Sunday, April 24, 2005

Husni Mubarak: Egyptian Air Force Command, Heart of Steal, and Heroism. To boost his sagging image and fortunes inside Egypt, Egyptian president Husni Mubarak (whose smiling face reminds Egyptians of this), has decided to take the propaganda offensive. He gave long hours of footage of interviews to former Orbit TV host, `Imad Id-Din Adib: the series will be running on Egypt TV and Al-Arabiyya TV. I saw Part I (not to be confused with Part 54). Mostly, Mubarak wants to remind young Egyptians of his heroism in the 1973 war. I hate official and non-official Arab claims about the 1973 war. So eager are Arab regimes for victories, that they have to draw on past (invented) victories form 32 years ago. And Adib is as sharp and penetrating an interviewer, and as challenging to people in power, as is...Larry King. One of his questions to Mubarak (I am not making this up): How do you reconcile between your firmness, strength, punctuality, and discipline, and between your good-heartness, civility, good-naturalness on the other hand? ("Experience", answered Mubarak). All of the first part dealt with Mubarak's heroism in the Air Force. I hate how Arab official and non-official propaganda talk about 1973 victory. What victory? Israel almost overran Syria and Egypt. Of course, in the beginning, both Syria and Egypt were winning, and Syrian and Egyptian troops fought very very well, but Egypt did not want to proceed, and Egyptian troops hunkered down, which only gave Israel the advantage especially after the beginning of the hitherto largest airlift in human history, when Nixon told Kissinger: "give them all that we have." And those regimes were and are more concerned over their own survival that they were and are willing to sacrifice the safety of troops and sovereignty of land to stay in power. And why this going back to this war that took place more than 30 years ago? For pure propaganda and the hope for additional political legitimacy--futile no doubt. And let me give you this simple lesson in Arab politics: from 1948 until 1973, the Syrian and Egyptian regimes oppressed their people under the pretext of preparing to fight Israel. And from 1973 until now, the Egyptian and Syrian regimes have oppressed their people under the pretext of having achieved the (bogus) victory of 1973. Adib at one point prefaced a question by "I apologize for this, but..." So you would assume a tough question is finally coming. Then Adib tossed the question: "this iron personality, which does not get frightened, does not despair, does not get depressed, etc, where is that from?" But the funniest part of me was the venue. They conducted most of the interview in a "secret" location and then settled in "the secret" Egyptian Air Force Command Center. What was striking was how unbusy that super secret center was. No phones were ringing, no lights were blinking, and no people were even visible in the background, and no sounds were audible. Only once I heard a background sound: I could decipher the words of the Israeli Minister of Defense yelling through a speakerphone: "Lower your voice Mubarak." Adib asked him about the military significance of Allahu Akbar (and it was the theme chant for the program--marathon interview, titled: A Word for History. Adib is famous for crying publicly when the rich and famous die. He cried publicly when actor Ahmad Zaki died, and he cried repeatedly when "his friend" Rafiq Hariri died. He went to Lebanon, with a TV crew on hand, and recited Qu'an on Hariri grave. There was no dry eye in..anybody's pocket that day. Funny, when Part I ended, the credit included "Director of orchestra" for the interview. And Arab "news" media dare to mock Fox News????