x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Bad choices in Egypt

Arabic editorials also comment on the US withdrawal from Iraq, Palestinian unity and rebuilding trust in Bahrain.

Egypt's generals make bad hiring choices

Ever since the Egyptian revolution brought down the Mubarak regime, it has been the target for a vicious conspiracy from within the country as well as from foreign powers, wrote Abdulbari Atwan, the editor of the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi.

These conspirators are stirring trouble to derail the revolution and pave the way for a return to military dictatorship, he said.

It is painful to see the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) contributing, perhaps out of goodwill, to the success of the conspiracies, through some wrongful policies and decisions. These are provoking people, including rebellious youth who keep flooding Tahrir Square to protect the revolution.

"Nothing justifies the SCAF's insistence on going backwards and appointing Mubarak regime symbols," said the writer. "As if Egyptians wombs were incapable of bearing anyone but Dr Kamal Janzouri, or Mr Essam Sharaf before him, as prime minister."

Mr Janzouri, along with the majority of the officials SCAF is naming to top leadership positions, are well into their 70s, though more than half of Egypt's people are under the age of 25.

"The revolution erupted … to pump young, new blood into [institutions] " he argued. "But the Military Council is keen on cloning the former regime and recycling its faces and symbols under pretexts of expertise and stability; frail excuses that no one believes."

A so-called withdrawal and a doubtful victory

Much has been written and said about the US-British war on Iraq and its repercussions, said Mazen Hammad, a columnist with the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

There are those who say the US and its allies have committed the crime of the century with their barbaric assault on Iraqi territories, only to withdraw nine years later leaving in their wake millions of casualties and one of the world's highest corruption rates.

But, how can this be qualified as a withdrawal when the US is keeping a 20,000-strong embassy in Baghdad, in addition to a few thousand troops for training purposes? he asked.

"The Americans are staying behind to exploit the oil and sign oil-related contracts. It would be a misconception to think that Iraq is finally free just because the US troops withdrew and the Iraqi flag can now be seen where the US flag once fluttered."

"After one million Iraqi casualties", 5,000 US soldiers who returned home in caskets, and more than $1 trillion in military expenses, Iraq remains far from safe." Its fragile democracy could be broken by any tremor. Instead of becoming an impervious wall against Iran, as the US claimed, Iraq has become Iran's closest political and economic ally.

"In brief, the US war in Iraq failed, just as in Afghanistan and in Vietnam. The US wars and military adventures here and there have brought no true victories for their alleged democracy," the writer concluded.

Palestinians 'sick of waiting' for unity

A new round of talks between Fatah and Hamas, the rival Palestinian factions, opened in Cairo on Sunday to discuss ways to carry out the reconciliation pact they signed last spring to end five years of animosity, the West Bank-based newspaper Al Quds said in an editorial.

The Palestinian people have long waited for this reconciliation to take effect, and "have been disappointed more than once", the paper said, by the way inter-Palestinian divisions persist between the secular Fatah movement, which leads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the Islamist Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The US and Israel consider Fatah a peace partner and Hamas a terrorist organisation. The two factions disagree about how the struggle for Palestinian statehood should be achieved.

The Palestinian people are "sick of bogged-down talks, deferrals and agreements to hold more meetings while there is no end to the division in sight. That is despite the fact that … the continuing internal rift has had grave effects on the Palestinian cause," the paper added.

This time around, it would be completely unacceptable for a Palestinian official to come out of the talks and say that "more time is needed" or to put forward "any of those usual pretexts that, at best, only deepen the divide".


Bahrainis need to rebuild mutual trust

One of the worst repercussions of the violent events of last February in Bahrain is the "deep rift" that is still felt within the country's social fabric, wrote columnist Hassan Mouden in the Bahraini newspaper Al Ayam.

At least 40 people have been killed in the Kingdom of Bahrain since mid-February, when clashes broke out between security forces and protesters - believed to be predominantly Shiites - demanding more social and political rights from the minority Sunni establishment.

To restore frayed national unity and rebuild bridges between the social components of Bahrain, the writer proposed, "different type of measures must be taken".

The main goal now must be to "dissipate the atmosphere of doubt and distrust that came to characterise the relationship" between Shiites and Sunnis, the writer said.

"We have no other option but to accept Bahrain as it is, with all its social, denominational and political constituents.

"Whoever thinks that one of these constituents could be left out of the country's social map is mistaken."

Bahrain's political forces must now all concentrate on finding common denominators, not on sectarian interests, the writer concluded.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk