x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Brotherhood has lost its street credibility

The Islamists have shown their true colours in Egypt and Tunisia, a commentator says. Today's other topics: Syria's chemical weapons, and the habit of tyranny.

Muslim Brothers losing their street credibility as citizens assess their politics of exclusion

"If you haven't been quite sure what the Muslim Brotherhood was all about, you no longer need to read books about them, just observe what they're doing," Emirati columnist Mohammed Al Hammadi wrote in yesterday's edition of the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper Al Ittihad.

The consistently divisive and one-sided manoeuvres of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or of Ennahda, its counterpart in Tunisia, sum up the vision and mission of the Brotherhood adequately.

"If anyone cares to know what the Brotherhood are going to do if they come to power in their country, let them appreciate the work of the Brotherhood in Egypt … or in Tunisia," he wrote.

Wherever they are, the Brotherhood "think the same way and act the same way". They uncoil in the same fashion and lunge towards the same goals, the writer said.

Only days after the huge controversy over the constitutional declaration by President Mohammed Morsi last month, granting himself unchallengeable powers and sidelining the judiciary, Egyptians were in for a fresh double shock.

First, a draft of what could well become the country's constitution was approved by an overwhelmingly pro-Brotherhood constituent assembly, despite protests by liberals, Christians, young activists, public figures and the independent press, who all question the assembly's neutrality. Then, Mr Morsi issued a decision to hold the referendum on this new constitution on December 15, notwithstanding the reigning turmoil and confusion.

"Indeed, the gullible masses that had nurtured grand fantasies about the rule of the Brotherhood are waking up to a terrible nightmare," the columnist said.

The Brotherhood have proven their unwillingness to listen to voices other than their own, and have chosen to go it alone, with only the Salafists on their side.

Also writing for Al Ittihad, Emirati writer Mohammed Al Sowafi said: "Democracy brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, but that didn't solve any problems, it just made them worse. The flaw, however, isn't in the concept of democracy. It's in the Brotherhood themselves."

What is happening in Egypt is reminiscent of the post-independence era in the Arab world, he argued. The vacuum left by the colonisers in Iraq, Syria and Egypt was exploited by populist ideologues who trumpeted fine slogans about "resurrection" (Baath) and nationalism.

But that was all the capital they had; they didn't really have a project for the nation, the writer said. All they wanted was power.

The same is true of the Brotherhood which, given its narrow "clan" ideology, doesn't seem to have anything particular to offer Egyptians, aside from lofty promises of a forthcoming state of law and justice - a prospect that, as Tahrir Square protesters will tell you, is ever-receding.

'Eager Lion' is ready to stop a chemical attack

For the fourth time, Washington has warned Damascus against deploying chemical weapons and indicated that any such step would solicit an immediate response, wrote the columnist Rajeh Al Khouri in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

This time around, the warning is more serious than ever and that is for two reasons, he explained.

First, the US has already addressed such an ultimatum through Russia, the Syrian regime's ally. This implies that Washington is holding Moscow responsible, at least morally, for any such eventuality.

Second, developments on the ground indicate that the rebels are gaining the advantage and the regime is on the verge of collapse.

"US warnings don't stop at words and statements. It is a known fact that a military action plan has already been set up to counter any such incident in Syria," the writer said.

Reports from defecting army officials reveal that the Assad regime has indeed made plans to use these weapons as a last resort, and that chemical warheads have been developed to be transported to Hizbollah.

Syria's chemical weapon warehouses are under constant US surveillance. The "Eager Lion" plan, which includes 19 countries, is ready for immediate implementation to either prevent the transport of chemical weapons or to destroy them on location.

Disease of tyranny infects everybody

"Unfortunately, we all suffer from the disease of dictatorship," opined Ibrahim Al Sayeh in an article in the electronic version of the Egyptian paper Al Dostor.

Tyranny in the Arab world is a disease that infects almost everyone, the writer said. A political party, liberal or leftist, would exclude any member who dares criticise the party's performance or write any thing against the methods of its leadership.

In universities, most professors would reject any disagreement from students, even when it comes to research papers and dissertations. And students who write anything against the state's policies might be expelled.

Members of the same household do not always welcome different opinions, and even a taxi driver might get angry with his passenger if the latter were to blame him for misconduct towards another driver.

Street vendors have bosses who would severely punish them if they disobeyed his orders; the same is true of beggars and shoe shiners if they approach others' territories, the writer said.

As for tyranny in religious groups, it is a major, indispensable component of literature here. A previous head of Al Azhar University hit a journalist with his shoes in his office, and slapped a prayer performer who opposed him, the writer noted.

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk