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DURING the tripartite discussions in Yalta among the leaders – Soviet Union’s Stalin, Britain’s Churchill and America’s Roosevelt – concerning the reorganization of the world after World War II, Roosevelt wrote a note on a piece of paper and handed it to Churchill.
After reading it, Churchill threw the note in an ashtray in front of him and burnt it. After that he responded with a note which Roosevelt read and then threw into the ashtray. However, since Roosevelt did not smoke any cigarettes, the note remained intact.
As soon as the leaders left the negotiating table, the KGB quickly picked up the note written by Churchill. It read: “The eagle is old and cannot fly out of the nest anyway!”
The Soviet security forces interpreted these words as a reference to the assassination of an old senior figure. They assumed that Stalin was the old eagle. The security officers worked tirelessly to decipher the note. They went through the Bible and even the works of Shakespeare, Dickens and Alice in Wonderland, but they did not find any convincing explanation.
Hence, the Soviet security forces scrambled and beefed up its presidential security in anticipation of an assassination attempt against the Russian president, given that the security interpretation of the nest was where the meeting was being held.
In the end, there were no unpleasant surprises. The leaders returned to their countries safely, and no attempts were made on the life of Stalin as analysed by his security personnel.
Several years later, a Soviet interpreter happened to be with Churchill in Yalta at that time. He decided to ask him what he had meant in his mysterious note. Churchill replied, “Sure… Roosevelt had written to me – “Mr. Churchill, your zipper is open” — and I assured him by saying — “The old eagle wouldn’t fly out of the nest anyway.”
This incident is an example of the kind of misinformation that the heads of state receive from the security officers who interpret everything according to their vision or to serve their own interests, which leads to wrong and hasty decisions.
In this regard, I remember the time when the so-called “popular movement” intensified and the “Dignity of the Nation” rallies were held between 2011 and 2012. At that time, some reports were submitted to the late His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad with estimates that the number of participants in some rallies was about 300,000, and some others four hundred.
At that time, MP Jamaan Al-Harbash told one of the satellite TV channels, “The number of protestors has exceeded 300,000”. During a speech in front of the protestors, he issued a threat by saying, “Prepare your men and we are preparing ours”.
I remember the time when we were at the lunch table of His Highness the Amir, and there was talk about these rallies. I then said the number does not exceed 3,000 or 4,000 at best.
Some of the attendees objected to me, and said, “Present your evidence for what you say”. I replied, “Currently, there are drones that you can use to enumerate the participants in those rallies. The last of the rallies had more than 3,000 participants but half of them were servants and police officers”.
This was what was published by Al-Seyassah newspaper and some other newspapers that do not flatter subversive groups. All the while, the late His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad was listening attentively and not commenting on the conversation.
Of course, at that time, the game of bullying and political blackmail was at its peak, especially since there was a conflict between some members of the ruling family. Each of them was trying to exploit these rallies for personal benefit. This happened at a time when the game of interests between security officers and those elders was being managed in a way that suggested that the country was in a major crisis, which some Arab satellite channels had exaggerated.
At that time, His Highness met with some Kuwaiti nobles. With his usual wisdom, he presented to them what was being plotted against the country. That was when he said his famous phrase – “Kuwait was almost lost”. He had then issued the famous decrees of necessity, including the one-vote decree that restored the electoral system to its proper course.
There is no doubt that dishonesty in conveying the facts to the head of state leads to catastrophic consequences. For example, Saddam Hussein relied on Iraqi intelligence reports for everything. It reached such an extent that Iraq turned into something like a mass grave due to the elimination of hundreds of thousands. Also, tens of thousands became victims of vendettas of the informants who considered them as opponents.
For instance, the most famous mass execution ceremony took place in 1979 in Khuld Hall in Baghdad, where Saddam killed all Baathist officials who were likely to pose a threat to his rule. This measure was based on security rumors about these figures being agents of the Syrian regime, and President Hafez Al-Assad, and many intelligence officers who later became close to the Iraqi leadership.
Another incident involving victims of false reports was the famous execution orgy in North Korea where 1,382 government officials were killed within one day in the year 2000 by order of President Kim Jong Il, the father of the current president. Observers considered it a prelude to preparing the scene for Kim Jong Un. According to international media, it was also based on security reports filled with allegations.
Undoubtedly, the leaders of some Arab countries are aware of this aspect. Instead of relying on the reports of security officers, they opened their doors to their people, and were able to address many of the problems caused by those officers who were seeking to achieve their personal interests at the expense of their country and people.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times