In the turmoil that continues to rock Egypt, demonstrators carried banners advertising their demands; some asked where were the bread, freedom and social justice promised by the new regime; others denounced the regime and called for its fall; yet others promised a permanent revolution and threatened retributions against anti-revolutionary forces.
One of the most unexpected demands was formulated by a protester partaking in a demonstration in Port Saeed. The demonstrators were protesting the death sentences handed down by a Cairo court against individuals found guilty in the Port Saeed football massacre. A television reporter asked this protester to explain his grievances. He denounced the corruption and heavy-handedness of the government in Cairo, and emphatically added something to the effect: We are sick and tired of Cairo; we want independence from Cairo; we want our own state.
I was taken aback by his answer. I expected, given the context, that he would say he wanted a retrial for the accused; or that he wanted a new government; but not that he wanted separation from Egypt and a new state called Port Saeed. I have never heard of a separatist movement based in Port Saeed and advocating independence from Cairo.
While I am not a believer in conspiracy theories, international politics is basically a continuous struggle for power; and in the pursuit of power the Machiavellian craft of deception, lies, and outright use of force, though never publicly acknowledged, nonetheless regularly inform the clandestine face of international politics.
Sometimes the naked use of force is obviously a flagrant breach of conventions and commonly accepted norms, but nonetheless publicly and unashamedly used to pursue illicit political ends. This was infamously the case in the Bush administration’s decision to use force to invade Iraq, while the influential media cheered on in the run-up to the war.
Last week marked the 10th anniversary of then secretary of state Colin Powell’s infamous presentation to the UN Security Council in which he used incomplete and misleading information — partly planted by friends of Israel in the Bush administration like Douglas Feith in the Defence Department — to make the case for weapons of mass destruction and war against Iraq.
The Washington Post opined that it was “hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction”. The New York Times editorialised that Powell “was all the more convincing because he … focused on shaping a sober, factual case against Mr Hussein’s regime”.
Now that we know that there was no weapons of mass destruction and the case for war was based on a massive campaign of lies and deception, the New York Times offered this sobering assessment. “Ten years later,” it wrote, “ Powell’s speech,” stands as “a historic testament of shameless deception leading to vast carnage …”
But the conspiracy theory that animated discussions and speculations about the nature and the purpose of the diehard demonstrators in the streets of Cairo and other cities has its foundations in what this demonstrator in Port Saeed said about his city wanting independence from Egypt to found its own state.
Isn’t that precisely what the Zionist plan for the Middle East advocated? The dismantlement of the large Arab states into small, weak, and dependent entities built around confessional or ethnic foundations, and unable to challenge Israeli hegemonic domination of the region.
In 1982, Hebrew University Professor Israel Shahak, an Israeli human rights activist, translated a Hebrew language article in the official Organ of the World Zionist Organisation magazine Kivunim (Directions)
The article was titled, ‘A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties’. Shahak stated in the foreword: The Zionist plan for the Middle East “is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states”.
Libya has been weakened. Sudan has been divided; Iraq has been neutralised by the internal strife exacerbated by the American invasion with Kurdistan practically a separate state. Lebanon is weak; and Syria is being destroyed. Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel.
Not surprisingly Egypt is accorded special attention. And this has been the case long before the publication of the World Zionist Organisation document. When Jamal Abdul Nasser became the effective leader of Egypt in 1954, he showed an unexpectedly favourable disposition to contacts with the Israeli leaders, especially prime minister Moshe Sharet, with a view to achieving a peaceful settlement of the Palestine question.
Nasser’s readiness to negotiate with Israel threatened the Zionist strategic goal of expansionism that could only be accomplished by force and under the cover of an Israel perpetually threatened with destruction. The heresy of Sharet who wanted to deal with the Egyptian leader and Nasser’s interest in a negotiated settlement provoked the anger of the Zionist establishment.
David Ben-Gurion eased Sharet out, took over the reins of power, and proceeded to plot, with the French and the British, the 1956 attack on Egypt. Although the 1956 attack (following the 1954 Israeli attack on the Egyptian garrison in Gaza) failed to bring Nasser down, it put an end to his interest in pursuing an accommodation with Israel.
The weakening of Egypt remained a central objective of Israeli policy. When Nasser fell into the trap of crisis escalation when Israel threatened Syria, Israel launched its thundering attack on June 5, 1967. In the space of six days the Israeli army demolished the armies of three Arab countries — Egypt, Syria, and Jordan — and occupied the Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank. A war of attrition ensued and its ferocity with Israel carrying air raids deep inside Egypt, unsettled Washington. Secretary of state William Rogers proposed a peace plan, which was accepted by Nasser, but rejected by Israel, and eventually torpedoed by Henry Kissinger — Rogers’ archrival in the White House.
But it was Anwar Sadat who took Egypt out of the conflict, and signed a separate peace treaty with Israel. This opened the door for Israel to terrorise its neighbours with impunity: air raid against Iraq in 1981, invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and in 2006, air raid against Tunisia in 1985, and countless assaults against the Palestinians, with Egypt under Sadat and his successor Hosni Mubarak were unable to do much more than verbally condemn.
Egypt under Mohammad Mursi vigorously protested the latest war against Gaza, and all political groupings called for the review of the Camp David Accords signed with Israel. Israeli strategic designs for Egypt call for the reoccupation of the Sinai, and the destabilisation of Egypt by supporting the establishment of a Coptic state in Upper Egypt, and two Sunni States in the North and in the South.
Maybe the Port Saeed protester who demanded independence for his city was not aware that he was unwittingly promoting Zionist designs.
Adel Safty is distinguished professor adjunct at the Siberian Academy of Public Administration, Russia. His new book, Might Over Right, is endorsed by Noam Chomsky.