Mohamed Hassanein Heikal
|Mohamed Hassanein Heikal|
23 September 1923 |
Mohamed Hassanein Heikal (Arabic: محمد حسنين هيكل, born 23 September 1923) is a leading Egyptian journalist. For 17 years (1957–1974) he was editor-in-chief of the Cairo newspaper Al-Ahram and has been a respected commentator on Arab affairs for more than 50 years.
Background and literary works
Heikal articulated the thoughts of President Gamal Abdel Nasser earlier in his career. The reasons for his fall with president Anwar Sadat, who succeeded Nasser, remain under great speculation.
Heikal has been a member of the Central Committee of the Arab Socialist Union.
In 1983, Heikal published many books: Sphinx and Commissar, Cutting the Lion's Tale: Suez Through Egyptian Eyes, The Road to Ramadan and a bombshell titled Khareef Al-Ghadab (Autumn of Fury), in which he analyzed the reasons behind Sadat’s assassination and the rise of political Islam.
Heikal has written many other books, including: Nasser: The Cairo Documents, The Sphinx and the Commissar: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Influence in the Middle East, The Cairo Documents: The Inside Story of Nasser and His Relationship with World Leaders, Rebels, and Statesmen, Secret Channels: The Inside Story of Arab-Israeli Peace Negotiations, Illusions of Triumph: An Arab View of The Gulf War, Iran: The Untold Story, The Return of the Ayatollah, The Iranian Revolution from Mossadeq to Khomeini, and October War.
Heikal has been accused of using a fabricated quotation, The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man, in his 1996 book Secret Channels.
In September 2003, and upon reaching the age of 80, Heikal wrote an article in the monthly magazine Wajhat Nazar (where he had been writing for some time already) that the time has come for an "old warrior" to put down his pen and take to the sidelines. Heikal stressed that his decision to stop writing does not mean that he will disappear, but rather take to the sidelines to observe more thoroughly. In the article he also recounted a lot of the events that occurred in his life and formed his experience including his first mission as a reporter in the Second Battle of El Alamein in 1942, his friendship with Nasser and his relationship with Sadat. In addition, he opened his financial records stating the salaries he has received in all the jobs and posts he has been assigned to.
Heikal's current lecture series on Al Jazeera furnishes him with a greater platform in the Arab world, broadcasting every Thursday evening. Here he generally discusses information he acquired during his years as a journalist, historian, and a player in the political arena in Egypt's modern history. His lectures gave an overview of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of modern Arab nationalist governments. He has also lectured on the rise of the American Empire and the decline of the previous superpowers. His lectures range from general overviews to intricate details of scenes he witnessed. In addition, he has briefly discussed the events leading to the deterioration of Nasser's relationship with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the failed assassination attempt. Heikal also heavily criticized former President Hosni Mubarak's re-election attempt and suggested that no president's term should exceed ten years in office.
On July 26, 2007 Heikal announced in a lecture entitled "The Challenges in Building the Aswan Dam" his will to temporarily end his lecture series on Al Jazeera. Heikal told his audience that he needed to take a break "for a few months because [he has] provided numerous series... and because it's time to rest a little, ... hoping to come back, godwilling, in a few months if [his] age, health, and energy permit, to talk about the Arab Wars."
Heikel's regular appearances on Al Jazeera have earned him a new and unprecedented following, especially among the young, bringing him around 50,000 emails and letters a week.
In August 2008, Heikel decided to again pause his lecture series at Al Jazeera during the month of Ramadan. He is to return to lecture on the 1967 war. In November of the same year Heikel returned to Al Jazeera to cover the US elections between Barack Obama and John Mccain and restart his lectures on Arab Wars.
2007 Al Jazeera Lecture Series:
- Challenges in Building the Aswan Dam
- Aswan Dam and the National Project
- The United States and the Arab/Israeli Conflict
- Slipping into War
- Palestinians and Prospects of Settlement with Israel
- Israeli Thinking and the 1956 Events
- Conspiracy and Coup Era
- French Plans to Interfere in Egypt
- Creative Chaos and the Rivalry Links
- Conspiracy Theory
- Nasser's Debates with the West
- Prospects of Settlement in the Middle East (2)
- Prospects of Settlement in the Middle East (1)
- Nasser's Ultimate Test
- Jordan's 1956 Storm
- Behind the Arms Deal
- Security and National Peace
- Arms Deals in the Arab World
- Geneva Convention and the Importance of 1955
- Bandong Convention
- Preparing for Plan Alpha
- Israeli Penetration in the Region
- Nasser's Meeting with UK's Foreign Secretary
- 1955 and the Arab Division
- 1955 and the Distinguishing Symbols
2008 Al Jazeera Lecture Series:
- Mine in the Aqaba Gulf
- Israel's Nuclear Weapons
- Politics and History
- World on the Verge of Chaos
- World Foreign and Internal Politics
- Understanding of War in Nations
- Arab Resistance and Aid
- War Era: Strategy and Politics
- Arab False Battles
- Instance of True Revolution
- America Leads the World
- Palestine: Right Refuses to be Forgotten (2)
- Palestine: Right Refuses to be Forgotten (1)
- Israel's View on Egyptian Role in the Region
- Series of Crises in the Time of War
- The Naked Empire
- Alliance of Empires
- Monsters With Eight Heads
- Egyptian Armament and Israel's Security
- Decision Projects Associated with Suez
- Suez War
- Conspiracy Theory
- National Security Boundaries
- Protecting Suez Canal
- Seven Plans to Invade
- Suez Battle and War Era
- Truth of Wars the Arabs Fought
- National Security Theories
- Arriving Tremors
- War Era
In an audience with UK journalist Robert Fisk, Heikal openly spoke about the current situation in Egypt and strongly criticized Egyptian president Mubarak, saying that Mubarak lives in a "world of fantasy" in Sharm al Sheikh. These comments stirred an uproar within Egyptian society, both for and against Heikal. Heikal did not comment on this criticism except later on Al Jazeera, where he said that he stands by what he has said earlier, adding that Mubarak had not entered political life until very late, which means he lacks necessary experience.
- Heikal or the secret file of arab memory, Riadh Sidaoui, (هيكل أو الملف السري للذاكرة العربية), Centre arabe de recherches et d'analyses, Beyrouth, 2003
- The Liberation War of Palestine: Conspiracy of the Jews and Arabs' stand (1996)
- There isn't a target in Afghanistan worth a $1m missile - Mohamed Heikal, the Arab world's foremost political commentator, Guardian, Stephen Moss, October 10, 2001
- Chasing the paper trail, Al-Ahram, July 26, 2007
- “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man”: Historical Fabrication and an Anti-Zionist Myth", Shai Afsai, Shofar, Vol. 30, No. 3 ♦ 2012, pp. 50-1
- Mohamed Hasseinein Heikel: The wise man of the Middle East, Independent, Robert Fisk, April 9, 2007
- various articles, Al-Ahram Weekly
- The short film Interview With Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1972) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]