Monday, December 29, 2008

Mahmud Zahhar and Egyptian Intelligence

A foreign correspondent sent me this (I am citing with his/her permission and he/she wants to remain anonymous): "I think you would find interesting an encounter I had with Mahmoud al-Zahar in March 2008. It so happened that al-Zahar was there for a funeral at the same time I was visiting. I asked my friend to ask him for an interview for the ... newspaper I wrote for at the time, but he declined. I still got to meet him and had a short conversation with him. In it what struck me most was his naive understanding of his relationship with his "friend" Omar Sleiman. First I thought he was joking or just making a polite "change the subject" comment when i asked about the role of the Egyptian intelligence services, but when he really insisted that I believe that Omar Sleiman was a "good human being" who truly "loves the palestinians" -- I understood that Hamas was doomed to failure. This was two months after Hamas had blown up the (prison) wall on the border and the Egyptian Repression services were cracking down on opposition figures in preparation for the municipal elections in April, and arresting almost all of the Muslim Brotherhood candidates, The borderwall was still the hottest political topic in Egypt at the time and (of course nobody gave a shit about the incoming rigged elections) the general mood was undoubtedly supportive of the Palestinian action. Except, I noticed, when I spoke to men working in the various security services. When I spoke to them about Palestine and Palestinians their response was as if I had mentioned enemies of the state, as if I had mentioned Israel and not a brethren people. Of course, it is understandable, as the Palestinians and the rest of the poor people in Egypt threaten their unlawful and -ethical authority. That´s why I found it so astounding that al-Zahar didn´t understand Sleimans´ real intentions, because not one army or policeman ever even tried to hide from me their disgust for the Palestinian struggle. Al-Zahar spoke ignorantly about Egypt like one of the really poor and uneducated ghalaba - which there are so many of in Egypt - that have never ever had a conversation with a person from the elitist authoritarian class. He had no idea of the disdain the Egyptian elite had towards Hamas and their unstabilizing affect on Egypt. And this is the guy Hamas appointed as foreign minister for the Palestinian struggle, a guy who doesn´t even understand his own mother´s country, and apparently doesn´t even believe in the theory of class struggles. How sad this all is. But Palestine shall overcome!! "