Saturday, May 28, 2011

Elaraby brings the new Middle Eastern narrative

Sometimes it can happen in life or in politics that a little aside in the heat of the moment gives the game away -- the fog lifts leaving a clear 100-metre stretch ahead visible. One such moment came up in Cairo on Friday when Omar Suleiman broke down and 'confessed'. Imagine the poignancy of the moment when you betray the man to whom you owed everything. Like Assadullah Sarwari betraying Hafizullah Amin or Lavrenti Beria and Josef Stalin.

Suleiman, Egypt's dreaded spymaster, told the prosecutors in Cairo yesterday that he didn't do a thing that was out of turn and all those killings on Tahrir Square were undertaken at the instance of Hosni Mubarak. He said Mubarak knew of every bullet that was fired and that he gave him hourly accounts of what impact those bullets had.

It is an ancient game - the blame game. Suleiman can't account easily for all the blood on his hands that the waters in the Nile river can't wash away, and the sensible thing to do is to pass the buck to Mubarak. He also knows that there is an extraordinary revolutionary storm building up outside the cell where he is detained with the masses insisting that the military, the arch-reactionary segment of any society, must obey the will of the people and must craft policies so that Egypt's tormented soul is calmed.

And the fact of the matter is that the military is obeying. The Rafah crossing with Gaza is being permanently opened today. The Palestinians are no more under blockade! And Israel can't do anything about it. The Egyptian military is pressing ahead with the Palestinian unity pact despite protests by Israel, and ignoring Barack Obama's strictures.

Without doubt, Nabil Elaraby, Egypt's foreign minister - who is choreographing Egypt's new 'partnership' with US, is untying the security ties with Israel and re-engaging his country with Arab brotherhood, and is forging ties with Iran - arrives in Delhi today. Elaraby is a rare scholar-diplomat and will have many heart-throbbing, intellectually stimulating, utterly spell-binding things to narrate to the Indian leadership. And yet, our media and think tankers seem unaware who Elaraby is. They are full of the US Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Not a word about Elaraby! Aren't they like frogs in a well croaking at the sliver of sky above and thinking that is all that the firmament is about? The Indian foreign policy establishment which reached out to Elaraby is once again outstripping our intelligentsia and making the latter appear rather pedestrian.

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