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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

An unpublished book by Mostafa Amin on the Suez War’s sixtieth anniversary

Mostafa Amin’s book, has been published in episodic form in order to narrate past events in Akhbar El-Yom between November and early December 1960

Mahmoud El-Wardani, Friday 24 Mar 2017
Mostafa Amin
Mostafa Amin (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Akhtar Asrar Udwan 1956 (The Deadly Secrets of the Tripartite Aggression 1956) by Mostafa Amin, Dar-Akhbar El-Yom Publishing - Kitab Al-Yom series, 2016. pp.160

It is an established truth in international politics that the global order after the Suez War was irrevocably changed from what existed before. Colonial empires such as those of Britain and France collapsed and the United States began its first steps to replace the defunct empires. Formerly colonized countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America subsequently began to rise on the international stage, resulting in the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement and the increasing assertiveness of newly independent nations.

Despite all this, the Suez War’s sixtieth anniversary passed seemingly without anybody taking notice except Dar Akhbar El-Youm, which issued in its monthly series an unpublished book by Mostafa Amin chronicling this monumental event. It is a work of exceptional significance.

Twin brothers Mostafa and Ali Amin are known as the masters of a still-influential journalistic school they established when they founded Akhbar El-Yom newspaper in the 1940s. It is a populist school that relies on scandalous news and flagrantly sensational headlines. It often employs a deliberately shocking style characterized by misleading angles and excessively loose language. This school remained the most influential and marketable among its competitors and its news publications are the highest-grossing.

Mostafa Amin’s book, out this month, has been published in episodic form in order to narrate past events in Akhbar El-Yom between November and early December 1960. The events were written in the form of daily news coverage recording incidents in the diplomatic war between Egypt and the three countries, Britain, France and Israel, which launched the Tripartite Aggression on Egypt and occupied parts of its lands.

The impetus for the war was President Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal in response to the U.S., France and Britain’s joint withdrawal of financing for the High Dam. As the aggression was taking place, according to the Arab League’s Charter a summit was held in Beirut. The primary goal of the summit was to discuss severing ties with Britain and France.   

It seems astonishing that Mostafa Amin waited for four years before publishing his coverage of the summit in Beirut. What was the nature of the mission which he has described as “mysterious, dangerous and secret”? Even more curious is that he stopped abruptly without giving any notice and without finishing what he had started, thereby leaving the events hanging. The newspaper published a brief statement:

"Mostafa Amin’s articles about the summit where Arab monarchs and presidents were present will be postponed until its completion."

Astonishment and questions continue: Why was publishing stopped? Why wasn’t it resumed? What was the purpose of Mostafa Amin remembering only four years later the events he covered, and why didn’t he publish it in book form while he was keen to collect his articles and publish them in several editions? (Copyeditor's note: I am unsure what the intended meaning of this final sentence is.)

Amin narrates in his book disgraceful incidents on the part of Arab heads of state at the time and their attempts to evade what the Arab League’s Charter stipulates. The Charter stipulates that Arab countries sever political and economic relations with aggressor nations.

Amin narrates details of his meetings with Arab monarchs and presidents and the “secret” messages he carried from Nasser to them. As a matter of fact, the messages weren’t secret at all! He asserts that the Arab heads of state were horrified at the prospect of being compelled to act according to the Arab League Charter and thus sever relations with their previous colonizers. It was viewed by these heads of state that the colonizer nations provided an essential buffer to them in their efforts to combat communism.

Meanwhile, the people governed by these heads of state organized demonstrations against the aggression and newspapers were brimmed with protest, demanding that their governments side with Egypt.

Arab monarchs and presidents concluded their summit by issuing the weak, anemic decisions, an example of which was that each member nation send, on its own, a message to the American President Dwight Eisenhower to thank him for his stand against the aggression.

A question remains that surpasses all the aforementioned ones and it is related to an incident that seems to be fabricated, as no published reference book about the Suez War mentions it. As recounted here, the incident involves the alleged shooting down by Jordan of an Israeli aircraft carrying the Israeli Southern Front Commander.

It is further alleged that Jordanian authorities found with him documents proving Israel's “secret” complicity with Britain and France and provides evidence of their collective plotting, which was allegedly to start with Israel’s occupying the Gaza Sector and parts of Sinai.

The questions raised remain pressing: Should what Mostafa Amin published be construed as a part of the continuing wars between Nasser’s regime, which was leading the global national liberation movement, on one hand, and reactionary regimes on the other? Or are there any other hidden reasons?

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