By Saeed Qureshi
Cameron was babbling about the process of transition over a period of time which is what the standpoint of the disgraced and besieged president of Egypt. This conservative prime minister whose parliament is known as the mother of all the parliaments and Britain being the first parliamentary democracy seemed averse to the idea of Mubarak immediately stepping down as demanded by his countrymen in their unprecedented demonstrations. He was implicitly trying to shield Mubarak whom the people of Egypt perceive as a devil and have absolutely rejected him.
Tony Blair, a submissive pal of George W Bush was repeating the same logic with nonstop blurry and fuzzy rhetoric, as was earlier dished out by the sitting prime minster. None of these two guys categorically called for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak or spoke candidly about the people of Egypt who were demanding democracy, equality, social freedom, and fundamental human rights. The protestors are venting their seething anger against the grinding poverty, a culture of rampant corruption, police cruelty, repression and torture.
The convoluted logic of these leading British political luminaries, clearly demonstrated their double standards as they want a civil and humane society in their own country but not in Egypt because it was ruled by an individual who was serving the paramount interests of Israel and other protectors of the Jewish state including Britain than their own people.
This British duplicity and hypocrisy has its precedence in the past history of relations between the Arabs and the Anglo-British imperialism. The British government persuaded Sharif Hussain of Makkah, the Arab spiritual leader of Muslims not to endorse the proclamation of Jihad by the Ottoman caliphate against the allied forces and also made him agree to fight against the Ottomans along with the allied forces. The Turkish forces were fighting against the imperialist forces as an ally of Germany.
Sharif Hussain was assured that in case of allied victory, all the Arab lands that were under the Ottoman occupation would be returned to Arabs. This assurance was given to Sharif Hussain through three separate commitments. The first was the correspondence between Sharif Hussain and the British High commissioner in Egypt McMahon. The second was the declaration of seven. The third is known as the armistice communiqué of November 7, 1918 issued at the end of the war.
The Arab troops under Sharif Hussain liberated Makkah, and all Hejaz with the exception of Medina. They also liberated Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, and Beirut from the Ottomans’ occupation. The Arab sacrifices on the side of the allied forces were staggering. Besides the innumerable Arab casualties on the war front, some 300,000 Syrians alone perished during the devastating famine of 1916.
Yet another agreement known as Skyes-Pycot agreement (April 1916), was secretly signed between Britain, France and Russia that stipulated division of conquered Arab lands between the allied partners. This secret agreement was the basis on which the British and France divided the Arab liberated lands between themselves.
In 1921, in a brazen contravention of their pledges held out to Arabs, the Allied Supreme Council constituted in the aftermath of the war, gave away the Arab lands retaken from the Ottomans, to Great Britain and France. Thus Iraq and Palestine were placed under British domination, and France took control of Syria and Lebanon.
With the downfall of the Ottoman Sultanate after Turks defeat in the World War I, the Arabs waited for the attainment of their sovereignty and independence as promised by the British government. But instead of getting their lands, the Arabs were placed under the Western colonisation instead of the Ottoman type of colonialism.
That mal-treatment of a trusted ally which helped Allied forces on war front in a huge manner is historically known as a treacherous betrayal by the Britain joined by France. The post-war settlement of Arab lands left the Arabs with feeling of deep-seated grievances and a permanent scar of British betrayal.
As if to rub salt to the Arab wounds, simultaneously in November 1917, the British government unfurled the Belfour Declaration that promised the Jews a national home in Palestine, primarily an Arab land with 90 percent Muslim population.
The Britain had no moral compunctions or qualms in ditching Arabs in such an audacious and outright dishonourable manner that later resulted in the Palestinian struggle for their national independence that continues to this day, hedged and torpedoed by the British, United States and the pro-Israel regimes.
But this does not exhaust the saga of British hypocrisy and betrayal. There is another story that highlights how the imperialist powers with Britain in lead had been conspiring and flexing their muscles to impede and stop the emergence of national states in the Middle East. One such story is about Egypt.
Britain occupied Egypt in 1882. Despite renunciation of her protectorate rule of Egypt in 1922 Britain still had many rights in that country. King Farouk, a protégé of British was deposed in July 23, 1952 by a group of young officer led by General Najeeb later replaced by Lt Colonel Gamal Abdel-Nasser.
As soon Col. Nasser took over the government, US withdrew the offer to finance the Aswan dam. Six days later Colonel Nasser announced nationalisation of the Suez Canal. On October 29, the Israeli forces invaded Egypt. That was followed by Anglo-French air operations. Despite immediate resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, ordering the three aggressors to withdraw their troops they did not comply with this for several months.
It is the same British devious mentality of fostering autocrats and monarchs and mercenaries, to serve their overseas vested interests, mostly economic imperialism. They willfully violate the solemn agreements and then justify them too. They launch unprovoked attacks on the weaker nations as they did in case of Egypt in 1956 and do not wink their eyes.
The people’s fundamental rights or democracy or freedom do not matter for these imperial powers as we can see in the lukewarm and scant expression of sympathy and support by two tall leaders of the leading parliamentary democracy for the oppressed people of Egypt protesting against a heartless dictator. This is what is happening now. The skewed statements of these two stalwarts of the British monarchy are despicably self-evident.