My place of employment, of the past month, is definitely much more entertaining and interesting than my previous job experience.
These days, seeing that my boss is on vacation, I’ve been burdened by quite a large volume of work. This usually translates into my having to stay extra hours (and sometimes weekends), to ensure that I don’t lag behind in my responsibilities. This has, obviously, meant increased interaction with the only other person who remains after regular working hours – the security guy.
There are in fact three security guards at my place of employemnt. They work in shifts; two alternating the morning and afternoon shifts and the remaining guard only working nights. Because of this increased interaction, I have managed to be-friend all three… at various levels of “friendship” (I’ve only known/seen them for a month). My favourite one is Assem. Guessing from his stories, I would say he’s in his mid-forties.
He’s my favourite because he used to be a reserve officer in the Egyptian Armed Forces. Not only that, he used to be an officer of the Air Defense Forces (El-defaa El-gawee). My years-old hobby of collecting books and information on weapons, of all sorts, automatically gave us both a common topic that we can both discuss.
Over the days (weeks now) that I’ve remained after working hours, our conversations expanded to discuss Egyptian Politics, the War in Lebanon, Corruption, Land Reclamation (His bachelor’s Degree was in Agriculture), Electronics & Circuits (His long-time money-on-the-table job, even before graduating from University) as well as your regular office gossip (ashamedly enough).
Just a half-hour before this post was written, I went to the office kitchen to make myself a cup of tea, and found him there sipping on his own tea. He offered me a ciggarette and I accepted and sat down for a smoke with my tea (we closed the kitchen door and turned on this huge fan-thing they have in there).
He started talking, and a few words into his sentence I realized that the topic of the day would be corruption. So we talked corruption. We discussed Ayman Nou, Hussam abo el Fotouh and the Judges issue. This didn’t last for 5 minutes before the topic moved to Weapons of Mass Destruction.
He said that Israel has Nuclear weapons, to which I replied with “Egypt has Chemical & Biological weapons… or so I hear”. He shook his head.
He said that was the reasons Abo Ghazala was removed from office. He realized that his President & Commander-in-Chief was a *expletive that I can’t translate at this point* and because he was a pure military man, he realized that Egypt would not be safe from the Israelis. Assem claimed that he had the Egyptian Military manufacturing Mustard Gas in what seemed to be an aerosol producing factory at Alexandria.
So basically there was no “deterrent” against Israel’s possible use of Nuclear weapons against the Egyptian Armed Forces. He then moved on to conventional weapons by mentioning that the Merkava, Israel’s primary Main Battle Tank (MBT), was fitted to fire missiles. (This has not been verified). Allow me to digress here for a second to explain the significance of this statement. Tanks usually carry various types of shells; Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (not sure if I’ve forgotten anything there) [I like its generic name: The Long Rod Penetrator. Is it because I'm male? Probably.], High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT), High Explosive Anti-Personnel (HEAP) would be the main ones. The M-1A1, which Egypt has the largest amount of, outside of the United States, uses these as primary armament.
The M-1A1, according to a source that I’d read from before but cannot remember, has a maximum firing-range of four kilometers. Missiles can have, easily, three to four times that range. Thus the M-1′s advantage (and four kilometers is an advantage) is invalidated. Keep in mind that the largest amount of Israeli tanks that fell, both in 1973 and in the War in Lebanon, were because of either Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs), mines or Anti-tank guided missiles (like the Sagger that Egypt used in 1973).
So basically, the security guy was saying that we wouldn’t be able to stand up against them… or so I thought. I forgot to mention that earlier in the conversation he’d specifically said that Arab rulers keep using the Israel/America cards to scare their people [into submission].
The next 10 minutes was about the 1973 & 1967 wars, prisoners-of-war and things of that nature. Nothing of relevance was mentioned.
I then asked him if he’s saying that we’re bound to lose if we enter any war and, more to the point, if the Arab rulers are then correct with their claims.
He replied by saying, “la, enta fehemtenee ghalat. Dana kont ba’ool 7aga tanya khales. El yahood doal 3omrohom ma momken ye7arbook waghan le wagh. Dayman lazem yestekhabo warra 7aga. Dee maktooba fel Qur’an *Rough Qur’an quote by him*. Ya3nee momken ne3tebr khat Bar-Lev keda…”
*Rough Translation goes as follows:” No, you misunderstood me. I was actually saying something totally different. (These) Jews would never fight you face to face. They always have to hide behind something. It is written in the Qur’an *Rough Qur’an quote by him*. So, we can think of the Bar-Lev line as falling under that category…”
Though we continued talking, all I was thinking was: Why did you have to bring Jews & The Qur’an into this?! Why did you have to quote the Qur’an at me?
Before any of this post’s readers come to any hasty conclusions, let me clarify that Assem doesn’t seem like a religious person. He smokes, swears (albeit very very very lightly) and I haven’t seen him pray in the time I’ve known him.
Still, he keeps saying Muslims, Jews, Qur’an quite a number of times. It’s not as if I’m an atheist. I just like to keep god out of it. I fancy myself an agnostic but, still, I suppose its the idea that one doesn’t have complete control over one’s life that doesn’t sit well with me. Either way, I get quite irritated when people say that because I generally feel like it’s an excuse for failure (though in this case, Assem wasn’t making excuses. He specifically said it was because they make good weapons and good fortifications and used the Vickers Gun – which made me chuckle until this website informed me that Israel did, in fact, have Vickers guns in 1973.)
Either way, I just wanted to say that people would be able to think of more open-ended possiblities and solutions (in addition to lessening my discomfort) if they were to stop saying: The Jews, The Qur’an & The Prophet. Just say: Those fucking Israelis.
Works out mighty fine that way.