The good, the bad ... and the leftovers

lapham.jpgpretty in pink.jpgChe.jpg Lewis Lapham, erstwhile editor of Harper’s, is back after a couple of issues off with a classic lead editorial on the profitable business that is war in Iraq, George Galloway is sucking wind in the Guardian and Nassrallah calls on the anti-imperialist workers of the world to unite... or did he? The Lapham piece, unfortunately, isn’t online, and I'm not in the mood to retype the whole thing for the benefit of those who won’t fork out the measly fifteen bucks a year for the world’s best magazine-- well, one of them anyway--but I will offer a couple of teaser quotes. “For the friends of the free market operating in Iraq it doesn’t matter who gets killed or why; everyday is payday, and if from time to time events take a turn for the worst … back home in America with the flags and the executive compensation packages, the stock prices of our reliably patriotic corporations rise with the smoke from the car bombs exploding in Ramadi and Fallujah.� Quoting turn-of-the-century socialist Upton Sinclair on “‘those pecuniary standards of culture which estimate the excellence of a man by the amount of other people’s happiness he can possess and destroy’� Lapham remarks “Unfortunately, we live in a society that no longer remembers Sinclair’s name, forgets that since the days of the ancient Romans it has been on their way to war that men have found the road to wealth.� Lapham’s road to war leads him, in this battle, through a nicely calibrated argument that the current situation in Iraq looks pretty normal considered in the context of late Medieval and Renaissance history of mercenary military organizations and the related development of capitalism and corporations. He makes only one serious blunder that I can see, when he asserts that Machiavelli “codified� the use and practice of mercenary forces “rediscovering the military history of ancient Rome…� Machiavelli, in fact, argued repeatedly that Roman military success rested on the citizen army and begged the Medici, and later the leaders of the Florentine Republic, to emulate the model. But, whatever—his point stands and is a pleasure to read. Contrast Lapham with the overblown bandwagon bombast of George Galloway (seen above during an appearance on a Brit reality TV show) in today’s Guardian. Claiming to have just returned from Bint Jbeil, he puffs that “The myth of invincibility is a soufflé that cannot rise twice.� (Unlike, it seems, Galloway’s career of self promotion, which seems to rise more often than... well, do we need to go there?) “If there is no settlement there can only be war, war and more war,� trumpets this balding little Nasrallah wanna-be, “until one day it is Tel Aviv which is on fire and the Israeli leaders' intransigence brings the whole state down on their heads.� Good grief, why can't someone make him shut up? You can see him getting really excited toward the end. Thinks he’s Dashell Hammet. The Hizbullah press office has given him a piece of shrapnel or a chunk Katyusha and he’s using it as an ashtray—smoking like hell, knocking the ash into this thing, and pounding away at the keys as the whiskey inexorably goes to his head. “…make no mistake,� he crows “with the victory of Hizbullah, a terrible beauty is born.� Why is the Guardian printing this poo? So Hassan Nasrallah wants the socialists to join in the international war on imperialism, but they have to leave that "opiate of the masses" stuff behind, this according to an interview supposedly given to Turkish daily Evrensel and reproduced in English by Counterpunch. Lots of people saying it never happened and kind of hard to see where to go with it anyway--it's worth a chuckle, though. You think those Che posters are getting to him?
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Naguib Mahfouz's funeral

Sorry I'm short of time thesedays due to work commitments, so can't blog regularly. Anyways, here are pix by Nasser Nouri of Naguib Mahfouz's funeral today. Naguib's funeral And here's a report by Reuters...
Pomp, ceremony but no public at Mahfouz's funeral By Aziz Kaissouni CAIRO, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz was given a state funeral on Thursday but the everyday Egyptians his novels depicted were kept out of sight by heavy security. Mahfouz's flag-draped coffin was carried on a horse-drawn carriage past rows of soldiers in ceremonial dress, ahead of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, to the sound of drums and trumpets. The writer's dedicated readers braved the scorching Cairo sun for hours, only to be told they would not be allowed to attend the procession. "He doesn't want a state funeral...he wants the people to bear him on their shoulders," shouted Mahfouz fan Amal. "Did he write for the flag? Did he write for the horses? He wrote for the poor. We should walk in his funeral." In keeping with Mahfouz's wishes, a small ceremony had been held earlier in the day in the Al-Hussein mosque, in the heart of historic Cairo where many of his novels were set. Only a few dozen people attended the ceremony, held under tight security. A Reuters witness said a group of men had attempted to enter the mosque in protest at prayers being held there for the novelist, whom they said was an infidel. The author, the only writer in Arabic to win the Nobel Literature Prize, in 1988, survived an assassination attempt six years later when Islamist militants stabbed him in the neck. Religious authorities said one of his novels broke Islamic rules by clearly depicting God and the prophets. After the prayer ceremony, Mahfouz's coffin was quickly bundled into a van for the state funeral. Thousands have attended similar funerals for other celebrities in recent years. For Mahfouz, tearful members of the public were replaced by thousands of black-clad security men who had brought traffic in the area to a standstill. Only mourners from Egypt's political elite were clearly visible. Less than 60 die-hard fans tried to get close to the procession which was not visible from where they were allowed to stand. Some of them had travelled from far-flung provinces to attend. Mohsen Khas, from one of Cairo's poorer suburbs, had arrived too late for the morning ceremony and had taken a big sign praising Mahfouz to the state funeral instead. Once again the coffin passed without him catching a glimpse. "Farewell, Arab Shakespeare," his sign read.
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Arabic is a dangerous language

So dangerous, in fact, that you can't board airplanes wearing a T-shirt with an Arabic slogan:
Arabic T-shirt sparks airport row A demonstrator wears a similar T-shirt at a New York protest in July An architect of Iraqi descent has said he was forced to remove a T-shirt that bore the words "We will not be silent" before boarding a flight at New York. Raed Jarrar said security officials warned him his clothing was offensive after he checked in for a JetBlue flight to California on 12 August. Mr Jarrar said he was shocked such an action could be taken in the US. US transport officials are conducting an inquiry after a complaint from the US Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. JetBlue said it was also investigating the incident but a spokeswoman said: "We're not clear exactly what happened."
By the way, isn't Raed Jarrar the famous counterpart to Salam Pax on the original Iraq war blog "Where's Raed"?
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Naguib Mahfouz, 1911-2006

Naguib Mahfouz passed away this morning after more than a week of hospitalization, finally succumbing to complications that included internal bleeding. There's a good essay about Mahfouz on the Nobel Prize site. More later. Update: I have a reflection on Mahfouz on the Guardian's Comment is Free website and was also interviewed by Radio France International's English broadcast about his significance in Egypt and the Arab world. Let me know what you think. The funny thing is that while I'm not actually a great fan of Mahfouz's work, I loved the man and his persona. If you really want to know tons of great anecdotes about him, pick up Gamal Ghitani's recent book (in Arabic only, for now) about the literary salons he held throughout his life, which Ursula wrote about here.
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Link dump

Sweating out the truth in Iran - excellent op-ed by Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari on Hizbullah's relationship with Iran and hairy mullahs in saunas. I was a propaganda intern in Iraq - interview with former Lincoln Group Baghdad intern Willem Marx, who planted US Army articles in the Iraqi press. Key US legislator says will block aid to Lebanon - Top Israel supporter Tom Lantos doesn't want aid money to go to Lebanon, even though Israel itself says Lebanon should receive international aid to avoid collapse. Accidental emigrant - Amira Hass on how a Jerusalem-born Palestinian man was permanently kept out of his country. 'Missing Israeli pilot' on film - Ron Arad, Israeli air force pilot who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986, may be alive. Australian Muslim teen is a slur on Islam - Miss Australia contestant being hounded by imams. I'm with Sandmonkey on this one. ADL Calls Amnesty International Report "Bigoted, Biased, And Borderline Anti-Semitic" - If the Anti-Defemation League says it, it must be true. Oh, and Abraham Foxman says Israel, not Lebanon, is the victim. The Situation in Iraq - Gilbert Achcar on Iraq and the need for US troop withdrawal.
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What if the Middle East invaded North America?

228050887 2574969C77 O No, the above picture is neither the deluded fantasy of a member of the al- Saud family, nor the paranoid hallucination of an AIPAC staffer. It's a picture from a new ad campaign for the old strategy board game "Risk" devised by advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi. I played Risk regularly in Cairo during Ramadan, when some of my Egyptian friends (Muslims and Christians) used to spending their evenings in bars must loiter at home instead (only foreigners are accepted in bars during the holy month.) So they'd make sure to stock up on booze before Ramadan begins and spend several nights a week playing all-night Risk games. (Productivity isn't very high during Ramadan anyway, so why bother getting up early?) It's clear from playing Risk that the Middle East is the least desirable territory to conquer. It's right there in the Middle and anyone who wants to expand needs to go through it at some point. Australia and South America may not get you many points, but at least they're secure. Africa is a bit better, but still tricky. North America is probably the best place, with five points and only three places to access it. Europe is more difficult to keep hold off, as is Asia and its seven points. But the Middle East doesn't even count as a continent and is constantly being overrun by European, African and Asian hordes -- as well as the odd American passing through Africa on his way to Asia. It's a place for war and conquest. Plus ça change... [via Boing Boing]
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The other migration

A neat story:
TENERIFE, Canary Islands — It rains little on this island. There are no natural rivers, and the air is full of the dry heat of the nearby Sahara. But in a ravine on the island’s northern tip, tree limbs drip with water and a tropical forest flourishes, sustained almost entirely by condensation from the low-lying clouds that are regularly pinned against the mountainside. The area, called Cruz del Carmen, is only one example of the unusual evolutionary habitats on the Canary Islands that fascinated Charles Darwin more than 100 years ago, and that today reveal a new species or subspecies to scientists an average of once every six days. But the unique plant and animal life here is being steadily overtaken by an invasion of foreign species, which have been entering these Spanish islands in increasing numbers since border checkpoints within the European Union were abolished under the Schengen Agreement a decade ago, according to government officials and scientists here.
Usually you hear about the Canary Islands' human migration problems. Over the last 2-3 years, hundreds of sub-Saharan African migrants have crossed over from southern Morocco to the Islands, were they are usually caught and then released onto the Spanish mainland if their country of origin cannot be identified (they destroy all ID before they get there.) Not only is the trip dangerous and kills many migrants each year, but Spanish and European authorities are naturally concerned about how to stop the migration. Ironically, animal and plant migrants are potentially much more dangerous to a country's economy than people are. After all people tend to be productive, and migrants provide much-needed cheap labor. But imagine if a type of sub-Saharan African insect is introduced that turns out to be deadly to Spanish olive trees... 29Cabary.Xlarge1
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Arab NGOs want Israel out of UN

A coalition of Arab human rights organizations are starting a movement to freeze Israel's UN membership. I looked quickly through the list, and while some major ones are missing, the list does contain some of the most courageous rights groups in the region. Here's an excerpt from their statement, and links to download the press release containing the full list of NGOs.
It is not longer possible that Arab human rights organizations ignore the governmental approach, both Arab and western, towards the Israeli practices considering them in isolation and overlooking the systematic policy they follow. It is time we consolidate a more progressive and positive approach towards those practices and the continuous violations by the successive Israeli governments throughout their history. We look forward to serious and tangible actions that aim to expose this Israeli state, isolate it and work towards freezing its membership in the UN. We realize that this is a difficult and long term task that has to being by simple and slowly mounting, although clear and solid, actions. We take this statement to be an initial and simple step on the way towards this achievement of this task. We wish it to be the beginning of an international campaign that may involve, among others, regional and international meetings and joint actions.
I leave it to readers to debate whether this is useful or not. You may want to keep in mind the current situation in Gaza. English: It is time to freeze Israel's membership in the UN (1)-1.doc Arabic: تجميد عضوية اسرائيل-1.doc
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"Jihad for modernity and enlightenment"

Most articles about what the Arabs need to do to get out of their current predicament tend to be rather tiresome at best and badly-disguised attack jobs for some ideology that is unsympathetic to Arabs at worst. If they're written by Thomas Friedman, they're both tiresome and offensive. The article below, I think is different and worth reading. The author is Ahmed Zewail, the Egyptian-American Nobel Prize winning chemist, often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in Egypt (I don't think he could run as a dual national anyway, and he's no politician.) Sure, the article is vague, but it draws rather clear outlines of what needs to be done and most importantly rejects the "gradual reform" offered by the current regimes out of hand. There's been enough flawed processes in the region -- two decades of a "reform process" that was an excuse for one elite to replace another, a "peace process" in Israel/Palestine that was empty of any real content and now a "democratization process" whose entire purpose is to prevent anyone from ever reaching the end of the process: democracy, warts and all. (Highlights mine, thanks to reader B.I. for emailing this.)
Ahmed Zewail: We Arabs must wage a new form of jihad We must not be distracted by old ideologies and conspiracy theories Published: 24 August 2006 The cataclysmic wars in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq have uncovered the reality of Arab unity and plight, and the collective conscience of international society. It is abundantly clear that the Arab people must themselves build a new system for a new future. The current state, as judged by a low GDP, high level of illiteracy, and deteriorating performance in education and science, is neither in consonance with their hearts and minds nor does it provide for their political, economic, and educational aspirations. Yet this is the same Arab world that produced leading civilisations, world-class universities, and renowned scholars and scientists. Clearly, something has gone seriously astray.
As someone from, and directly involved with, this part of the world, I am convinced Arabs are qualified to regain their glorious past. Arabs have two-thirds of "proved oil reserves", and copious sunlight for possible alternative energy. They have their own market, the potential for an Arab Union, and many Arab countries are strategically positioned, geographically and politically. The people have a unique culture of community and family values, and their faith is inclusive and pluralistic. Above all, the Arab world has people with talent and creativity, with nearly half of the population in its youth. These are forces for progress, but without nurturing intrinsic talent and establishing a cogent system of governance the status quo will prevail. In my view, there are four "pillars of change" that would support an imperative historic renaissance for transforming the current state of affairs. First, a new political system must be established with, at its core, a constitution defining the democratic principles of human rights, freedom of speech, and governance through contested elections. A select delegation of honorable intellectuals, respected political personalities, and thoughtful religious scholars, perhaps under the patronage of supreme-court judges, should form a council to debate and chart a new constitution for a final referendum involving the people.TThe co-existence of religious values in the lives of individuals and secular rules in the governance of the state should be clearly defined. There is no need to fear conflict, as reason and faith are driving forces in western democratic societies and in some Muslim countries such as Turkey and Malaysia. Second, the rule of law must in practice be applied to every individual, independent of caste, faith, or background. Currently, some rules of law are either unenforced or selectively enforced, resulting in demoralising practices. Besides being a prime cause of poor economic growth, poor governance breeds corruption which cripples investment, wastes resources, and diminishes confidence. If rules are applied fairly, people acquire security and faith in their system. Third, the methods used in education, cultural practices, and scientific research must be revisited, reviewed, and revitalised. The goal should be to promote critical thinking and a value system of reasoning, discipline, and teamwork. The government should remain responsible for the primary education of all. Higher education should be based on quality not quantity, receive merit-based funding, and be free of unnecessary bureaucracy. Not the least of the benefits of educational reform is to foster the pride of achievement at national and international levels. Fourth, an overhauling of the Arab media is necessary. Currently, there are numerous satellite TV channels and several so-called media cities generously financed, perhaps much more than research institutions. Yet people are inundated with mind-numbing and propaganda programmes. The conceptually new al-Jazeera has become a very effective news media among millions of Arabs; similar media outlets concerned with cultural, social, and educational events should be established. The primary objective is to stimulate minds and encourage critical thinking for civilised debates and dialogues. Governments should control neither the news nor appointment of editors; quality and appropriateness should be controlled by the judgement of professionals and the wisdom of society in accordance with the rule of law. We Arabs can accomplish the transition to the world of the 21st century, but the people and leaders must embark on a new course. Incremental changes - so-called gradual reforms - are inappropriate for a system that has been ineffective for decades. We should have confidence in ourselves and in global participation, and not blame others for current calamities or use religion for political gains. The responsibility of the individual for self and societal improvement is clearly stated in The Koran: "Indeed! God will not change the good condition of the people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves." I appeal to the Arab people to participate in this process of historic change and not to be distracted by the ideologies of the past and conspiracy theories of the future. Being passive creates a state of apathy and legitimises the status quo. I call on intellectuals to focus on the greater good, not just for personal gain. Conscience and integrity are national responsibilities in this critical period of history. I urge the leaders of the Arab world to implement these historical changes and, in so doing, become makers of history. A genuine and peaceful transition to democracy is both legitimate and timely. Before too long the oil will run out and human talent will migrate, but if we commit to "pillars of change", with jihad for modernity and enlightenment, we will realise our rightful place in the future. The writer is the only Arab to receive the Nobel Prize in Science, 1999
There's an argument to be made Zewail didn't need to use Islamic language and references, but I think in this case it does no harm.
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Hamas to launch satellite TV station

It looks like Hamas may launch its own regional satellite television station:
Gaza, 28 August: Ramattan news agency learned today from sources close to Hamas that the movement plans to launch its satellite television channel on 1 October. About a year ago, Hamas launched its private television station, Al-Aqsa Television, but the station remained an experimental terrestrial channel. The station served Hamas in the legislative elections that were held early this year, and helped it win most of the parliamentary seats by airing propaganda and reports on Hamas's leaders, candidates and political programme. According to sources close to the television station, its will begin its trial broadcast through Nile Sat, in early October, adding that it would become the first party-owned Palestinian satellite channel. It is noteworthy that more than one private Palestinian television channel is expected to be launched during the next few months. Source: Ramattan News Agency website, Gaza.
There several things that are remarkable about this. First, if it goes ahead on NileSat, it will mean the Egyptian government is agreeing to this -- possibly as another bargaining chip in Cairo's ongoing negotiations with various Palestinian factions. Secondly, as the article points out, this will be the second time that an Arab political party (especially one that remains essentially in opposition, even if it won elections and formed a government) gets its own satellite channel -- the first is Hizbullah's Al Manar, which is getting plenty of attention these days. Of course, it could be that this channel will be too poorly funded and vulnerable to Israeli attacks (on the physical studios, for instance) to amount to much. But it has the potential to become an influential source of information in the Arab world, much as Al Manar has during the Lebanon war. And there's no shortage of emotionally-charged news coming from the Occupied Territories...
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Eight Egyptians die in buildings collapses

Disasters seem not stopping anytime soon...
Eight Egyptians killed in building collapses 28 Aug 2006 10:07:54 GMT CAIRO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Eight people were killed when two buildings collapsed within hours of each other in Egypt, and rescuers were searching for any others who could be trapped in the rubble, security sources said on Monday. The two residential buildings, one in Cairo and another in the town of Qalyoub 20 km (12 miles) north of the city, collapsed between Sunday evening and Monday morning. Qalyoub was also the scene of a train crash which killed 58 people last week. Building collapses are frequent in Egyptian cities because of poor construction and maintenance.
Nasser Nouri went to Hadayeq el-Qobba, where the Cairo building collapsed. He stayed from 2am till 7am, taking pix of the disaster, and following the rescue efforts. I've uploaded the pix to my flickr account. Cairo Building collapses On another note, I won't be posting regularly for the coming couple of weeks, due to work commitments. I trust Issandr and Mathew will keep you updated on any important current events.
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Sudan charges Paul Salopek with espionage

Just after those Fox News journalists were released in Gaza, I heard that twice Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Paul Salopek has been charged with espionage in Sudan. I had the opportunity to meet Paul once, around the time Iraq was invaded. He was an extremely humble and smart journalist (a rare combination in this profession) and we had a long talk about sub-Saharan Africa, where he reported from for years, and our common love for Ryszard Kapucinski's books. At the time he was coming back from a sabbatical running his family's cattle farm in Mexico. I realize that this isn't exactly the worse thing happening in Sudan -- hopefully this will be one area where US policy will be a force for good in the region -- but let's hope he and the people arrested with him (two Chadians, who are going to have a tough time considering the current tension between Chad and Sudan) will make it out of this mess. AP story after the jump.
Chicago Tribune Reporter Charged With Espionage in Sudanese Court Associated Press August 26, 2006 5:15 p.m. CHICAGO -- A Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune was charged in a Sudanese court Saturday with espionage and two other criminal counts, the paper said. The 40-minute court hearing involving Paul Salopek, 44, took place three weeks after he and two Chadian nationals were arrested by pro-government forces in the war-torn region of Darfur, the Tribune reported Saturday on its Web site. He was working on a freelance assignment for National Geographic magazine when he was arrested. "He is not a spy," Chicago Tribune Editor and Senior Vice President Ann Marie Lipinski said in a statement. "Our fervent hope is that the authorities in Sudan will recognize his innocence and quickly allow Paul to return home to his wife, Linda, and to his colleagues." Chris Johns, National Geographic's editor in chief, said Mr. Salopek was in Sudan writing an article on a sub-Saharan African region known as the Sahel. "He had no agenda other than to fairly and accurately report on the region," Mr. Johns said. Mr. Salopek has been in telephone contact with National Geographic and Tribune editors, who have "worked through political and diplomatic channels in the U.S. and overseas to secure their release," the paper said. "We are deeply worried about Paul and his well-being, and appeal to the government of Sudan to return him safely home," said Ms. Lipinski, who called Mr. Salopek "one of the most accomplished and admired journalists of our time." Mr. Salopek was arrested with his interpreter and driver on Aug. 6, the Tribune said. All three were charged Saturday with espionage, passing information illegally and writing "false news." Mr. Salopek was on a scheduled leave of absence from the Tribune when he was detained. A judge in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state in western Sudan, granted a defense motion for a continuance, delaying the start of the trial until Sept. 10. In 2001, Mr. Salopek won a Pulitzer for international reporting for his work covering Africa. In 1998, he won a Pulitzer for explanatory reporting for his coverage of the Human Genome Diversity Project. Copyright © 2006 Associated Press
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Ramses marching...

As I'm writing now, our King Ramses II is finally making his way to his new home in Giza. I posted before on the rehearsal, which was successful, but now is the BIG DAY! The statue was scheduled to start moving by 1am, and is expected to arrive at the Grand Egyptian Museum by the Giza platue in 7 or 8 hours (depending on the traffic?). There was a previous report on postponing the move to 6 October instead of 25 August, coz of Israel's war on Lebanon. With the ceasfire, I guess the govt decided to go ahead with the original schedule. I went to check out the square in the afternoon, and spoke with some ordinary people as well as engineers involved in the project. Most said they were for moving the statue, to escape the bloody pollution. But they were all sad Ramsis Basha would be around no more. I heard lots of jokes, as expected, on how the Se3eedis (Upper Egyptians) will be lost now when they arrive in Cairo's central train station. The statue had always been the main placemark for any non-Cairene. I took some pix of the statue earlier in the afternoon. You can find them on my flickr account. You can also find a slideshow, by Nasser Nouri, of the previous rehearsal that took place on 27 July here. Ramses II UPDATE: Nasser Nouri kindly shared some of the pix he took of the King's march. I uploaded them to my flickr account.
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Mubarak dismisses Lebanon, train criticism

The Raiess has spoken...
Egypt's Mubarak dismisses Lebanon, train criticism By Aziz El-Kaissouni CAIRO, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak lashed out at critics who have slammed his handling of the conflict in Lebanon as indecisive and slow. In an interview with Al Massai newspaper published on Thursday, Mubarak dismissed criticism of Egypt's diplomatic handling of the war in Lebanon, saying that suggestions Egypt was absent from the crisis were wrong. "My nerves are strong, thank God, and I am fortified against provocation, and I ask God to guide all those who lose their cool, which leads them to slips of the tongue," Mubarak said, when asked how he felt about attacks from Arab politicians. He said Egypt's stance had been clear during the war, with its support for Lebanon and its condemnation of Israeli attacks. But critics have blasted his lack of support for Hizbollah and what they say was Egypt's slow response to the crisis.
Mubarak indirectly criticised the Islamist guerrilla group at the start of the conflict, and his son's visit to Beirut to show solidarity with the Lebanese was seen as having come too late. Hizbollah is now seen by many Arabs as having won the war. Scathing attacks on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Hizbollah patron, have appeared in state newspaper editorials in recent days, following Assad's thinly veiled attack on some Arab states for not supporting Hizbollah. Without mentioning a state by name, Assad called leaders of those countries "half men". Syria has since denied the comments were directed at Mubarak. Mubarak also rebuffed accusations that state negligence caused Monday's train crash in which 58 died, accusing the paper of unfairness in an editorial on the accident. "The suspicion of negligence is not a possibility. Perhaps mistakes are made ... but there's a big difference between unintentional error and negligence deserving of questioning and holding to account," Mubarak told the newspaper. The government has faced a barrage of media criticism after Monday's train crash, Egypt's worst in four years. The crash was one of a string of recent Egyptian transport accidents. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif had ordered Transport Minister Mohamed Lutfi Mansour to report preliminary findings on the crash by Wednesday, but no announcements had been made as of 1200 GMT on Thursday. In the interview Mubarak said the government had been aware of the need to update and repair the railways for years, but that difficult economic conditions had led it to postpone the project "year after year."
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