Sunday, January 31, 2010

Occupy in the sky.

This is where Tony was hiding the WMDs

Tony Liar’s appearance before the Iraq Inquiry coincided with the release of this heartbreaking short documentary film on the killing of a nine year-old boy by the Blackwater private security company, and my reading of a book called “In Cairo With Kitchener”, published in 1917.

“In Cairo with Kitchener” is a gem of a book, written before governments had to dress up imperialist ambitions as acts of philanthropy, before they had to go through the tiresome processes of securing a United Nations rubber-stamp for their invasions and justify their actions retrospectively, eight years too late.

“In Cairo” is written by Sydney A. Moseley, a British journalist who spent two years in Egypt, and who is largely motivated by a desire to complain about interference in the publication and content of his book by Lord K himself. Moseley is a name-dropper par excellence and is the type of journalist who likes to shoehorn himself into the story, so this act of censorship seems to have thrilled him.

Mosely writes in the book’s preface that the Al-Shaab newspaper reported that an introduction had been written by Minister of Public Works Ismail Sirry “Pasha”, without Sirry actually having read its contents. Sirry, “having learned that the book contained many reflections on the British Agent [Kitchener]…has gone round telling all those he met that he did read the book before writing the introduction”.

We are told that Sirry did not know that Moseley would take an attitude of “frankness and independence” in his book. References to Kitchener in the edition I read were unreservedly sycophantic, so I can’t understand both what the author means by “frankness and independence” nor what the bloody fuss was about.

In any case, a strange irony has been given to the book, 90 years later. Moseley unwittingly reveals the British occupiers in all their crass, orientalist, arrogance - but he also says a couple (very few, admittedly) of things which still ring true today.

Below are some of Moseley’s thoughts on his sojourn in “the Land of Paradox”, as he insists on calling Egypt.

“There are evils in Egypt which exist not so much as a result of British policy, but because of the crass stupidity and overwhelming conceit - which always go together – of individual officials. These persons, some of whom I mention in the following pages, constitute themselves as modern Egyptian gods and expect idolatry of Ra in the twentieth century. Those who have been inured to the enervating and narrowing atmosphere of the Land of Paradox accept this well enough. The few bolder, who do not go so far as to worship, take care, nevertheless, not to blame where they are unable to praise.” - Note the separation between “individual acts” and “policy”, a favourite stratagem of the politician. No comment on “modern Egyptian gods”.

“’Robbers and blackmailers are, in Egypt, treated more fairly than editors accused of infringing the Press Law.’”
“The suppression of newspapers and newspaper men in Egypt is nothing new”. - Ya ragel.

“This unparalleled interest in his [Lord Kitchener’s] coming can only be set down to the reputation and prestige he had gained on the banks of the Nile. There could, indeed, be no plainer proof of the old saying that nothing strikes the Oriental imagination so much as success in war”. – Obama still busy trying to strike that oriental imagination.

“It is unusual for an Egyptian crowd to cheer” – he forgot to add, “under occupation”.

“It is true that on this score [Egypt’s 1st parliament] criticism has not been lacking; but while one who desires to record a situation as it actually is must examine such criticism, it should be borne in mind that a first parliament, like the first of lesser institutions, must take time before it can be rid of its defects. Only time and British representatives can do that”. - vomit.

Moseley wasn’t entirely oblivious though, and devotes an entire chapter to the consideration of “Why the Englishman is disliked”.

“The statement has been made by bewildered [LOL] British students of Egyptian politics that the Egyptian does not like the Englishman. This charmingly frank and innocent conclusion is arrived at with a tinge of bitterness…
After all we have done for them – which they fully admit – they will be glad to see the back of us [fancy that!].
Strangely enough, these writers have said nothing of the Briton not liking the Egyptian. Perhaps these students failed to notice the stand-offishness of the superior British official towards the common Egyptian. If they had given heed to this obvious fact they would have saved themselves a host of doubts and theories. The British have a natural aptitude for governance abroad [they beat insubordinate natives round the head with their stiff upper lip]. This must have originated before our advent in Egypt ; for, well as we have done there, we could have accomplished much more – the friendship of the Egyptian, for instance – if we had been wiser in our choice of civil servants. As it is, we appear to have been at pains to send our snobs to Egypt. The Land of Paradox has become the City of British Snobs.”- Again, the policy isn’t wrong, IT’S THE INDIVIDUALS. Got it???

“The fact is, the cringing and abjectness of the native have transformed many responsible Britons in Egypt from masters tolerant towards their inferiors into the kind of tyrant who recalls Egypt’s darkest history”.- It’s the natives’ faults, just like in modern day occupations where occupying troops commit atrocities because of the pressure of having to fight those ungrateful recalcitrant natives. Btw Moseley thinks that Egypt’s “darkest history” was under the Turks, who he intensely dislikes.

“The more general type of man who schemes for an “unfettered” Egypt is generally the bloated half- Turk, half-something else, whose interests, in the main, are mercenary and nothing else. He has actually no more aesthetic sentiment about the political state of Egypt than a gamoose. Let him obtain unlimited fodder at the expense of others, and he will content. It was individuals of this type who wrote the pages of Egypt’s blackest history. Heaven forfend that we should permit him to hold sway again!” – heaven forfend indeed!

“Consider yourself very fortunate that you, an outsider, should have been chosen for this wonderfully good fortune [of the British occupation. I kid you not]. You know that the reason why we sent great Englishmen thousands of miles from our own misery in order to keep yours was because circumstances, in the very inspiring form of finance, necessitated those early steps…Since he was already there the Englishman thought he might just as well knock the country into shape; for the surroundings, after all, were good to look at and the climate most inviting.” – That is: right we’re here robbing the country, let’s build a few roads.

““Self-indulgence and corruption have eaten the heart of the Turkish oligarchy,” wrote Lord Milner.
“It is the curse of the whole vast region which still lies under the blight of the Ottoman dominion, that the governing classes are devoid of the morality which essential to governing well”.
That class would again govern Egypt if England left Cairo to-day”.

I'm always astonished that countries formerly occupied by the British didn't collectively invade Britain and beat its rulers around the head with the latters' sense of entitlement.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Erring on the side of distortion

Mubarak decided to make national police day a public holiday this year. While national police day isn’t a recent invention, this is the first year that the Egyptian public gets a day off out of it. My own explanation for this sudden act of lie-in generosity is that Mubarak - inspired by countries which have several bank holidays - decided that there is no reason why Egypt shouldn’t have public holidays named after one of its most hated institutions.

The idea of a national holiday in honour of the police is so unchallengeably farcical that it is hard to believe that the authorities penciled it in the national calendar with a straight face. Tellingly, Interior Minister Habib El-Adly said during a TV appearance on Sunday that Hosny Mubarak decided to make it a national holiday so that the sacrifices made by Egyptian policemen against the British occupation wouldn’t be forgotten. Past glories are extremely useful for filling in the blanks of today.

I can’t resist a few words about the El-Adly appearance. He was interviewed by Mofeed Fawzy, one of my favourite presenters.

مفيد فوزي و هو بيحاور صباعه

Fawzy presents a programme called “Talk of the Town” in which he barrels around Egypt being pompously sycophantic with anyone more famous than him, and humiliating and badgering the proletariat. I first encountered him during a fit of insomnia some years back when I didn’t have a satellite dish, and was suddenly confronted with this troll-man at 2 a.m., bearing down on prisoners in Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab prison. I particularly remember that he interrupted one startled prisoner doing a timed exam in order to chastise him about his life of crime and lecture him on the dangers of recidivism.

There was none of that with our Habib, of course. The interview was conducted in a room resembling the Mohamed Soghayar hair salon waiting area, which we were told is in the Interior Ministry. Habib and Mofeed were seated on chairs on a shag pile rug. The rug resembled, to some extent, Mofeed’s hairpiece, though of a lighter hue. Mofeed spat out questions at Habib in the unique fashion for which he is famous, namely verbosely and interminably, and often in highfaluting modern standard Arabic.

