- HASSAN MASIKY
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In its May 4, 2010 edition, the Algerian daily revealed that during a 1991 meeting between a US Department of State deputy secretary and a senior Egyptian official, the United States asked the Egyptian diplomat to help the Americans gather intelligence on Algeria’s Es Salam nuclear reactor, located in the city of Ain Oussera, province of Djelfa. According to Annahar, which published a copy of the top secret US embassy’s cable, the Egyptian diplomat accepted to look into the American request. While the US embassy’s memo in question does not reveal the name of the Egyptian official, it refers to the Egyptian foreign minister at the time. Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs at the time was no other than the Arab League chief Amr Moussa. The Algerian newspaper’s allegations are extremely serious, far reaching and damaging.
In short, Annahar is not only accusing a former high ranking Egyptian official of espionage for the American, but are implying that Egypt as a government engaged in spying for the US against Algeria. Such allegations will only add more fuel to the raging war of words between the two countries, create more divisions and unnecessary rift between two people that have a lot in common.
Annahar’s allegations come at a time when the Algerian diplomacy is embarking on a campaign to replace Mr. Moussa at the head of the Arab league. Algeria with the blessing of Qatar and Syria are attempting to amend the chart of the Arab league to have the chairmanship of the Pan-Arab organization rotate among the different member states. Beside Annahar, the daily Echorouk, a newspaper known to be close to the Algerian authorities, has been on a similar relentless quest to discredit the Egyptian government.
The Algerians argue self-defense. In fact, several Egyptian news outlets and media personality trashed the image of Algeria and the Algerians during the run up to the infamous Egypt-Algeria games.
While the events surrounding the games faded away, the animosity continues unabated on several fronts. As the people of the region want to see the Algerian-Egyptian relations go back to normal, they watch in dismay and sadness a confrontation after another. Form the Arab society of Doctors and the Arab Union of Lawyers to the Arab Soccer Organization, Egypt and Algeria have been competing for top jobs and rallying support for their cause as if matters who is in charge in this honorary organization.
The Ennahar article was stretched to include allegations not supported by the US embassy’ document. It was the moral and professional responsibility of the Algerian daily to report on this subject without sensationalism. The accusation of espionage is very serious and damaging to the reputation of Mr. Moussa and the Egyptian government.
It is time for the Algerians and Egyptians to forget and forgive. No matter how discredited the Arab league is in the eyes of the Arabs and Muslims, the accusation of espionage against its head adds to the already negative image of the people of the Middle East.
Form Rabat to Beirut, the peoples of the region are saying enough is enough. The average Arab is asking: who are the Egyptians and Algerians trying to impress and convince? The average Arab is familiar with the dirt and the dead bodies in the closets of the different countries. It is time to stop the distractions and address the real issues facing the region. The Moubarak and the Boutaflika dynasties may think their people are simple minded, but as recent domestic events in Algerian and Egypt have shown, when it is time for real change, the popular “earthquake” will be strong, quick and dramatic.