x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

A dramatic shift from epic enthusiasm to tragic disappointment

Editorials in regional newspapers comment on the political situation in Egypt, the Algerian elections and the fall of Sarkozy.

An attack on Saudi Arabia's embassy in Cairo, sit-ins to call for an end to Scaf's political role, bloody clashes, parliament protest over the cabinet, controversy over standards to form the constitution panel tasked with drafting the new constitution, hue and cry over time-frame set by Scaf to draft up the constitution - list of Egypt's woes goes on.

"These are a few snapshots of the political scene and power struggle in the new Egypt, in the aftermath of an aborted and hijacked revolution," wrote Abdelilah Belqziz in an opinion piece for the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

Thankfully, the power struggle in Egypt has been restricted to the forces zealously taking part in the "holy" battle for power; however, this peaceful pushing and shoving should not mask other potential risks latent "behind the heat of media's and political debates, and rituals of show of force and muscle-flexing in public squares".

Today, in the name of the revolution, every contender for power in Egypt speaks about "setting right" the course of the derailed revolution. "Everyone thinks they are right, and those who are in the wrong endanger the revolution".

"It goes without saying that reducing the Jan 25 revolution to mere elections is the worst insult to the revolution," the writer asserted.

The polemics heat up in the build up to the big day: the presidential elections. But as heated as it is, this "political storm is taking place solely in the teacup of power-struggling elites and parties".

Meanwhile, the wider public has tended to be as apprehensive and unenthusiastic as never before. The reasons abound.

Within one year, Egyptians experienced "a dramatic shift from epic enthusiasm to tragic disappointment: from great expectations for a better future opened up by the revolution to grave doubts in what is in store for them".

In today's Egypt, the issue of security and bread-winning attracts more attention than the issue of "democracy".

The latter seems a "mirage in the plate of a political stratum whose only concern is power".

To attain power, it does matter if they have to strain the atmosphere by antagonising others, point accusations at the military, the church, Al Azhar University, and so on and so forth.

"Apathy can be the worst outcome ever of any revolution out there," the writer warned. "My worst fear is that Egyptians develop this incurable epidemic, albeit they are not guilty about this finale, being driven into it by elites that put their own partisan interests over that of the nation".

But there is still a beam of hope in righting all these wrongs. This can be done through humanising and moralising the struggle for power and restoring Egyptians' trust in politics.

A revolution needs more time to blossom

On Saturday, Algeria's prime minister called for the preservation of his country's stability in upcoming polls on May 10. He argued that the models seen so far in the Arab countries are no Arab Spring but rather a plague wreaking havoc in the region.

In response, the columnist Mazen Hammad wrote in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan: "I believe that the Algerian prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, lacks sufficient depth in matters of politics and history, which justifies his description of the Arab Spring as a plague that led to the colonisation of Iraq, the destruction of Libya, the partition of Sudan and the weakening of Egypt."

It is indeed a spring that is just starting and has yet to blossom. This is how history rolls out and the changes sweeping through the Middle East would need years if not decades to stabilise.

"It is unacceptable for the prime minister of Algeria to describe the Egyptian revolution as a disintegration process in the largest Arab state," added the writer. "Since when is mutiny against injustice and dictatorship a process of disintegration?"

The statements of the Algerian official fall under the rubric of over-simplification of complex facts and radical transformations in concepts and criteria that promise to lead towards an era of peace and prosperity.

In France, it's goodbye monsieur Sarkozy

It seems that French and the European public opinion in general is utterly frustrated with radical rightists and is developing a penchant towards mellow politics, which explains the fall of Tony Blair in the UK, Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Nicolas Sarkozy in France, said the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial following Francois Hollande's victory in the French presidential elections on Sunday.

There were many reasons that led to Mr Sarkozy's downfall and to Mr Hollande's rise, but the former's main mistake was that he tried to change France's political identity by adhering to the US politics, a move that Paris has been resisting historically.

Economy and immigrants were the focal points of the presidential race and the positions of both candidates couldn't have been more diverging on both issues.

While the incumbent president approached the immigration issue from a radical right-winged point of view, promising to limit it, his socialist opponent opted for a more humanitarian strategy promising to legitimise more than a quarter million illegal immigrants.

In response to his predecessor's politics of harsh austerity, the new president promised a more lenient stance that encourages growth and creates jobs.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk