Secret recordings reveal Mubarak’s frank views on the U.S., Israel and the Brotherhood

The New York Times reports: Hosni Mubarak looked like a stalwart American ally but worried for years that Washington was trying to oust him as president of Egypt, he confided to a doctor recently in surreptitiously recorded conversations that came to light here last week.

“How did the revolution start?” Mr. Mubarak mused about his ouster, in early 2011. “The Americans worked on it since 2005, and I had a feeling then.”

The conversations were recorded over a period of months this year and were authenticated over the weekend when the doctor, an ear, nose and throat specialist, was summoned to testify about them. They offer a rare, unadulterated taste of the former president’s attitudes about a host of subjects — Washington, Israel, his Arab neighbors, Jews, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s new military leaders and most of all himself.

For all the aid the United States gave Egypt during his 30 years in power, his comments suggest that Washington gained little sway over Mr. Mubarak. And he expressed nothing but pride in his rule despite the steady decline of Egypt’s economy and influence.

The Islamists who won power after his removal “blame ‘the former regime’ for everything,” Mr. Mubarak is heard complaining in one recording. Speaking of the Egyptian population, he said, “They lived — they were 43 million when I received them and 90 million when I handed them over.”

The recordings were released last week through the Web site of the newspaper Youm el-Saba, and quickly captivated Egyptians with details like Mr. Mubarak’s boasts of his heroism as a pilot in the 1973 war against Israel, and his shock at the high prices of groceries. “An egg is one pound?” he said in shock, joking, “So let’s eat potato sandwiches!”

Mr. Mubarak apparently did not foresee the ouster in July of his successor, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. In a recording made in the spring, he was asked whether he thinks the military will act to stop the turmoil between Mr. Morsi’s opponents and his supporters; he responded, “What would they do?” He is heard guessing wrongly about Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the head of the military, saying he thought General Sisi supported Mr. Morsi and his Islamist allies: “The defense minister, I think, is to their liking.”

He realized his mistake after General Sisi seized power. In a later recording, someone said the general had turned out not to be a Muslim Brotherhood supporter after all. Mr. Mubarak laughed wryly: “No, no, he turned out to be devious.” [Continue reading…]

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