x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

All the Arab Spring countries are drifting into a kind of Iraq-like state, writes Al Hayat's editor Ghassan Charbel. Other topics today: Egyptian justice and Tunisian pragmatism.

As the “Arab Spring” began to unfold three years ago, some people in the Arab region were suddenly infatuated with the Turkish model, wrote Ghassan Charbel, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

At the time, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was behaving as if he had the magic recipe to solve the region’s issues.

But, soon enough, the campaign to promote the Turkish model came to a halt with the emergence of specificities and facts in the Arab Spring’s various theatres. The first shock was the start of a long and destructive war in Syria. Egypt required a second revolution as the first was derailed due to Muslim Brotherhood practices. For its part Libya didn’t adopt the Turkish model, either. Nor did Yemen. As for Tunisia, nothing is certain yet.

“Events proved that the Turkish model isn’t a cloak that can be borrowed and altered to suit a country’s measurements,” the writer said. “It is based on the long Ataturk experience and the level of economic progress as well as the maturity of the Islamists, which was reached as a result of difficult manoeuvres with the army charged with protecting the Turkey’s secular heritage,” he added.

The armies and institutions in Arab Spring countries are nothing like Ataturk’s army and institutions, he added.

An objective look at the states that lost their symbols of dictatorship or foundations of stability as a result of the Spring shows that these countries are going down the Iraqi road more than any other.

Iraq has a constitution that was approved by the people, but it doesn’t solve institutional issues. In Iraq, elections are held on time, but they don’t rescue the country from its difficult situation. Political process exists but doesn’t prevent the exacerbation of the coexistence crisis. Iraq has an army, but that doesn’t preclude the proliferation of terrorist militias. The Iraqi government draws its legitimacy from the ballot, nonetheless, it practices marginalisation and alienation.

This is the model that seems the closest to reality in various Arab countries today. The powerful central state is a thing of the past as in each of the Spring countries, change brought about a flaccid state that coexists with what resembles a permanent civil war on its territories.

“It is sufficient to take a look at what is happening in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Tunisia to see the similarities. Brittle or non-existent states with disintegrating institutions and partisan or tribal radicalism,” the writer said.

“The proliferation of the Iraqi model means more conflicts and losses await the region. They bring with them more disintegration, poverty, terrorism and immigration and pave the way for the emergence of extremism,” he concluded.

Egyptian justice will gain from Morsi’s trial

The trial of the deposed Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, started yesterday, and that fact marks the culmination of the will of those millions of Egyptians who revolted last summer against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Cairo-based, pro-military newspaper Al Ahram asserted in its editorial in yesterday’s edition.

Mr Morsi is being tried on charges of inciting the murder of a number of protesters outside the presidential palace in Heliopolis last year.

Fourteen other leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were all arrested after the unseating of Mr Morsi in July, are also being put on trial.

Under the title The people try Morsi and his Brothers, the newspaper wrote: “The fair trial that the ejected president and the other 14 Brotherhood leaders will receive will help entrench the state of law in Egypt.

“It will send out the message that no one is above the law, that impunity is no longer an option, not even for the head of state. For here is Mr Morsi entering the cage of accusation, following in the footsteps of the deposed president, Hosni Mubarak.”

Due judicial process will mute the voices of all those who claim that the measures that were taken against Mr Morsi and his party were politicised, the paper said. “Whether coming from inside or outside, these voices will now be silenced.”

Ennahda avoided the Brotherhood’s blunder

Ennahda, Tunisia’s Islamist party that has led a coalition government since the post-revolution elections, seems to be more pragmatic than its Egyptian counterpart the Freedom and Justice Party, wrote Abdelilah Belqziz, a Moroccan columnist, in yesterday’s edition of the UAE-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

That is what one is led to believe after Ennahda’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, made the announcement that his party has agreed to dissolve the government, form a cabinet of technocrats and engage in a national dialogue on the country’s future.

“Ennahda did what it couldn’t get around doing to avoid the same fate that befell the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,” Belqziz wrote.

Ennahda understood that “losing power at some point is not the end of the world for a political party that has confidence in itself and in its supporters”.

Some might argue that Ennahda has squandered too much time – over a year, actually – to make these concessions, and that it has missed an earlier opportunity to gain more legitimacy and cement its prestige by showing a quicker response to popular discontent, the writer noted. “But going back on a mistake, though belatedly, is 1,000 times better than sinking deeper into the mistake.”

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk