x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Assad more disconnected than ever

After all this, how can Bashar Al Assad imagine himself ever again governing a peaceful country, asks an Arabic-language columnist. Another writer praises Mohammed Morsi's Tahrir speech.

In the absence of a rational solution, violence remains the only course of action for Al Assad

It looks as if no one knows how to handle Syria’s problems better than President Bashar Al Assad. For this reason, he allows himself to reject any non-Syrian solution, observed Hussam Itani, a columnist with the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.
Mr Al Assad’s statements in a recent television interview can be interpreted as a pre-emptive effort to block any deal among the international powers that convened in Geneva yesterday to look into ways to resolve the continuing conflict and stop the bloodletting in Syria.
“Mr Al Assad seems more disconnected than ever from the multifaceted reality on the ground,” opined the writer.
“In one aspect, there is the Russian role that is currently running the diplomatic and media campaign to the benefit of the Damascus regime.”
But, much like the regime, the Russians don’t give much weight to internal factors and perceive that they will be able to keep Mr Al Assad, or at least his regime, in the Syrian cockpit.
Another aspect to the reality of the crisis is that the regime is gradually collapsing and a large number of its institutions are incapable of performing their functions.
This fact makes the struggle over Syria’s geostrategic position in the mini-Cold War happening around it seem like a secondary detail.
Mr Al Assad didn’t elaborate on his vision for the “Syrian and national solution” he is envisioning to ends the crisis. But it is no riddle what that position is.
In the same interview, the Syrian president alluded to the rebel fighters as terrorists, only a day after he addressed the country’s newly appointed cabinet to announce that Syria is in a state of real war.
“This then is the solution that the regime has never strayed from, ever since a security officer in Deraa decided to pull out the fingernails of some schoolchildren who wrote anti-Assad slogans on the walls of their town,” said the columnist.
This has been the set course for a mind that proved time and time again its inability to envision a political way out of the crisis it has brought on itself.
As the relentless fighting rages on in Syria, killing an average of 100 people every day, Mr Al Assad remains adamant about wiping out the “terrorists” that he manages to find everywhere in his country.
“It is difficult to conceive how Mr Al Assad envisages himself leading the country after he has led a destructive war against it and has torn up its social fabric,” the writer said.
“More difficult would be the rebuilding from the material and the moral devastation that has left towns in ruins and people imbued with intolerance towards each other and full of concern for the future.”

Multiple challenges and hurdles await new Egyptian president on the way to reforms

Rarely have Arab citizens everywhere been so keen to listen to an Arab president delivering a speech. It is a tradition that became obsolete during the last four decades that marked the extinction of some great leaders, observed Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Al Quds Al Arabi.
“But Friday’s speech by the Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in Tahrir Square, amid hundreds of thousands of revolution supporters, was truly exceptional,” he said.
“Mr Morsi’s address was that of a man of state, a man who came from the people and is for the people. It was an address brimming with the meanings of pride and challenge that had disappeared from the repertoire of his predecessors,” he added.
Mr Morsi’s public discourse was laden with messages in various directions. It was addressed as an ultimatum to Israel, although he didn’t name that country as he vowed to defend Egypt and its people against any aggression.
To the United States, he asserted that Egypt is now free and independent and that it won’t be a follower of any other power.
And in a message to the military council, he made sure to stress that the people are the supreme source of power and legitimacy in Egypt from now on.
“They wanted him to be an insipid president with no real powers, but he pledged to be anything but that when he reiterated his intent to reclaim all of his presidential prerogatives,” said Atwan.
It may be premature optimism, for the real test for the man’s integrity will come soon, when it is time to translate words into actions under explosive domestic and regional circumstances.
But Mr Morsi won his title fair and square through free and democratic elections and he arrived in the political arena after years of struggle for reforms and change.
The coming days will be tricky for the new president, since his opponents are sure to begin their detraction efforts as soon as the swearing-in ceremony ends.
Their aim is to hand him virtual power only, and transform him into a mere ceremonial president whose job is to greet dignitaries and smile for cameras.
Three critical challenges await Mr Morsi and they will determine his future as president and the future of the democratic process in Egypt:
Bringing the all-powerful military under the control of the state, purging the security apparatus of its old thuggish ways and, most importantly, saving the economy and creating millions of jobs for the unemployed, in a country where more than 40 million people live under the poverty line.
* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk