Diary of Dictator M, aged 82¾: fight, not flight

As uncovered by Khaled Diab

In the second leaked extract from his secret diaries, President M is enraged by what he sees as an unpresidented act of cowardice and treachery.

Friday 18 February 2011

14 January 2011

I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. How could Zine do it? How could he permit himself to abandon his post like some common criminal fleeing the scene of a crime, rather than staying put like the resistance hero and army man he's supposed to be?

I don't know if I can ever forgive cowardice of this sort – and from a man who never tired of boasting about how his political iron fist kept his subjects faithful and his social velvet glove kept them sweet. And to think that he used to berate me for being too soft, for not crushing the independent media and that stupid Kefaya movement calling for my resignation, as if would be better off without me – I, who fixed the wreck my predecessors left me.

“Let the dogs bark. It's only when they try to bite or begin to believe that they're wolves that they need to be culled,” I had told him once nonchalantly, hiding my irritation at his affront to my manhood, in an informal meeting he and I had after a particularly ugly Arab League summit during which that Q (or G as he's known at home), who thinks he's Nasser's prodigy and a film star or something, managed to insult every head of state in the room.

“These ideas of freedom can spread like a deadly virus if not wiped out immediately,” Zine had had the gall to lecture me. “If not for yourself, then think about your brothers in arms.”

“Brothers in arms,” I'd thought, stifling a very unstatesmanly snort of derision. “Where was this brotherhood when helped stab Egypt in the back and agreed to the relocation of the Arab League to Tunis?” But not wishing to go down the Q path of insults and silly allegations, I sat up stiffly in my chair to indicate that our time was up. “We have the vaccine for any virus and the antidote for any venom,” I retorted mysteriously. The truly tough don't need to boast about it. There are men who can do the talking and true men who can do the walking.

On the phone with a visibly rattled and panicky president telling me he was desperately looking around for shelter from the storm, I decided to let loose my years of suppressed annoyance. “Who's abandoning the cause now, brother Zine? What happened to your iron fist? Did it get blunted by the velvet glove? All these years, have you been a pussy cat pretending to roar like a lion?”

“Even lions know that there comes a time when they are outnumbered and must retreat,” he roared angrily down the phone. “I would advise you to have an exit strategy if you don't have one already, my dear friend,” he said, calming.

“Exit? Egypt? No way. Not if all hell breaks loose. I am a son of the Nile and I will die on this country's sacred soil,” I stated defiantly and eloquently, making a mental note that I should use this in a speech to silence all those envious of my power who have to resort to criticising my speaking skills.

“Before you commit your cowardly deed, your action could make the virus you feared for so long mutate into a thousand and one deadly strains,” I warned him. When this had no effect, I tried a different track: “Leaders like us have very few places to hide. The times are changing. They'll get you extradited back to face trial or say you embezzled from the state and seize all your foreign assets.”

“Don't worry, my good friend Sarkozy will take me in and my wealth is well-hidden,” he assured me. “And if not, there's always you, my old friend. You've done wonders with Sharm el-Sheikh.”

“Cowards are not welcome here,” I screamed at him, before slamming down the phone and collapsing out of breath. A moment of darkness later, I saw Gamal's reassuring face staring down at me.

“Don't get yourself so worked up, father, it's not good for your condition. You're still the rayes whether people like it or not,” he comforted me. I smiled up helplessly. I don't know where I'd be without Gamal's youth and brains, especially after all the trials of my long and trying career. “And if they try, we ready with plans A to Z to deal with them. And if all else fails, I've already prepared a number of escape routes.”

“Escape?” I asked in disbelief. “Even you, Gamal?”

“And we can work together to ensure that your hard-earned fortune is well hidden from prying eyes,” he continued.

Will Dictator M face the ultimate standoff with his ungrateful people? Will he stay to fight or will he take flight? Find out in the next leaked entry. Coming soon. Read part I


  • Khaled Diab

    Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, blogger and writer who has been based in Tunis, Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva and Cairo. Khaled also gives talks and is regularly interviewed by the print and audiovisual media. Khaled Diab is the author of two books: Islam for the Politically Incorrect (2017) and Intimate Enemies: Living with Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land (2014). In 2014, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded Khaled its Mediterranean Journalist Award in the press category. This website, The Chronikler, won the 2012 Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for the best English-language blog. Khaled was longlisted for the Orwell journalism prize in 2020. In addition, Khaled works as communications director for an environmental NGO based in Brussels. He has also worked as a communications consultant to intergovernmental organisations, such as the EU and the UN, as well as civil society. Khaled lives with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Katleen, who works in humanitarian aid. The foursome is completed by Iskander, their smart, creative and artistic son, and Sky, their mischievous and footballing cat. Egyptian by birth, Khaled's life has been divided between the Middle East and Europe. He grew up in Egypt and the UK, and has lived in Belgium, on and off, since 2001. He holds dual Egyptian-Belgian nationality.

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2 thoughts on “Diary of Dictator M, aged 82¾: fight, not flight

  • Ahmed Mansour

    Nice, can’t wait for part III to come out

    Via Facebook

  • Steve Snedeker

    What a chicken.

    Via Facebook


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