x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The spirit of late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser continues to inspire, 43 years after his death, and the nation must accept all its leaders. Other views: the regime of Omar Al Bashir must fall in Sudan and violence is affecting all sectors of Iraqi.

September 28 was the 43rd anniversary of the death of the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, the prominent pan-Arabist statesman who was the subject of much controversy at home and abroad but who keeps inspiring generations of Arabs.

Mostafa Al Faqi, formerly the Mubarak regime’s chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the Egyptian parliament, contributed a column in the pro-government Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram yesterday saying that when the Egyptian revolution brought down the regime of January 25, 2011, the late Nasser was there in spirit.

“Out of all the great Egyptian leaders – and there are many of them – the revolutionaries held up Nasser’s pictures,” he wrote.

Nasser had his detractors, the writer conceded, including prominent Egyptian novelistTawfiq Al Hakim who, after an initial period of great admiration for Nasser’s leadership, became one of his staunchest posthumous critics.

“In his book Awdat Al Wa’ei (The Return of Awareness), Al Hakim excoriated Nasser, his rule and politics at a time when the late leader became the target of a fierce campaign that turned his victories into defeats and his achievements into blunders,” the columnist said.

Nasser was accused of everything from “compromising the fertility of arable land in Egypt” – because of his supposedly flawed agricultural reforms – to the ill-advised nationalisation of the Suez Canal in 1956, which his detractors say brought an unnecessary war on the country, since the canal was under a concession deal that was due to expire in 1969 anyway.

“All of these points are clearly refutable,” the writer noted.

“First, Nasser’s era was truly the era of ‘bright stars’. It was the era after Second World War, when great names started to shine on the world stage – names like de Gaulle, Khrushchev, Nehru, Nasser and Nkrumah.

“It was the era of charismatic leadership, of the masses, and of national liberation and nationalism.”

Secondly, Nasser’s detractors cannot properly assess his legacy using today’s measures. They should put his leadership in its historical context, the writer observed, adding that one should call to mind the “challenges that were facing him and the plots that were being knitted around him”.

Thirdly, one must not forget that it was Nasser’s time that really defined modern Egypt, that gave the country its character and prestige, turning it into a leading nation in the Arab and Muslim worlds, the author noted.

In conclusion, he called on Egyptians to engage in “a historical reconciliation” with all of their leaders in the modern era, including Mr Mubarak and former President Mohammed Morsi, who was unseated by the military in July.

Arduous time ahead for the Sudanese

Should the popular demonstrations in Sudan persist, they threaten to escalate into a new revolution that escalates beyond protests about the price of fuel and calls for the regime to fall, said columnist Hazem Saghiya in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

In the meantime, president Omar Al Bashir’s regime seems to be doing nothing to counter this. He doesn’t hesitate to resort to the usual accusatory rhetoric and to point fingers at fictitious terrorist groups.

This is at a time when it seemed that the Arab Spring has reached the end of its cycle.

Sudan stands at a crossroads. Its people are impoverished and its president is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

But despite the strong yearning for freedom and the urge to bring down a failed despotic regime, the reality is that Sudan lacks unity among its various political powers – a factor that was instrumental in ousting two previous dictatorships in the country in 1964 and in 1985.

“Since he seized power in 1989 in an Islamic coup over the democratic regime at the time, Mr Al Bashir has made it his mission to undermine and dismantle any political competition in the country,” the writer noted.

The road to a post-Al Bashir era in Sudan doesn’t promise to be easier or shorter than similar roads in other Arab countries that had revolutions.

But no matter what, he concluded, Al Bashir must fall.

No one is exempt from the violence in Iraq

Iraq has seen a sharp rise in violence in the past few months, evoking fears of a strong return of sectarian violence, the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi said in its editorial yesterday.

More than 4,600 people – most of them civilians – have been killed in dozens of attacks in Iraq this year. Of those, nearly 1,900 were in the last three months.

Terrorism targets everyone in Iraq today. It is not restricted to one specific area.

The sector administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government, which has enjoyed relative stability in the past six years and distanced itself from Sunni-Shiite conflicts, has been attacked with car bombs that caused dozens of fatalities.

“Attacks throughout Iraq reflect the deplorable political situation in the country ten years after the US invasion,” the newspaper stated.

“There are killers from every side in Iraq today – jihadists and militiamen that attack just about any target.

“But, looking at all those suicide attacks, one wonders whether the perpetrators, jihadists and militiamen, are really hoping to go to heaven or simply running away from the life of hell that the citizens are made to endure due to the failure of the state?” it added.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk translation@thenational.ae