February 13, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 469

The Iraq Crisis (2): The Egyptian Government Press Comments

February 13, 2003
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 469

As it has for the past few months, the Egyptian government press has continued to publish editorials and op-eds opposing the possible upcoming war against Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the U.N. Security Council was rejected by some columnists who claimed that he presented no new information. At the same time, however, other editorials and op-eds have blamed Saddam Hussein and his regime for the deteriorating situation. Such criticism has proliferated recently, as a result of the growing feeling that the war is imminent. The following are excerpts from articles dealing with this subject:

Akhbar Al-Yaum

In the Egyptian government weekly Akhbar Al-Yaum, editor-in-chief Ibrahim Sa'dah wrote: "If the Iraqi president is really interested in his people's welfare, and in the security and stability of his homeland and his nation, he must prove it by taking a new stand and by shaking off the fake arrogance and the false self-aggrandizing. He must take seriously the dangers that lie in wait for him, his regime, and his people from all directions."

"Enough of the contempt for the present and the future of his miserable people that have been deprived of everything. Enough of the past two decades' tyranny, dictatorship, murder, torture, corruption, and destruction. Enough of the ignorance… enough of the infantile television appearances with him laughing, sporting an expensive Cuban cigar, and ridiculing everything being planned for him, his regime, and his people."

"Were the danger of the anticipated military blow limited to toppling the dictatorial, barbaric, and inhuman Baghdad regime, we would not fear. On the contrary – we would support this blow… But the noble goal will not be realized without destroying Iraq and killing many of the miserable, innocent Iraqi people, who are helpless against the regime of Saddam Hussein."

"Had the Iraqi president a minimum of feeling for his people's security and welfare, he would take the opportunity of his life – today rather than tomorrow – to expunge his sins and atone for his crimes. He would sit down in front of the media and announce that he has ordered full and unreserved cooperation with the international inspectors… The ball is now in the Iraqi president's court…"[1]


Editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhuriyya, Samir Ragab, wrote, "How President Mubarak had hoped that the Iraqi people and military would be spared the severe defeat that his government suffered with the battle to liberate Kuwait."

"Hosni Mubarak, with his great political wisdom, his rich military experience and his skill in analyzing the situation correctly and realistically, realized that the battle is not going well for Iraq, in any way, shape, or form, and that it will have negative consequences. Therefore, [he] has used the 'weapon of patience' to the maximum extent – but the other party [i.e. Saddam Hussein] has persisted in plugging his ears and closing his eyes, while deluding himself that victory will be his and that he really does have weapons that will enable him to send Americans back in body bags, as Baghdad was shrieking at that time."

"When the disaster took place [referring to the liberation of Kuwait 11 years ago], events began to unfold… and all President [Mubarak's] predictions came true, on land, on sea, and in the air. The Iraqi army lost its weapons and equipment, and the people were scattered in all directions and lost their honor…"

"Is history repeating itself…? There is evidence that the dangers that lie in wait for the Iraqi people and military now are no less violent than those that awaited them 10 years ago, and perhaps even more extensive…"

"President Mubarak has sent many messages to the Iraqi leaders. He has met with top Iraqi officials – in addition to his speeches, in which he delivered advice, warnings, and calls to adopt a policy of transparency, respect for international legitimacy, actualization of the Security Council resolutions, and exposure of secrets, so as to strip away the U.S.'s excuses so that it will be forced to give up military action and focus on activity through ways of peace…"

"Time is passing fast, and the opportunities are nearly gone. What is preventing the Iraqi leaders from showing documents and proof that will exonerate them and refute the claims of the others [i.e. the Americans]?"[2]

In another article, addressing Powell's Security Council speech, Ragab wrote: "Does the U.S. imagine that by playing these recordings and showing these pictures it will prepare the ground and earn supporters for an attack against Iraq? Does Saddam Hussein imagine that by attacking Colin Powell's words to the Security Council and accusing him of fabricating and spreading lies, he will prevent the attacks on his country?"

"In all honestly, America will not win the support of most of the governments and peoples. [At the same time] Iraq will not become an innocent lamb…"

"The responsibility is Iraq's. It has no choice but to employ a clean, transparent policy and to refrain from dragging its feet. It is enough what Iraqi rulers have done for 34 years. The time has come for them to take the opportunity to rectify what was destroyed during this entire period."[3]

Al-Ahram Al-Arabi

Editor of Al-Ahram Al-Arabi weekly, Osama Saraya, wrote: "… Bush must not accelerate the war, which is being caused by the mistakes and delays of the Iraqi regime and Saddam Hussein… Why won't Saddam Hussein march forward, like the other countries disarmed of weapons of mass destruction, before he drags the region to the edge of the abyss?"[4]


In contrast, Mahmoud Abd Al-Mun'im Murad, a columnist for the Egyptian government daily Al-Akhbar, wrote that it was not logical for the U.S. to send such tremendous forces to fight Iraq. He claimed that the American forces were going to remain in the region to frighten the other countries: "This is an insane plan, and its aim is to turn human beings, all human beings, into mute robots serving the American and the Israeli, without even arguing, resisting, or asking questions… Thus, the Americans will destroy the entire human race. This is a crazy delusion, which will not be realized unless people turn into trained animals."

"If Iraq falls by American and British weapons, other countries with or without oil will fall alongside it. The new map of the world is now spread out on the table, and guarded by Bush's trained dog… In the new century, the human race will not become trained animals or mute robots in the hands of the Americans and the English – who have completely lost control – along with the Israelis, who will ultimately win the big pie baked by Sharon and his ilk."[5]

[1] Akhbar Al-Yaum (Egypt), January 8, 2003.

[2] Al-Gumhuriyya (Egypt), February 9, 2003.

[3] Al-Gumhuriyya (Egypt), January 7, 2003.

[4] Al-Ahram Al-Arabi (Egypt), February 8, 2003.

[5] Al-Akhbar (Egypt), January 9, 2003.

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