No need for enemies
Sir-- President Mubarak's visit to the three emerging economies, Russia, China and Kazakhstan, in order to open new horizons economically and politically, unveils a new dynamic which will be successful only with an aggressive change in our foreign policy, including amending our peace treaty with Israel and putting an end to our strategy that the US is our number one friend. We don't want a friend that blatantly sticks its nose in our internal affairs. We don't want a friend that provides Israel with sophisticated weapons to go ahead killing our brothers in Palestine, exploits the Darfur crisis for its own aims, prevents any attempt to stop Israel's bloody war against our brothers in Lebanon and covets other countries' resources, particularly in the Gulf.
While deaths destabilise Iraq, US troops are busy torturing innocent detainees and protecting oil fields. Look at any civil war or conflict or even political disagreement in any nation and you will find that the US was the driving force behind it. Hence, we urge our government to redraw our foreign policy and cut back overall support for the US in its so-called war on terror, including diplomatic and intelligence-sharing cooperation. Enough of friendships which equal nothing except a zero with no other figure before it.
Denial has ended
Sir-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's departure was overdue. Rumsfeld refused before the war to make plans for the stabilisation and reconstruction of post-Saddam Iraq. He believed the task would be easy and that there would be no need for a prolonged US military presence in the country. He was proven utterly wrong, but refused to acknowledge it. As long as Rumsfeld was in charge of the Pentagon, the political debate about what to do in Iraq was stifled.
His departure will not change the situation on the ground, but it will end the denial. Recognising the reality that Iraq is in danger of collapsing into bloody chaos would be an improvement on the policy of pretending it is not. Call it a triumph of American understanding, the great American people taking more than three years to wake up to the sordid reality of the Bush administration's Iraq misadventure. If the people of Iraq were to write the script, they would call it a crime against humanity. After all, if a million wantonly dead does not qualify as such, what does? But since it is the United States that's doing the writing, a more cautious use of words will have to suffice.
There were other issues in this American mid-term election -- corruption, stories of sleaze and scandal in the Republican- dominated Congress -- but Iraq was at the top, giving the Republican Party the "thumping" it has received. The Democratic Party controls the House of Representatives decisively and also will control the Senate, 51-49. Although the polls largely had it right, one person who seems surprised by the outcome is George Bush. You could see it in his post-election press conference. He said the right things but the expression on his face, and his grim attempts at laughter said it all. He was shaken and for once the White House press corps, which before and after the Iraq invasion had set new records in outright servility, was being somewhat bold. America has woken up but, by God, it has taken its time doing so.
Sir-- 'A Moment of Revelation' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 1-7 November) by Mohamed Hassanein Heikal is a worthy tribute to the unity of the Egyptian people and its leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser during the Suez crisis. Heikal was at the helm and his role as minister of culture helped register this tribute as a political victory over the Tripartite Aggression on Egypt for daring to own their own Suez Canal. I agree with him that it was a political victory, but do not agree that it was a military victory. He implies that since, "the British destroyed their copy of the protocol, but the Israelis preserved theirs among the personal papers of David Ben-Gurion," then he can make the same conclusion reached by the Israelis that the Suez war was a military defeat for the collusion between Britain, France and Israel. As an Egyptian living through this crisis, I felt it was a humiliating military defeat as well. I knew some of the soldiers returning from Sinai and how totally devastated they were. I knew that the media tried to cover it up with all sorts of national songs implying that we won. It was a military defeat and in a sense a political one as well. Nasser is not to blame for this. He stated his goals and aspirations well, and the case for the nationalisation of the Suez Canal was made by reputable international lawyers. Yet, it resulted in the United States taking over the role of Europe. But Instead of the good old Uncle Sam who bestows assistance to developing countries, there is the superpower who dictates the course of history for the whole world. The US decided there and then that it will become more decisive in facing the Israel-Palestine issue.
The Arabs will have to accept Israel or else. In fact Heikal said as much, when he disclosed in one of his memoirs that the US has been trying to force Israel on the Arabs since King Farouk. Now the Bush administration has taken the Zionist, neo-conservative cause with Israel blatantly and unabashedly. The question of security for Israel turned into an indictment of the Arabs as terrorists who were trying to push Israel into the sea.
We need to look at our history with a self- critical eye in terms of the Suez crisis. It was neither a political nor a military victory, and yet as an Egyptian I raise my hat to a great leader like Nasser. There has never been a more dedicated Arab leader since.
Sir-- As with the equivalent in many other countries, Article 76 of the Egyptian constitution is intended to maintain power in the hands of the elite and to identify supporters of parties and independents ('The article that never goes away' Al-Ahram Weekly 1-7 November). Those who hope for a transition to democracy should not hold their breaths; the reality is, all political parties are controlled by the sources of election campaign funding and all policies are imposed on the electorate. This is the opposite of democracy. This constraint applies also to independent candidates who purport to make decisions on behalf of their electorates. Only those candidates who bond themselves in writing, to convey to parliament the documented informed consensus of their respective electorates, are engaging in genuine democracy. For Egyptians who despair of achieving the "democracy" of the West, don't feel too bad. In Australia, criticism of the government is now an act of sedition, and the formation of new political parties is banned and old smaller parties are deregistered. There are no democracies in the world today. However, you may yet be the first in modern times and there is no reason why a Muslim nation should not lead the way back to democratic government.
Sir-- The front page of your paper shows a photo of Palestinians suffering under Israeli occupation ( Al-Ahram Weekly 9-15 November). I can't help but notice that almost all your cover photos show Arabs suffering at the hands of Americans or Israelis, even though the majority of injustices against Arabs are committed by other Arabs. The same is true for Muslims. Why not show photos of those who are suffering in Darfur along with photos of those causing the suffering?