Relations between Egypt and the PA are about to go south quickly, with a leaked telephone conversation between a top Egyptian intelligence official and an exiled Mahmoud Abbas rival containing some choice words about Abbas.
A high-ranking Egyptian intelligence officer ridicules Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a leaked telephone conversation with exiled Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan, it was revealed Saturday night.
Abbas was referred to as “stupid,” and his movement Fatah “screwed,” by Major General Wael el-Safty of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate (GID), which is responsible for providing national security intelligence both at home and abroad.
The leaks may be unwelcome in Cairo for a number of reasons: Safty is in charge of the Palestinian portfolio for the GID, and the controversial Dahlan has already been accused of receiving Egyptian backing to replace Abbas. This recording is only the latest in a series of leaks from the heart of Egypt’s military state.
The telephone conversation may also embarrass Egypt in its attempts to play honest broker in mending a feud between Abbas and Dahlan.
In the latest leaked recording, only the Egyptian side of the conversation is audible. Safty’s voice is heard, but not Dahlan’s responses.
Still, it is obvious that the person on the other end of the telephone is Dahlan, because he is referred to by his kunya, or traditional Palestinian name, Abu Fadi.
Furthermore, after exchanging pleasantries, Safty asks about members of Dahlan’s family by name.
“Abu Fadi, the years are passing,” the Egyptian intelligence officer reminisces early on in the tape.
Soon thereafter, they begin talking about someone whose “concentration isn’t at full capacity”. Safty then says this person “has nothing to offer”.
The tapes go on to make clear that the man they are talking about is Abbas, 81.
“You told me something I still remember to this day,” Safty tells Dahlan. “You said that he (Abbas) is like a camel.”
The implication here is that Abbas is repeatedly churning out old ideas without bringing anything new to the table. Camels, like cattle, are ruminant animals that digest then re-digest their food a number of times.
“He isn’t smart at all,” the Egyptian intelligence officer says. “The issue of (Abbas’) age also comes into it… He doesn’t want to change, he doesn’t want to do anything.”
At this point, the conversation turns from petty insults to expressions of real frustration with Abbas. Safty lets loose.
“Fatah is completely screwed,” he says. “The (Palestinian Liberation) Organisation is even worse.”
“He can’t even contain the factions (within Fatah),” he says. “These are the ones that Abu Mazen (Abass’s kunya) couldn’t contain, these people drove me absolutely crazy, their positions have begun to align with Hamas.
“He can’t bring them together,” Safty tells Dahlan in utter exasperation. “I swear, he can’t bring them together.
“It’s stupidity,” he says, before again referring to Abbas’s advancing age, adding that the PA president does not have many laps left to run: “The track is running out, if you excuse the phrase.”
Not surprisingly, the Hamas-affiliated Shehab News has posted the conversation.
This should get interesting.