Habib meanwhile spent practically the entire interview trying to make his eyebrows reach his (rapidly retreating – even his hair is scared of the police) hairline, while giving circuitous and nonsensical responses. Ever eager, Mofeed finished off many of Habib’s sentences; such is the time that the latter spent saying “errrrr”.

I had always understood that holding public office requires a degree of fluency, and dare I say charisma, but should have learnt better after John Major. There is also a major difference between holding, and impounding, public office, as Habib, who has been in the job since 1997, might like to errrrr about if asked.

Needless to say that since the interview was broadcast on state television, Habib is not pressed on anything (even though Mofeed regards himself as iconoclastic, and the Jeremy Paxman of Egyptian television). You can see the load of pie in the sky codswallop Habib comes out with here (apologies for linking to myself, I can’t find anything else in English). I was astonished though, by his frank admission that security bodies re-detain individuals given court release orders where these bodies “know” that the individual in question poses a threat. As I understand it, most countries either deny that their security bodies do this, or locate such practices on distant, non-touristic, Caribbean islands - so as to avoid contaminating their justice systems.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Mr Useful and the Qatari Channel of Discord

Al-Ahram published one of its gems on Saturday, an article which forgets it is an article and is essentially just a propaganda fax from the control room with a bit of filling in the middle.

It’s written, sort of, in the form of a long speech made by Dr. Mofeed Shehab, minister of legal affairs, except that in the middle it references Shehab himself, and has the feel of a man in a raincoat muttering to himself in the corner of a pub about the rapture.

Here Shehab manages to combine some of Egypt’s favourite bête noires in a long tirade which is ostensibly a response to the iron wall Egypt is building on its border with Gaza.

It’s a bit like when you ask for the Bee Gee’s Saturday Night Fever at a disco, and the DJ decides to get creative and plays a medley of their greatest hits.

I had a laugh reading it and translated some of it. I left out some of the duller parts, as well as a long bullet-point list of the many plots planned by those dastardly Palestinians in the motherland, foiled by our glorious security bodies.

All the stuff outside the square brackets is a translation of what’s written in the ‘article’. Content inside the square brackets is a mixture of Shehab’s thoughts - which I sucked out of his head using my superpowers - and me just saying any old shit.

(And I’m not a professional bloody translator so don’t start).


During all the crises confronting the Egyptian state, we search for a means of managing national issues in the face of campaigns targeting political decisions, such as what happened two weeks ago in relation to the engineering installations on our eastern borders [GIANT FUCKING UNDERGROUND IRON WALL], the aid convoys and other controversial topics.

Media treatment – and I mean here the television programmes and satellite channels – has disappeared from the scene, and has not performed the full role we want and wish for. It’s true that a large number of Arab satellite channels have been established, at the head of which is of course the Qatari channel of discord [THE DEMONIC AL-JAZEERA] itself, which has installed itself as a sovereign ruler on our land and as usual spread its anti-state and anti-regime poison [AIRED OPINIONS OTHER THAN THOSE HELD BY THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT] in order to plant discord and inflame the Egyptian and Arab street with the aim of causing a clash with official institutions [QUESTIONING OF THE OFFICIAL LINE].

It launched its attack on Egypt just as it did during the barbaric attacks on Gaza a year ago. Its programmes, news bulletins, correspondents and guests – well-known and carefully chosen – were all used to attack Egypt and even to cast doubt on its judiciary, as a dishonoured Nasserist [DOES ANYONE KNOW WHO THIS IS?] did while discussing the public prosecutor on the channel of discord last Tuesday. It didn’t of course occur to the presenter Lina Zahreddin to ask him about the extent of the independence of the Egyptian judiciary!!

This presenter and her channel and her bosses didn’t utter a single word in condemnation of the arms, rockets and smart bombs sent to Israel to be used against Gazans from Qatar’s many bases. The channel of discord is an Israeli tool par excellence; it took the news about the Egyptian building works from the Israeli media [ONLY THE EGYPTIAN GOVT IS ALLOWED TO DEAL DIRECTLY WITH ISRAEL, NAMELY IN THE FORM OF CUPS OF TEA AND LAUGHS WITH NETANYAHU] and started formulating its usual conspiracy theories [WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY NOT WHAT I AM DOING].

The Egyptian media meanwhile has not performed its role of countering this and presenting the state’s position and plans in full [VOMITING OUT THE PARTY LINE]. It has been unable to answer the doubters and those with interests and agendas who call themselves Arab nationalists. These individuals and their relations and sources of funding must be exposed before public opinion. States bodies have many examples of these individuals. People who support Iran and Hamas at the expense of our nation must be exposed [. There cannot be a single second of doubt that the people of Gaza are not more important that Egyptians. It is true that we stand with Gaza [BEHIND OUR GIANT WALL], but the priority is Egyptians [WHOSE LAST NAME IS MUBARAK].

The armed forces are implementing the engineering installations [BERLIN WALL] in order to improve Egypt’s border with Gaza. It is being carried out as part of a plan aimed at securing Egypt’s borders and ensuring the safety of its land and people [WHO ARE FACED WITH THE TERRIFYING DANGER OF GAZANS BREAKING THROUGH THE BARRIER IN ORDER TO GO SHOPPING]. Dr Mofeed Shehab said that the installations being created by the armed forces is part of its Constitutional responsibility to protect the country and its land and ensure its security.

These installations are not new but rather a continuation of development in this area. Current events gave impetus to them – it is enough to consider what the world witnessed on 23 January 2008 when tens of thousands of Palestinians stormed the Rafah Crossing [AND WENT SHOPPING], and in 2006 when armed men stormed the cement barrier on the border and destroyed a large section of it. I ask all Egyptians and nationalists: do you accept the violation of your country’s sovereignty , and is there a country in the world which leaves its border open to anyone coming and going and abusing it as if we are fair game for anyone?! To anyone with a critical mind or in collusion against their country [QUESTIONING BUILDING A GIANT FUCKING WALL IN ORDER TO DESTROY TUNNELS WHICH PROVIDE BASIC GOODS TO A PEOPLE UNDER SIEGE], I ask: Why do you defend those who kill and blow themselves up in tourist resorts in Sharm El-Sheikh and Taba and Dahab and even El-Azhar [BECAUSE IF YOU ARE AGAINST US YOU SUPPORT TERRORISM. BUSH EL EBN SAID SO].

Those who spread discord and ignite fires forget that Gaza is still under occupation according to the provisions of the 1907 Hague Convention. It has not been liberated and Israel governs everything within it, its ports of entry [WHAT WAS THAT YOU WERE SAYING ABOUT SOVEREIGNTY] and movement in and out of it. Individuals looking for revenge against their country close their eyes to the real issue of who is controlling Gaza and refusing conciliation with the people of their country.

They are the real reason – the crossing was fully open until the coup by Hamas against legitimate rule in July 2007 [WHICH IS WHAT THE NDP CALLS ELECTIONS]. Hamas is choking Gaza’s people and Israel is helping it in this. Egypt however has never tarried in its role and has never been late in sending aid across the Rafah Crossing. Goods are piling up in Gaza, especially via the Rafah Crossing and even via the tunnels, and Hamas imposes customs taxes on everything smuggled in and keeps this money for itself [WHEREAS WE JUST STEAL LAPTOPS IN AIRPORTS].

*But why isn’t the Rafah Crossing kept open all the time during the siege of Gaza?
* What is Egypt’s interest in closing the Crossing?

