"Foreign fingers" in Egypt's Tahrir sq

Hani Shukrallah , Friday 4 Feb 2011

Conspiracy theories: US and Hizbullah, Israel and Hamas, Iran and the EU all conspire to bring down Mubarak. The Foreigners' witch-hunt has Egypt hovering between democratic renewal and Taliban dark ages

The woman being interviewed, or is it interrogated, on Mehwar TV had her face blurred – a privilege usually reserved for repentant prostitutes, confessing terrorists or deep throat sources revealing information which might put them in danger.

This particular interviewee was of a different order. She was, apparently, making a voluntary confession to the effect that she had been recruited by American intelligence who then proceeded to train her in how to overthrow the Egyptian regime, and to make the nefarious machinations of American spymasters even more sinister, they were using Jewish intelligence officers to do the training.

Now, I have no doubt that intelligence services are able to provide training in sabotage, all manner of spying, terrorism, use of secret ink, taking pictures of secret documents with tiny cameras, and so forth. I cannot however begin to imagine how you would train a young Egyptian woman in overthrowing the Mubarak regime.

Of course, the Americans have their own experience of revolution, so quite possibly the young woman was made to read the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, or maybe instructed in different ways of dumping tea bags into the Nile.

I had dismissed Mehwar TV’s “revelations” as yet another example of the effect of the hallucinogenic substances that the managers and staffs of Egyptian TV have obviously started imbibing, or injecting, since 25 April.

How else could one explain their cameras being constantly turned to an empty stretch of the road, even as hundreds of thousands are standing a mere half an inch turn of the camera lens away.

Or what about the constant hectoring, interminable blathering, by reporters, by anchors, by guests, by countless numbers of callers, all wailing and gnashing their teeth over the havoc and chaos the Tahrir protesters are wreaking on the country, wholly ignoring the fact that a 1.7 million police force had up and disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving homes, properties, and 82 million citizens easy prey to criminal gangs of murderer and looters and thugs. Gangs, moreover, which a substantial body of evidence showed were actually being run by members of that disappeared police force, in close cooperation with the Oligarchs of the ruling party.

How do we explain that in their tear-jerking elegies of the state and the Mubarak regime and equally mournful eulogies of the stability that the insidious agents of chaos in Tahrir had thrown out the national window, while at the same time forgetting that the state they bemoan had shirked the first duty of all states, which is to protect the lives and property of their citizens?

Neither could Egyptian TV, drugged and hyped up, apparently popping both uppers and downers in quick succession, see who was actually attacking whom; it totally escaped its unremittingly chattering anchors, talk show hosts, and armies of voluble, if inarticulate guests, to note the glaring fact that for the duration of Tuesday’s million-person protest not a single incident of violence took place, not a single shop broken into, not a single piece of movable or stationary property was harmed.

Nor did they seem to note that it was only when their - oh so patriotic - throngs came onto the street the next day, driven by their passionate concern for our beloved Egypt and for President Mubarak who has give so much for us (these are almost direct quotes, by the way) – only then did we see Molotov Cocktail bombs being fired, and the killings and wounding of hundreds of the citizens, of this so beloved nation of ours.

Be that as it may, the confessions of the Jewish-trained American agent of revolution were comic. On my Facebook status line I wrote: “Egypt media is proving as senile as their regime handlers”, my terminology somewhat influenced by the occasion. A friend commented: “Yes, I saw it… some light relief in these trying times.”

It was only on the next day that the joke turned sour. First came the attacks on foreign journalists; next came the bizarre interview with the vice-president, bizarre because the interviewer kept insisting on cuing the interviewee, which service the latter really didn’t seem to need at all. Indeed, Soliman, who spoke so rarely over the past several years of public exposure that few Egyptians could identify the sound of his voice, seemed to be making up for lost time.

In the course of the interview, Soliman kept hinting at dark conspiracies by unnamed foreign powers, though the hints seemed on occasion to come pretty close to the US and Israel (ironically, both of which love the man, let alone that Israel is until today practically the only country in the world that is fighting tooth and nail to keep President Mubarak in power).

The interviewer, who is a top Egyptian TV manager, kept jumping on these hints like the answer to a prayer, adding his own little bits of spy savvy, making references to foreigners having been spotted in Tahrir, to which “revelation” I can give full testimony, especially since the foreigners in question were not lurking about, but rather hanging on top of whatever relatively elevated surface they could find, and wielding great big video cameras, even as their equally fair-skinned colleagues were pushing through the crowds with mean black microphones pointed towards all and sundry.

I don’t expect much from the whirling dervishes of Egyptian TV, but I truly hope that the Vice President will come to realize just how dangerous such nonsense can be.

As I was going out of the Ahram building yesterday afternoon I came across a throng of easily recognizable thugs, of the citizen-bashing, Molotov cocktail throwing variety. They had laid siege to some car, which I couldn’t see from the crowds. I approached and asked one of the bystanders what was going on. “They’ve caught a Libyan car, with two Israelis inside,” he told me in all seriousness. The absurdity would have been hilariously funny, had it not been for the unknown fate of the two alleged Israelis, with Gaddafi connections.

Foreigners, meanwhile, have been attacked by similar mobs throughout Cairo, and possibly outside it. And not just foreigners; beware all you fair-skinned Egyptians.

This morning I found out that Hazem Zohny, an immensely talented journalist and a colleague at Ahram Online was attacked by a mob while taking pictures of a fire that broke out in a mall in the Cairo suburb of Sheikh Zayed, very possibly by the self-same hoodlums that had torched the place. Hazem, who thankfully is recovering well from the attack, is fair skinned.

The overzealous students of Mr. Goebbels running our TV networks are not to be taken seriously, for they know not what they do. But is the vice-president willing to pay the price of crushing the revolution, by transforming Egypt into some kind of foreigner-free Taliban enclave?
I certainly hope not.


Short link: