The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Obama 2009 | Nixon 1974

As Obama meets with Mubarak and participates in a festival of pageantry, let's remember another, much more historic and important, visit by a US to Egypt. In 1975 1974 the disgraced President Richard Nixon, still reeling from the Watergate scandal, arrived in Egypt to consecrate the Egyptian-American alliance that emerged after Sadat expelled Soviet advisors. Take a look at some of the pictures below and you will see that he traveled through Cairo as millions of Egyptians cheered (see Two million Egyptians greet Nixon in Cairo). That was the beginning of Egypt's special relationship with Washington, and people were optimistic that it might mean be a solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict. Sadat had just carried out the 1973 war, an heroic Egyptian attempt to retake Sinai that may have failed militarily but that he was able to translate into a political process leading to Camp David. I'm no Sadat fan, but just contrast with the present situation with Mubarak.

Of course it was not all adulation. From that visit we've also had one of the best songs of the Ahmed Fouad Negm - Sheikh Imam duo, Sharaft ya Baba Nixon, which savages Sadat for preparing such an elaborate reception.

Sharaft ya Nixon Baba

Here's one translation (not entirely accurate though) I found:

You came Father Nixon
Mr. Watergate

They gave you so many honors
These exploiters of the people.
They festooned the widest path
From Ras-El-Tine to Mecca
So that from there you could go to Accra
And that it could be said he made the pilgrimage.
It was a real traveling circus,
Your benediction Parents of the Prophet.

The day of your arrival your agents prepared for you
A beautiful exorcism ritual
Where the whores strutted their stuff
Homos and lowlifes
And where Chamhourèche in person
Made love to the priestess, there were many processions.
A whole retinue of blood suckers followed
Groveling by order of importance,
Of course.

Those who invited you said to you
Come eat some candies and sweets.
And since you are a little naive,
You thought us easy prey.
You were in ruins;
They wanted to help prop you up.
Undesirable partner, I spit in your face,
Disguised as a blessing.

Listen and remember,
Even though you won't be around much longer,
I won't bid you welcome or to go away.
I won't tell you come, or get lost.
But they say, Egyptian flesh is corrosive there,
Where it's wasting away.
For a real traveling circus,
Your benediction, Parents of the Prophet.