People who pose this question are waiting for an opportunity to attack the country and want people to believe that Egypt is taking part in the siege on Gaza [BECAUSE IF YOU QUESTION US YOU ARE AGAINST US]. Unfortunately everyone who asks this question has an answer for it. They have heavy consciences, they don’t follow God’s will, they violate the truth and mislead public opinion and fabricate [AND STEAL LITTLE GIRL’S SWEETS IN THE PLAYGROUND] for the following reasons:

1. Hamas’ coup is the reason for the closure of the crossings, including the Rafah Crossing.
2. Egypt is committed to not opening the border formally because of the absence of a legitimate authority and, in compliance with the 2005 treaty, in order to protect Palestinian unity and avoid giving Israel the pretext to shirk its obligations in the Strip in its capacity as an occupying power.
3. To stop Israeli ambitions and plans to divide Gaza from the rest of Palestine; Gaza – the West Bank – East Jerusalem.
4. The Rafah Crossing is for people and not goods.
5. Egypt is applying pressure for the other crossings into Gaza controlled by Israel to remain open. Egypt has nothing to do with these crossings and they are: Karem Abu Salem, Erez, Kesoufeem [sp.?], Sufa, Karni and Nahal Oz.
6. The flow of aid through the crossing has not halted and Egypt has facilitated in all ways possible the passage of aid caravans in conformity with the rules set by Egypt.
7. Every country in the world protects its sovereignty and ensures the security of its land in cooperation with its neighbours. No state accepts the infringement of its laws, and it punishes those who do infringe them.
8. The attack on Egypt is organised. Israel was not subject to a similar attack by Arab satellite channels and some politicians and opposition figures when it built its racist wall [AT LEAST NOT HERE IN LA LA LAND]. This places all of these people in the same basket with regional powers who have adopted the inflammatory message against Egypt [DOCTOR THE MONSTERS ARE COMING].

These Egyptian measures are aimed at protecting our interests and our citizens against danger. They are necessarily and most definitely against the interests of Israel, which wants to push Gazans into Sinai where they will become refugees like Palestinians dispersed in several Arab countries and then the story will be over forever [AS HAPPENED OF COURSE WHEN THE ‘TENS OF THOUSANDS’ OF GAZANS STORMED THE BORDER IN 2008].

The media lacked information and the truth as it talked about the French people [THERE WERE ANOTHER 41 NATIONALITIES REPRESENTED IN THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH BUT I WILL CONVENIENTLY IGNORE THIS] who came to Egypt ostensibly for tourism but who in fact had other motives - going to Gaza [SHOCK HORROR. IS THERE A SPECIFIC VISA FOR ‘GOING TO GAZA’?]. There has been a plan to deceive, and all the media fell for it. Most of these French people were Algerian women carrying French nationality [THIS IS COMPLETE TWADDLE BUT INDULGE ME] who took advantage of the protests for Gaza [TWADDLE DUM TWADDLE DEE]. These Algerian women are carrying the message of the Algerian media from the heart of Cairo [T WORD, AGAIN]. They appealed to human emotion but there was a political aim behind their actions. We all remember what happening in Khartoum and the consequences after the match on November 18 [A LOVELY DISTRACTION FROM HOW CRAP THE GOVERNMENT IS]

In this way Algerian women came to Egypt with French passports and in their hearts they have taken a position against Egypt [EL TWADDALO, AGAIN. IF IT WAS TRUE, IT WOULD AGAIN BE A REMINDER THAT EGYPTIANS AND ALGERIANS REALLY DO HAVE MUCH IN COMMON].

The 3rd lifeline convoy [Viva Palestina] and what happened afterwards is part of this outrageous role. There was never, at any time, an objection to the convoy’s entering Gaza – rather, there was a warm welcome [WARM AS IN STUCK UNDER THE SUN IN AQABA] with faith in Egypt’s role in reducing Palestinian suffering. However, the arrangements for the convoy made since August were carried out without Egypt being supplied with any information [THE REST OF THE WORLD KNEW BUT NEVER MIND]. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry, via its Embassy in London requested the convoy organisers – and at their head George Galloway – for complete coordination, but they carried on as if their entry into Gaza will be against the wises of the Egyptian state, and despite the prior notification that aid will be brought in via the port of El-Arish.

The operation’s organisers took this lightly, and decided to continue their journey via Aqaba demanding that they enter via Nuweiba. They made arrangements with a number of Arab and international media outlets, and corresponded via the Internet [GOSH!] in order to put Egypt under international pressure. The state refused to go back on its position [HEAR US ROAR].