Friday, April 16, 2004
I want to thank everyone who posted a comment and congratulated me on my first blog ever from Egypt. I promise to write regularly and fill this blog with all sorts of interesting information. I will also try to answer as many question as possible.
Many asked me about how Egyptians feel towards the war in Iraq. I have been trying to avoid this issue because it upsets me so much. I’m afraid almost no one shares my views in Egypt. Brainwashed by a completely unbalanced media, the majority of Egyptians do not give a hoot about the future of Iraq as long as they see the US in trouble. Nobody stops to think about how Iraq can evolve into a decent nation, they are busy praying for more chaos to prove that the US was wrong. I am totally ashamed to say these words and I do not want to appear as if I am “tarnishing” my own beloved country, but I was asked a question and I have to be truthful in answering it. I also want to point to the fact that this sickness is not just in Egypt but in all other Arab countries (not mentioning Western Europe!) apart from Kuwait and Iraq. I always say that Kuwait and Iraq are on the side of Iraq! Also, I have to mention that there are several Arab intellectuals who support the reconstruction efforts in Iraq and who pray for the success of the coalition and its Iraqi partners.
When Saddam was captured, a mist of gloom and sadness covered the entire Arab world. They were not upset because they liked Saddam but because the US scored a point. It was so upsetting to see Kuwaitis and Iraqis dancing on that day while most Arabs kept their jaws open.
Now don’t get me wrong. I do not mean that Egyptians hate Americans. That is far from the truth. Millions of American tourists visit Egypt each year and they all experience our Egyptian hospitality. There is an area in Cairo called Maadi where thousands of American families live with their 2-story houses, 4 wheel drive cars, and pet dogs. However, it is the notion of “love the people hate the government” that gave birth to this stupid attitude.
After 911, the US government revised its public relations plan in the Middle East and introduced new methods to “communicate” with the people here just like the former Soviet satellite countries. The US State Department introduced a new radio, magazine, and recently a 24/7 satellite channel to the region. All these are OK, but the most crucial PR tool is Iraq Iraq Iraq Iraq. I love what New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman once said: “you ask about what our Syria policy should be, I say Iraq. What should our Iran policy be? Iraq”.
I hope I clarified things a bit. As usual, I welcome all your comments.