Posts Tagged Sadat

Cairo, Iran, the 3 AM Phone Call, Dictators and the Egyptian Revolution

It was the Emergency phone that rang at three A.M. in the Cairo palace. With a sigh, the old man decided he should answer it. After all, he hadn’t been able to sleep anyway. He picked up the ornate receiver.

“Hosni? This is Reza.”

“Reza…?” the old man questioned.


“The Shah? But you’ve been …”

“Gone. Yes, over thirty years now.”

“Then how?”

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is you need to talk to someone who understands; someone who has been in your shoes.”

In the days of extraordinary events what was one more? “I’m listening.”

“Good. The main thing I’m calling to say is: don’t think about the next six months. Think about the next six years.”

“What do you mean?”

“First of all, the moment you leave the country, you will cease to matter. You will cease to shape events.”

“Didn’t you have a plan to leave, let things quiet down after a crack down and then come back?”

“Yes, I came to Egypt in fact.”

“I remember. Then we asked you to leave.”

“You and Sadat had to – Carter was so dead set on Camp David, so focused on peace that he missed the coming war.”

“The civil war in Iran?”

“Yes, that. But even worse, the Iran-Iraq war: eight years of hell. That idiot Saddam could not resist a weakened Iran. The mullah’s knew it was the only way to get the Military on their side; defending their country.”

“But Saddam had a prize to gain – the oil. What could anyone gain by attacking Egypt?”

“Weakness inspires attack. I don’t think Muammar would do anything so foolish. The Americans and Europeans and now the Chinese do not care so long as the oil keeps flowing. During Iran-Iraq they all stood on the sidelines, laughing like schoolyard instigators while the babies fought in the sandbox. Arab fought Persian, Muslim versus Muslim, while the world supplied both sides and smiled. Don’t let it come to that.”

“Who wants to fight Egypt?”

“No one wants to fight Egypt– unless they are attacked. Military men are trained to love their country and to fight for it. Just as Khomeini knew the soldiers and pilots would defend Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood knows Egyptians would defend Egypt – especially against Israel.”

“That would be madness.”

“Yes it would. Semite fighting Semite; unlike Saddam, the Israelis do have nuclear weapons.”

“Suleiman will talk reason into the revolutionaries.”

“Don’t trust intelligence officers. The CIA placed my father in power, and then the same for me. But when they saw me as weak, they were meeting with the other side. Intelligence officers blow with the breeze – look at Putin in Russia.”

“So what should I do?”

“I was allowed this call not to give you answers, but to make sure you ask the right questions. When all is said and done, no one will give you credit for things you did. We both, advanced the rights of women, built infrastructure, modernized our militaries, respected ancient history and kept the peace. Let’s face it though, we were bad at democracy and freedom. But to the victors go the spoils. Whoever wins the revolution will write the history of you on the hearts of your people.”

“I would hate for there to be a war once I’m gone. Egypt would suffer so much.”

“Then take the time you have left, to do what I did not do.”

“Which is what?”

“Make sure it is not the fanatics who win; because they will lead to war.”

“Much to think about.”

“I have to go now Hosni.”

“Reza? May I ask….where are you calling from?”

“That I am not allowed to say. But it is not where the mullahs would say I am. Salaam Hosni.”

“Salaam Reza.”

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