Monday, December 27, 2010

El Naschie on Sudan

El Naschie's Rosa Al-Youssef column is up for Tuesday, December 28. Season of secession in the south. Original Arabic or Google's English translation.


Today's column contains references to Middle East/North Africa regional affairs that will be obscure to most El Naschie Watch readers, and are obscure to me, but for background let me say what little I know. My explanation will be simplistic and is based on exchanges I've seen between Egyptians and Sudanese on Egyptian Chronicles, with this thread being an example.

Egypt's neighbor to the south, Sudan, is on the verge of breaking up into two separate states, a northern and a southern one.

The feelings of Egypt and Sudan for each other are conflicted. Egyptians profess love and fraternity with Sudan, and point out that First President of the Republic of Egypt, Muhammad Naguib, was half Sudanese. And so was President Anwar Sadat. Egyptians also tend to think that Sudanese reciprocate these warm feelings. The Sudanese, on the other hand, point to stereotyped, racist depictions of Sudanese in Egyptian media. For example they may be portrayed in lowbrow Egyptian comedy as porters or bellhops by Egyptian actors in blackface. Sudan is annoyed with Egypt for occupying the disputed Halayeb border region, and for incidents as far back as Muhammad Ali Pasha's invasion of Sudan in 1820. Egypt's neighbors, including Sudan, think that the Nile Water Agreement of 1929, granting Egypt most of the Nile waters, is an unfair colonial relic.

Now on to the column itself.

The title "Season of secession in the south" refers to the impending breakup of Sudan, which Mubarak, and therefore of course El Naschie, are unhappy about. And it harks back to the title of a famous book, as we'll see momentarily.

El Naschie tells of attending a social event at the home of

His Excellency the Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman currently in London, Dr. Fadil Abdul Aziz Al Hinai (الدكتور الفاضل عبدالعزيز الهنائي), a cultured lover of Science and Letters, a friend of the great writer Joseph Awad.

The Omani ambasssor to the UK is in fact a different person, Hussain Ali Abdullatif (PDF), so El Naschie may be confused, or I may be. In any case, El Naschie got to talking with the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih (1929 – 18 February 2009), author of «Season of Migration to the North», who also attended the event. Tayeb Salih, readers will infer, is in grave danger from El Naschie's Curse. "The great writer Joseph Awad" (May 17, 1929 - July 17, 2009), whom El Naschie called a friend of his host, was an exact contemporary of Tayeb Salih.

El Naschie says conversationally to Tayeb Salih that Sudan must have lingering resentment toward Egypt for the Mahdist War. Tayeb Salih "replied quietly" that El Naschie got it completely wrong:

Mostly Sudanese like Egypt. Most love and want unity with Egypt.

Now hold it right there. To me this sounds like El Naschie saying whatever he thinks his audience, in this case Egyptians, wants to hear. We know he does that, as for example changing the story about his father's ostensible membership in the Free Officers to suit a Qatari audience.

Q: How can you tell when El Naschie is lying?
A: His lips are moving.

El Naschie says he knew a lot about Sudan because in the 1950s and 60s, the son of a Sudanese Communist Party leader was an enemy of his. Cool story, bro.



Recently I expressed curiosity as to El Naschie's father's exact rank in the Egyptian army.

In today's column El Naschie obligingly tells us:

وكان والدي اللواء صلاح النشائي
My father was Maj. Gen. Salah El Naschie

He says his father regarded Sudan as "a natural extension of Egypt, much more so than Syria". I don't think El Naschie would say that in Khartoum.

So, El Naschie's father was a major general. In fact, he was the very model of a modern major general.



Pirates of Penzance
by Gilbert and Sullivan
I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General


I am the very model of a modern Major-General
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical

I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse

With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotepotenuse

I'm very good at integral and differential calculus
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General

I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous

I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies
I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore

And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinapinafore

Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform
And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus's uniform
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin"
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat"

When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee [rode a horse]

You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a sat a gee

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General




El Naschie promises to tell us more about what Tayeb Salih said in the next column.




El Naschie's Rosa Al-Youssef column is up for Wednesday, December 29. Sudan on the «threshold partition». Original Arabic or Google's English translation. Or Bing's English.

El Naschie continues:

Tayeb Salih said that Sudan had many real problems with Egypt. [El Naschie reads El Naschie Watch. He calibrated that sentence in response to my accusation that El Naschie says whatever he thinks his Egyptian audience wants to hear.] It was clear to me that he saw no likelihood of relaxation of the hard line of Dr. Hassan al Turabi, but he didn't say it directly. He was careful in his expressions and chose his words very well. [El Naschie is rattled by a reader's comment: "Needless to say that the persona depicted here in this imagined conversation does not even sound like him. The douche should really work on his imaginary-dialog skills."]

Sudan now stands on the threshold of the partition, with no power and no strength except in Allah.

People like me grew up in the Egyptian revolution and the dreams of one Arab nation... Believing that Syria is part of Egypt... Throughout Sudan and Egypt to the north, of course, ignorance and lack of realism is one of the most intractable causes of the plight of the Arab world -- in Iraq, and occupied Palestine, and now in Sudan about to be split in two.

The only solace or only realistic hope is that our foreign policy is now the most successful foreign policy that has ever been known to Egypt.

People of all political stripes know that the era of President Hosni Mubarak is the era of the special relationship with the most important countries in the world, so I think that Egypt will pass this critical period and will keep the ties of brotherhood and friendship and a common destiny with Sudan's north. The season of separatism in the south will pass and the deep historical relations between the countries of the Nile Valley will remain.

Finally I ask those who insist on mixing religion and politics, in Egypt or any other country, to learn from what happened in Sudan. There is wisdom in the famous English saying «The road to hell is paved with good intentions».

In the world in which we now live, good intentions are not good enough. Without considerations full of reality there can not be a successful foreign policy of the Arab world. The responsibility for the current failure does not exist in Cairo or Riyadh, but must be sought elsewhere.




El Naschie's Rosa Al-Youssef column is up for Thursday, December 30. Long live free Egypt and Sudan. Original Arabic or Google's English translation. Or Bing's English. Here is my translation; or rather, as usual, my attempt to impose sense on the Google and Bing versions:

I was only a kid, but I really loved the Egyptian revolution [El Naschie's father lost his army major-general job because of the revolution. El Naschie's enthusiasm for the revolution depends on whom he's telling the story to.] and hated England and France. I believed in Arab unity from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf, and the road was crystal clear: The elimination of imperialism and its allies at home and abroad. As for Sudan, it was a forgone conclusion. We sang in the morning before entering the classroom and after saluting the flag of Egypt and later the flag of the Arab Republic of Egypt saying «Long live a free Egypt and Sudan! Peace throughout the Nile Valley! Egypt for Sudan and Sudan for Egypt!» And now what? Even Sudan is no longer for Sudan. God help the President of the Republic of Egypt, a man who has borne the responsibility for the largest Arab country for a long time, first when he was chosen by the Eternal President Gamal Abdel Nasser to be close to him, and then chosen by the martyr President Anwar Sadat to be a deputy, and then chosen by the Egyptian people in the most difficult historical circumstances to be faithful to him.

Egypt has warned in every way, and without interfering in the affairs of independent Arab states, of the consequences of extremism in politics, and in thought and life. In Iraq, Palestine, and now Sudan, the results of that extremism are almost too painful to bear.

Whether the blame for this latest Arab tragedy in Sudan lies with the Sudanese Communist Party (once among the largest communist parties in the Arab world) or with the hard-line Islamic parties, it's up to God to forgive them.

I don't know whose fault it is and I don't even want to know. I only know who benefits: The same racist entity we all know wreaks havoc on Earth. [Israel, I guess he means.]

But the fundamental error is the lack of a unified Arab policy, at least in foreign affairs and destiny of the Arab world.

There is no doubt that the separation is a more merciful evil than the evil of large-scale civil war in Sudan, which benefits only arms dealers and owners of the factories of death. So it was the logical stance of Egyptian foreign policy to accept the status quo, minimize damage, and keep losses to a minimum.

This is the bitter reality that all sane people must accept.

I admit it is too bitter a pill for me. I ask God Almighty to let me not witness another such catastrophe for the Arab world before I die. Also I pray to God Almighty to preserve Egypt; and that we always remain in the hands of a wise secretariat based on reason, faith and Islam. There is a popular proverb, «the Lord moves in mysterious ways». Of course twenty years ago no one could foresee the tragedy of the Sudanese division. But it's possible to know the «reason» in advance, and the same things apply to many of the issues regarding the future of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

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4 comments:

  1. It looks like the late Saleh has succumbed to the curse of the douche. El-Tayib is one of my favorite writers, and his novel "The season of immigration to the north" (even with its obvious debt to Joseph Conrad and also Fitzerald's Gatsby) is usually ranked as the best Arabic novel of the 20th century. Needless to say that the persona depicted here in this imagined conversation does not even sound like him. The douche should really work on his imaginary-dialog skills.
    Interestingly he throws in Youssef El-Kaeed's name. El-kaeed is Gamal El-Gheitany's best friend and that is probably the connection with the douche.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yousef El-Kaeed, author of Zeyaret el-Sayed el-Rais?

    ReplyDelete
  3. UPDATED to include Thursday's Rosa column.

    ReplyDelete