Monday,20 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1165, (19 - 25 September 2013)
Monday,20 November, 2017
Issue 1165, (19 - 25 September 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Mubarak speaks

After two years of silence toppled president Hosni Mubarak is back in the news, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Following the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in June it became commonplace to hear comparisons being made between Morsi and his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. Nor was it rare to come across expressions of sympathy for Mubarak. Compared to Morsi, some argue, Mubarak was a veritable paragon, at least in terms of defending national security.

Over the past week Mubarak has been in the headlines proper as leaked records of conversation between the deposed president and his doctor at Tora prison have been published.

“Mubarak says what many Egyptians want to hear at this critical time,” claims activist Tarek Al-Khouli. “He stresses that national security is in danger of being compromised and that Hamas wants to undermine Egypt’s military in order to tighten its hold over Sinai.”

Mubarak is reported as complaining that the plot to oust him was initiated in 2005, instigated by Washington after he refused to accept any concessions regarding Sinai.

The former president was quoted as saying that the US was responsible for spreading the rumour that his son was being groomed to take over the presidency.

“Why would I want my son to be the president, I understand very well that ruling this country is a difficult task and only a military leader can do the job,” Mubarak is claimed to have said.

Mubarak added that initially he thought army chief General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood until he proved to be a sharp-witted politician.

“After 4 July Al-Sisi proved that he is no pushover but a good man.”

Al-Sisi, who overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July, served as Mubarak’s military intelligence chief.

The ousted leader also accused supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood of receiving money to hold sit-in protests in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adaweya and claimed Sinai has been “ruined” after Morsi randomly released “terrorist” prisoners. He also accused some younger tribesmen in Sinai of aiding jihadists.

But the real culprits, says Mubarak, are Hamas.

“Hamas is behind all of it, they are responsible for the Rafah massacre in August 2012 and they helped Morsi to escape from prison in January 2011 and now they are helping the terrorist groups in Sinai,” Mubarak said.

He added that Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had once suggested resettling Gazans in Sinai.

“Netanyahu suggested relocating Gazans to Sinai. I refused and told him to forget it,” claims Mubarak.

On ongoing Brotherhood demonstrations Mubarak said that “if Al-Adli [jailed former Interior minister Habib Al-Adli] was out of prison now he would take care of everything in three days.”

Mubarak denies rumours that former General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman was murdered, pointing out that Suleiman had long been ill. “I know that Suleiman was travelling a lot because he was receiving medical treatment. He was not killed in Syria as rumours say. He travelled first to the UAE and then to the United States.”

Mubarak also claims Riyadh offered to the Egyptian government $6 billion under SCAF in exchange for allowing Mubarak to take up asylum in Saudi Arabia but that he refused to go.

The leaked conversations, says Al-Khouli, are an attempt to “polish the image of the former regime in the eyes of the public”.

“What Mubarak is basically saying is that there was no revolution and that the US and the Muslim Brotherhood stage-managed the uprising. This is exactly what the old regime wants the people to believe.”

Since his removal on 11 February 2011 Mubarak has given a single interview, to Al-Arabiya TV, in which he denied all charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters during the 25 January Revolution.

“I think it was interesting to hear him, he has a lot to say and much advice to give. Mubarak ruled Egypt for 30 years, we should not forget that,” says Ashraf Saad, a 30 year old engineer.

Mustafa Hafez, a 27-year-old accountant, believes that people should not waste their time on Mubarak or Morsi but focus instead on building up Egypt which, he says, has almost “collapsed”.

Tamarod spokesperson Hassan Shahin argues that Mubarak has failed to take on board that it is not easy to deceive the Egyptian people.

“Egyptians have no doubts that 25 January was a revolution against authoritarianism. They took to the street again on 30 June because they felt that their revolution was in danger,” he says.

Mubarak may get some temporary sympathy from many Egyptians, adds Shahin, but this does not mean that they have given up their dreams of a modern democratic state.   

Following the initial publication of the conversations, Mubarak’s lawyer Farid Al-Deeb said he would take legal action against Al-Youm Al-Sabei newspaper to prevent it publishing more.

“These conversations were recorded without the permission of my client. The doctor who recorded these conversations was allowed to talk to Mubarak only to test his hearing abilities,” says Al-Deeb.

Al-Youm Al-Sabei’s Editor-in-Chief Khaled Salah insists the newspaper is violating no laws. “We simply got these records from our sources and published them. We did not record ourselves, and publication is not a crime,” claims Salah.  

A selection of the recordings were published on Sunday, the day after Mubarak’s scheduled re-trial was adjourned to 19 October. Mubarak is accused of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters during the 25 January Revolution. In June 2012 he received a lifetime jail sentence which he appealed.

Presiding judge Mahmoud Al-Rashidi has ordered a media blackout on upcoming sessions in which former intelligence chief Murad Muwafi, former member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Major General Hassan Al-Roweini, former prime minister Atef Ebeid, former interior minister Ahmed Gamaleddin and current Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail are expected to give evidence. In addition to Mubarak, defendants include his sons Alaa and Gamal, longtime interior minister Habib Al-Adli and six of his aides. The fugitive businessman Hussein Salem is also among the defendants.

Mubarak’s supporters gathered outside the Police Academy on the outskirts of Cairo where the trial was being held. Mubarak was transported to the Police Academy via helicopter as per previous sessions.

Wearing dark glasses and sitting upright on a wheelchair, Mubarak attended his second trial along with his two sons.

Mubarak’s re-trial comes after a series of startling political developments including the ouster of Morsi on 3 July. Morsi and 33 other Brotherhood officials now stand accused of collaborating with the Palestinian Hamas movement to storm Egyptian prisons during the heyday of the 25 January Revolution and spread havoc.

In addition to espionage, Morsi faces charges of inciting violence and killing peaceful protesters. Fourteen members of the Muslim Brotherhood are being tried with Morsi on the same charges.

Allegations against Morsi relate to the killing of protesters outside Al-Ittihadiya presidential palace in December last year, while he was still in power. No date has been set for the trial of Morsi who has been kept at a secret location since his ouster.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm daily the trials of Morsi and Mubarak will take place in the Police Academy in New Cairo district. The paper reported a senior judicial source as saying that the Ministry of Interior has already started to prepare one of its conference rooms for the trail.

Neither Morsi nor Mubarak’s trial is attracting much public attention. Egyptians, says political analyst Amr Al-Bakli, are instead focussing on the economic situation.

“Public opinion gave up following the first trial of Mubarak. People believe legal proceedings will lead nowhere and he will be set free in the end,” says Al-Bakli.

Lawyer Nasser Amin agrees. The public, he says, has lost faith in the legal process ever uncovering what happened during the revolution or how so many protesters were murdered. 

 

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