x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Brotherhood's deep roots win it votes

Arab newspapers comment say the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Arab elections is not surprising. Other topics include Turkish alliance with Arab states against Syria, GCC's deal on Yemen.

The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Arab elections comes as no surprise. The real surprise would be if the Brotherhood hadn't risen, wrote Tariq Al Homayed, the editor, in the London-based paper Asharq Al Awsat.

Media outlets across the world are expressing surprise and apprehension at the Brotherhood's successive wins, but there's no reason for surprise, he wrote.

"The Brotherhood is a reality, a fact and a force because it works day and night on the ground and not via social networks. They are a force because, unlike the so-called intellectuals, they read history and draw lessons from it."

The problem with other political parties, in Egypt and elsewhere, is that they are a voice uncoupled from a movement on the ground. Most contenders across the Arab World are fragmented and emotional and lack any precise project.

In Egypt for instance, after the dethroning of Hosni Mubarak everyone became preoccupied with the remnants of the regime, the threat of the Saudi-backed Salafis, or the youth's questioning of the military's motives. "It was all of course an infernal plan by the Brotherhood aimed at dispersing the efforts of the youth and other political powers, while they worked diligently to strengthen their ranks on the ground" he added.

Therefore, he concluded, general stupefaction at the rise of the Brotherhood reveals a defect that warrants much debate.

Turkey, Arab states are now partners on Syria

When Ahmed Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, expressed hope that the Syrian crisis would be resolved "in house", he didn't specify which house he meant, columnist Satea Noureddin noted in the Lebanese daily Assafir.

"Surely the minister didn't mean the Arab house that is handling the Syrian crisis and that welcomed him to its latest ministerial meeting in a Cairo hotel as a witness the decision to impose unprecedented Arab economic and political sanctions on Syria, and as a principal partner in their implementation process." Syria's neighbours Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, declined to implement the sanctions, leaving Turkey alone to punish Syria on their land borders, while other countries exact their punishment by air and sea.

Turkey's commitment to sanctions is no surprise, since it had already closed its land border with Syria. But what happened at the Cairo conference showed that Turkey is no longer alone in its approach to the crisis.

Escalation from Ankara has reached the limit; the only step remaining would be military interference. Turkey needed Arab cover to press ahead to bring down President Bashar Al Assad; it didn't want to be seen as a foreign power invading a neighbour.

The Arab-Turkish partnership is now a reality. The new partners will work together to stop the bloodshed in Syria at the earliest and topple its regime at the least possible cost.

Yemen can turn new page after GCC deal

Ten months of youth protests in Yemen are finally starting to pay off, the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej, said in an editorial yesterday.

Now that the country's president of over 30 years, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has signed the peace deal tabled by the Gulf Cooperation Council - ceding power in exchange for immunity from prosecution - Yemen can turn a new page, the newspaper said.

"The people of Yemen have suffered for a long time under a regime that did everything to keep them under its thumb, but they proved to be a model of endurance and were cautious not to be led down the path of violence, which would have served the regime's goal of instigating civil war … to perpetuate its presence."

Now that the opposition chief, Mohammed Salem Basindwah, has been charged to form a national unity government, things will start looking up. "This is a real way out of the Yemeni crisis," the newspaper said.

The GCC initiative may have fallen short of satisfying all the wishes of the young protesters, many of whom died to see change. "But it's still accurate to say that it was the Yemeni people's will that made the regime sign off on change."

At this stage, rising above details and petty squabbles is the way to go.


Egypt deserves praise for first free vote

Millions of Egyptian voters headed to the polls on Monday to elect their first independent parliament in at least 60 years, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, said in an editorial yesterday.

This is Egypt's first step towards building a modern democratic system that can raise it to the ranks of the most influential powers in the region "and probably the world", the newspaper said.

"This huge celebration of democracy in Egypt is the first fruit of the people's revolution … and the impressive turnout [Monday] - with thousands of voters standing in line for hours on end to cast their ballots - just goes to show how thirsty the people of Egypt were for democracy."

Everyone in the region is following this major event, but there are those who want it to succeed and those who don't.

"The Arabs everywhere fall under the first category," the newspaper said. "Because they have faith in Egypt as the driving force that could lead the Arab-Muslim world to safety."

Israel and some western powers, however, fall into the second category. They fear that "after 40 years of cowering and dependency … Egypt will regain its independent decision-making authority and will be able to say a big 'No' to Israel's unbridled actions."

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk