x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

An oasis dries up

Israel's claim as the region's only democracy is no longer true thanks to Egypt, according to one Arabic language editorial. Other topics in today's roundup: potential trouble for the Brotherhood, Yemen's crisis and arms smuggling in Libya.

Time for reflection is here for Brotherhood

Amid reports of its triumph in the parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt began sending comforting messages to fellow Egyptians, said Tariq Al Homayed, the editor of the London-based Asharq Al Awsat daily.

"But the reality tells us that the Brotherhood has got itself into a conundrum as a result of its electoral victory. Ahead of it are three crucial issues that need careful handling: the Camp David treaty, the economy and the Salafis."

Politically, the Brotherhood will have look into the Camp David treaty issue on which it based its legitimacy. The moment of truth is near and it has to prove in actions rather than words if it intends to revoke the treaty, which means declaring war on Israel at a time when the Egyptian economy cannot withstand any more tremors.

Egypt isn't an oil producing country and those who rule it must depend on its own version of oil: tourism. This necessitates security and stability, which goes against the plans to revoke the Camp David treaty.

Should the Brotherhood overcome the first two hurdles, it is bound to come face to face with the Salafis, the self-proclaimed authority on all religious matters in Egypt who will become for the Brotherhood what the Brotherhood was for the Mubarak regime, an continuing opposition in every aspect.


Yemen, still in crisis, needs room to breathe

In his opinion article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan, the columnist Mazen Hammad wrote: "When the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh finally agreed to sign the GCC-backed initiative last month, we were under the impression that the progressive march towards peace would be immediately set in motion, but the flames of conflict didn't get any cooler in some areas, especially in the city of Taez where bloody confrontations continue to take place between government forces and pro-revolution factions."

It is obvious that the continuing skirmishes are undermining the efforts of the opposition leader and the interim prime minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, who threatened to review his acceptance to form a new cabinet unless the vice president intervened to stop the bloodshed.

The GCC initiative states that a military committee shall be formed to oversee the transfer of power and the disarmament across Yemen, which must start at the earliest in Taez.

"Yemen has countless problems," said the writer. "All Yemenis, including the revolutionary youth, must cease their demands for Saleh's prosecution as a precondition for stability."

The continuing pressure on all sides in a country which has approximately 50 million weapons will only drive Yemen into the abyss. What Yemen needs now is a chance to breathe.

Egypt upends Israel's "oasis of democracy"

The masses of Egyptian voters who took part last week in their country's first free elections in decades have inadvertently denied Israel the right to repeat a long-trumpeted claim: being the Middle East's lone "oasis of democracy", wrote Ibrahim Al Bahrawi, a professor of Hebrew studies at Cairo's Ain Shams University, in yesterday's edition of the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

Egyptians have long boycotted the elections because they desperately knew the results would be rigged. So when they were given enough guarantees by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that the process will be transparent this time around, they came in droves.

Israeli leaders have always capitalised on the Arab voters' apathy to present their country, by contrast, as the region's last bastion of democracy - thus worthy of western sympathy.

But it would be hard for Israel "to ever allege again that it is the only democracy in the region, and that its citizens are the only ones who go in large numbers to polling stations", the writer said.

Egyptians have also been accused by their own of being inadequate for democracy. In 2005, the Egyptian prime minister then, Ahmed Nazif, said in a statement that the Egyptian people were "not yet mature" for democratic practice.

Egyptian voters have just invalidated that claim as well.

Libya needs an army to stop arms smuggling

Every day brings news of cross-border arms smuggling in Libya, the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan stated in an editorial yesterday.

The fact that weapons may well be finding their way to Al Qaeda fighters in the Sahara desert makes this Libyan predicament of concern to the wider region of Sub Saharan Africa and North Africa, the newspaper said.

"This serious development is the result of the security vacuum that followed [months of] bloodshed in Libya and brought such an opportunity to Al Qaeda affiliates and arms dealers in the region."

It won't be easy for the still-fragile Libyan authorities to collect all the weapons on Libyan territories. For that, they would need assistance from their North African neighbours and the international community.

"Libya will have to put in some major efforts … to contain this problem of arms proliferation," the newspaper said. "The toughest part is this: building a conventional national army that brings together all the components of the Libyan people, including the various militias and armed groups."

It is a task only a national army, under whose flag all the rebels accept, can accomplish.



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk