if Arab regimes had well defended Palestine in 1948 and prevented the establishment of the usurping state, it would have saved its people many sacrifices be it dear or cheap, and many poems! But no doubt that the regimes of Sadat and Mubarak succeeded in building a narrow nationalist identity that previously withered under Nasser, with the latter having succeeded in mobilizing his people with slogans of a quasi-secular pan-Arab identity. Nasser did not separate between the fate of his people and the fate of Palestine, but he damaged both by handing over his army’s capabilities of the King of Drug-induced euphoria, the happy field-marshal. Nasser’s ability to promote a nationalist identity came from self-confidence and awareness of the true nature of his popularity, while both of his successors sought to strengthen their rule with narrow-minded foundations to capture the support of a hungry, tired, overpopulated, irritated and defeated country. It is for this reason that Sadat created the game of the crossing of the canal and the October victory. But of course, one cannot reduce the Egyptian people to the slogans of an unelected regime, but one cannot deny either the ability of regimes – all regimes – to promote countrywide nationalistic slogans such as “Jordan First” and “Lebanon First” or “Wahhabism First”. Even the Azhar’s religious authority was historically a pliable tool of even the British rule, issuing fatwas that urge sacrifices for the sake of Palestine a night before issuing a fatwa permitting the greeting of Shemon Peres as a form of respect. Inflating this narrow countrywide nationalist is an attempt by the regimes which have the support of 100% of all voters (even reaching numbers above 100% as declared by a Syrian interior minister from the fifties) to merge the regime with the dignity of the people, making any attack against the regime by anyone whether inside and especially if outside of the country, an attack against the pride and the dignity of the people. It is for this reason that the Egyptian regime insisted on making the criticisms against it and its declared collaboration, cooperation and even alliance with Israel during the past years, seem like an attack on Egypt itself. Sadat was proficient in playing such tricks, when he turned any opposition against his humiliating peace with Israel into a racist campaign against Egyptians, describing any Egyptians opposed to Camp David as spies and agents of a foreign country. In a similar context, Oussama Saraya is bellowing in a style that makes the Ahmad Sa’id’s remarks seem polite in comparison that “People far and wide know what Egypt does for the sake of Palestinians”.

First of all, notice how Hosni Mubarak becomes a personification of the whole of Egypt. Secondly, it is true that people far and wide know that the Egyptian regime turned the Palestinian cause, previously the corner stone of Egyptian foreign policy, into a marginal issue that falls under the jurisdiction of Egyptian intelligence. People far and wide also know that the Egyptian regime has become a collaborator (in the same manner in which the Jordanian regime was since its inception by British colonialism before being handed over to American colonialism when both the sun and the moon set on British colonialism) with the Israeli scheme to strike at the heart of the Palestinian cause by killing as many Palestinians as possible. People far and wide know that the suffocating siege on Gaza could not have taken place without the complete cooperation with the Egyptian government. But Saray’s pen slipped in his article where he yelled and denounced Hezbollah’s plot to antagonize Israel against Egypt. This is the true nature of the threat against the so-called Egyptian national security. Who would have imagined that a day will come where an Arab regime – especially in Egypt – would accuse Arab opponents of trying to ruin its relations with Israel? What can this ruin mean between an Arab regime and Israel? How is it possible to conciliate even a verbal defense of the bare minimum of the Palestinian people’s rights and the fear of ruined relations with Israel? Did Israel in its history ruin its relations with Arab countries when it invaded or bombed Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan and Syria? The Israeli media is participating in Mubarak’s parade for the bequeathal of his presidency: Shemon Peres now issues decrees in Sunni and Shi’ite jurispendence armed with a Saudi and Azhari sponsorship. Israel respects the Egyptian’s caution not to ruin its relations with the Zionist occupations-state. This is while the Saudi media differs between one prince and another, but Hazim Saghiya (who considered the racism of Sa’id ‘Akl and his alliance with Israel and his invitation to kill Palestinians in Lebanon during the civil war some sort of entertainment) objected to the threats against Egyptian sovereignty, even if he had previously considered the American invasion of Iraq as not violating Iraqi sovereignty. This effectively means that to him, a Hezbollah’s member’s violation of Egyptian sovereignty is more dangerous than the violation of Iraqi sovereignty by the entire American army. Fuad Sanyyra happens to visit Egypt during the crisis: But his visit was private and not connected to the crisis at all. The phone call between Mubarak and Sanyura is not connected to the conspiracy of inducing the ruin of Egypt’s relations with Israel. Sanyura showed his understanding because he too did the impossible before Israel’s war on Lebanon and afterwards to not induce a severance between Lebanon and Israel. His famous tears were in grief over this. The official Arab regime is in consensus that the quarrel between itself and Israel is renounceable and must be avoided, but as for the regime’s bid to agitate sectarian warring and provoking a Palestinian civil war, that is condemnable. You have entered the era of peace and harmony, so lower your heads or bow them all together, lest they bump into the ceiling of National-Countrywide security.