It is almost impossible to find an Egyptian who is not wondering about what was happening in the presidential palace during the January 25 Revolution, and especially in the few days that preceded the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak.
Journalist Abdullah Kamal, known for his closeness to senior officials in the former regime, tells the story of who the main players behind the fall of Mubarak were.
“One of the most important reasons that helped in the ouster of the regime was former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli,” Kamal told the electronic version of the official newspaper al-Ahram.
Kamal explained that he met Adli on January 26, the day after the protests began, and that he started telling him pornographic jokes, then gave him 20 pieces of chocolate.
“It was then that I knew there was a real problem. He was just trying to pretend he was calm and that everything was normal.”
Kamal added that despite the tension he felt, Adli downplayed the protests to the extent that on the afternoon of January 28, also known as Friday of Fury, a day on which police brutality reached unprecedented levels, he went to inaugurate a mosque affiliated with the police in a village in Giza governorate.
However, Kamal said that it was a former head of intelligence and later vice president, Omar Suleiman, who was able to predict that the January 25 protests would not be like the ones that preceded them.
“Suleiman told Mubarak on January 19 that the upcoming protests are not to be treated with recklessness and asked him to handle the issue himself, yet the former president referred it to the cabinet.”
According to Kamal, there were two camps with different views about dealing with the situation. The first camp, comprised of Mubarak’s son Gamal, former head of the Consultative Assembly Safwat al-Sharif, and former head of presidential staff Zakaria Azmi, believed that the crisis could be easily resolved, while the second camp, comprised of defense minister and current head of the Higher Council for the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Chief of Staff Sami Anan, and Omar Suleiman, saw that the protests would have a destructive impact on the regime if not taken seriously.
It was, Kamal pointed out, the president’s decision not to be involved and not to respond to the people’s demands that made things worse.
“Had the president been in a better health condition he would have acted like he did in 2009, when the regime was facing one of its worst ordeals in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of Gaza.”
At the time, Kamal added, Mubarak headed the National Security Council in person and spoke to the media and to the International Community himself, while in 2011 he left other parties to deal with the situation.
As for Mubarak decision to step down, Kamal said that the resignation speech was ready on February 7, when Mubarak began to consider suggestions that he quit to resolve the crisis.
Kamal was asked about rumors that Gamal Mubarak was planning to dethrone his father and reports that the younger Mubarak sent a statement to Egyptian TV’s Abdul Latif al-Manawi with orders to broadcast it, and that the latter decided to hand it to the army.
“Only Manawi would be able to answer this question, but I find this unlikely because Mubarak and Gamal were very close. You have no idea how close the members of this family were to each other.”
For Kamal, the former information minister, Anas al-Fekki, comes second after Adli as far as failing to deal with the crisis is concerned, followed by the head of presidential staff, Zakaria Azmi.
“Azmi is held accountable for so many mistakes, mistakes that originate from his constant hunger for power and his insistence on being the president’s only eye on the events.”
According to Kamal, Azmi was always against the appointment of a vice president because he knew this would limit his powers, and he forged a very strong alliance with the former interior minister, Habib al-Adli.
“He insisted that Adli remain in his position and defended him throughout.”
Regarding the role of former head of the Consultative Assembly, Egypt’s higher house of parliament, and former secretary general of the then ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), Kamal said it was difficult to determine how he contributed to the events.
“At the time of the protests, he was not even able to communicate with NDP members because he never had their landline numbers and mobile connections were cut.”
Kamal stated that the idea of cutting mobile phone connections was first suggested by Adli, yet the decision was made following a cabinet meeting.
As for the shooting of protestors, Kamal denied that Mubarak, his wife Suzanne or his son Gamal were involved.
“This never happened. I am sure of that.”
Kamal argued that the United States did not support Mubarak during the crisis because they had given up on him ever since the death of PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
(This article was translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid.)