A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, March 21, 2011

The New Egyptian Security Chief

You will recall that last week Egypt's new Interior Minister, Mansur Eissawy, abolished the notorious State Security Investigations Service (Mubahith Amn al-Dawla), and the whole State Security Apparatus, (Jihaz Amn al-Dawla), the hated secret police of the old regime. Abolished. Kaput. Finis. Khalas.

In its place would be created a new "National Security Sector" (Qita‘ Amn al-Watani) devoted to the constitution, human rights, and respect of political freedoms. It sounded like a real improvement: it would be a mere "Sector," not an "Apparatus," and it would be in the service of the Nation, not the "State." It sounded as if it might go around handing out ice cream to kids instead of torturing people.

Of course General Eissawy himself came from State Security, like most Interior Ministers (but he was of course one of the good cops and if anything bad happened he was only following orders), and soon it was noted that "a large number" of former State Security officers would be recruited to the new agency, which would otherwise of course be completely different, of course.

Well, the Interior Minister has just named the new head of the "National Security Sector." Mother Teresa being dead and the Dalai Lama apparently being busy elsewhere, he has chosen, for want of a better candidate, (surprise, surprise!) a Major General from the old (abolished, totally gone, not there anymore, we promise) State Security.

Major General Hamid ‘Abdullah (photo above right) had been serving as security chief for the northern Sa‘id (Upper, that is, southern, Egypt), and before that had been chief of security in the Cairo suburb of Helwan, and before that, a Deputy Chief for Cairo.

Some press: English summary in Al-Masry- Al-Youm here; longer Arabic version here; Al-Shorouk in Arabic here; Al-Dostour here. While these are all independent papers few of their reports go beyond a press release. A Facebook group discussing the appointment, though still sparse last night when I read it, sees him as an old guard security man unpopular with Christians due to his service in Upper Egypt.

Stay vigilant, everyone: the Egyptian Revolution is a work in progress. The new bosses still look a bit like the old bosses.

I hope I don't sound too cynical. Skepticism, though, is appropriate here, I suspect.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Right on, Mike. Someone has to puncture the balloon of Midan at-Tahrir hot euphoria.