In Translation: Muhammad Hassanein Heikal on the "new Sykes-Picot"

Since we began this translations from the Arabic press — thanks to our friends at Industry Arabic, the full-service translation company —  I’ve mostly highlighted stuff I liked and tended to agree with. This, week, I wanted to take a look at an influential voice in the Arab media that I virtually always disagree with: Muhammad Hassanein Heikal. Heikal was editor of al-Ahram and minister of information under Nasser and lasted a little under Sadat, before being put in prison. He never played any prominent role in the Mubarak years, but in the last decade joined the chorus of critics of the regime from his perch at al-Jazeera, which hosts his special programs from time to time, usually focusing on historical issues (Heikal often delves into his personal archive of documents for this.)

In his latest al-Jazeera appearance, Heikal reflected on the Arab uprisings and the Western reaction to them, saying the region was headed towards a new Sykes-Picot: a grand re-arrangement of its dynamics according to external interests. Much of what he says is unsubstantiated grandiloquence, but in it is a kernel of truth: how are regional and external powers adjusting to the Arab Spring and trying to get maximum advantage out of it? The history of the region warrants such caution — one just wish there would be better, more coherent strategists than Heikal to read the tea leaves.

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal: “What’s happening now is not a ‘spring,’ but a new ‘Sykes-Picot’ to divide the Arabs”

Revolutions are not a deal for external forces to “hand over the keys” … and the West is recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a tool for fomenting sectarian strife

Nasrallah: What Yemen, Syria and the region are witnessing is part of a Zionist-American plan of fragmentation.

Writer and veteran political analyst Mohamed Hassanein Heikal has stated that the events the Arab world is now witnessing are not a “spring” but a new “Sykes-Picot” to divide the Arab region and divvy up its resources and territories as part of three plans. The first plan is “Euro-American,” the second is Iranian, and the third is Turkish, in addition to an Israeli half-plan to stymie the Palestinian issue. He argued that revolutions are not factory-made and it’s impossible for them to succeed this way. Revolutions do not take place in the sense that control-hungry external forces “hand over the keys;” rather, they are looking out for their own interests, and no one should imagine that popular liberation comes second after [foreigners’] own interests.

Read More

Links for 10.28.09

FT.com / Middle East - Wait goes on for Dubai’s £10bn bond | "Where is Dubai’s $10bn bond? The question has been making the rounds in Dubai business circles, as bankers and executives wonder when the emirate will bite the bullet and ask the United Arab Emirates central bank – which is bankrolled by Abu Dhabi – for the second tranche of a $20bn bail-out agreed earlier this year." ✪ FT.com / China / Economy & Trade - Qatar targets increased gas exports to China | China hydrocarbons imports from ME increase. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | Standing Up To Garbage | Interesting story about garbage collection problem, reveals govt. spending very little, military stepping in with recycling. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | NDP Promotes Gamal Mubarak On Facebook | Facebook users paid LE1500 to promote Gamal. ✪ Brown: Asking the wrong questions about Palestinian elections | Marc Lynch | Makes some good points about elections in the Arab world in general and the Palestinian ones in particular. ✪ Dar Al Hayat - The “Brotherhoodization” of the Arab World | Argues MB arrests only reinforce ideological core of the group and increases its popularity, allowing them to spread their intolerant populist message rather than engage in genuine politics. ✪ Arab winds of change | Brian Whitaker | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk | Whitaker provides a short take on his new book, which I will be reviewing shortly: the Arab malaise is not just the regimes, but also the people. ✪ The disabled Palestinian standup helping refugees find their funny side | Stage | The Guardian | Very nice story on Palestinian disabled standupcomics: "I am officially the most oppressed person in the world," Maysoon Zayid recently told an audience in California. "I'm a Palestinian Muslim with cerebral palsy." ✪ Israel rations Palestinians to trickle of water | Amnesty International | Amnesty's report on Israel cutting off water to Gaza. ✪ Envisioning an alternative Egypt, post-Mubarak - Haaretz - Israel News | Zvi Barel on Heikal and succession. ✪ bt - Waiting for a Trickle | "The boom, spurred by private and foreign direct investment, has paid off primarily for the country’s richest, according to the new report by the General Authority for Investment (GAFI)." ✪ The Race for Iran | New blog about the geostrategy of Iran, contributors include Flynt and Hillary Everett. ✪ Gaza water supply at 'crisis point' | "Amnesty International says Israeli policies and practices are denying Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip their fair share of the region's scarce water supplies" ✪ Amr Bargisi and Samuel Tadros: Why Are Egypt's Liberals Anti-Semitic? - WSJ.com | WTF is the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth? This argument is stupid, you take the liberals you have, not those you wish you had. And how do these people get into the WSJ op-ed page? ✪ Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll - NYTimes.com | No wonder Matthew Hoh resigned: "KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials."
Read More