x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

But what if the protesters did topple Morsi?

If Egypt's demonstrators got what they say they want, the situation could well be much worse, an Arabic journalist says Today's other topics: Israel's worries and Syria, and how Morsi compares to Mubarak.

What if the violent protests in Egypt were to topple the president and his government?

The bloody clashes and the sharp divisions witnessed in Egypt in recent days are cause for serious concern. One can't help but fear the worst for this great country, wrote Abdul Bari Atwan, the editor of the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi.

Many of the events perpetuating the turmoil in many parts of Egypt remain unfathomable. In Port Said, clashes between security forces and armed rioters left about 33 people dead over the weekend. The unrest soon spilt into other areas, which prompted President Mohammed Morsi to declare a state of emergency in three major cities on Sunday.

A court ruling that sentenced 21 people to death in the case of the Al Ahly killings last year - where fans of Port Said football club Al Masry attacked visiting supporters from Cairo club Al Ahly and killed more than 70 people - sparked riots that were an incarnation of the tensions and the distrust between the authorities and the opposition.

An inspection of the current Egyptian panorama suggests several possible outcomes to the confusion, said the writer.

It is possible that the continuing protests will lead to the downfall of Mr Morsi and to a deadlock between the authorities and the opposition.

In the absence of a clear vision for a solution, the chaos could spread and escalate into a bloody civil war throughout the country. The schism between the state authorities and a large section of the masses has widened significantly in recent months. The unprecedented sight of outlaws opening fire on security forces this past week stands as a terrifying omen of worse days to come.

Should the unrest continue, the army might be tempted to interfere and stage a military coup to impose martial law and control the situation.

The question to raise in this situation is: what if the confrontation were to go on indefinitely? What if the protests were to topple President Morsi?

"Let's suppose that the opposition manages to defeat the regime. Would it be able to rule unilaterally? Would it be capable of devising a constitution that lays the foundations for a civil state? And what would the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist movements have to say about such a civil state?" asked the writer.

Egypt's Islamists would certainly reject any civil constitution. Even if they were to be removed from authority, they would continue to insist on Sharia law. They would boycott any elections, as they would regard themselves as victims of power theft and this would lead to angry altercations that could turn into a lengthy war, as was the case in Algeria in the recent past.

"Egypt needs humility before anything else on part of the government and the opposition, too. A serious dialogue is a must to find a way out of this impasse," the writer said.

Syrian war is a great concern for Israel

The war in Syria is a cause for concern in Israel, too, wrote Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

For Israel, the fallout of the Syrian war might be as serious as that of the 1973 war, the writer said.

The downfall of the Assad regime could threaten the balance of power that has existed since former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger's disengagement accord between Hafez Al Assad and Israel.

After Egypt, Syria is the second largest country that shares a border with Israel.

Despite the relative calm on the Golan Heights, Syria is the only country that has not signed a peace agreement with Israel, and the only one heavily equipped with weapons of mass destruction, the writer noted.

One year after the revolution, Israel still saw the collapse of the Syrian regime as unlikely. But more recently, Israel has been certain that the downfall of Bashar Al Assad is inevitable.

Israel is fearful of the unknown. It would lose a "well-behaved enemy and a loyal guard", but Israelis' worry about Al Assad's fall is as great as their appetite to influence the final outcome, observed the writer.

It has not made any statements as to its role in Syria, but Israel must be keeping track of the developments in Syria more than any other country, the writer concluded.


Is Morsi's rule worse than that of Mubarak?

The worst thing for Egyptians these days is to find themselves face to face with a bitter question: "Is our hatred for Mubarak less than our hatred for Morsi?" So noted Egyptian movie critic Tarek El Shenawi in the Cairo-based newspaper Al Tahrir.

With all its corruption, was Egypt before the January 25 revolution better than the Egypt stifled by the Muslim Brotherhood?

The Brotherhood is striving to "turn off all the lights of the country" and to alter its features. They will never be able to rid Egypt of its soul, although they may tie it down for a while, the writer said.

Egyptians had tremendous hope for a better tomorrow when President Mohammed Morsi came to power, since the alternative was an undemocratic regime.

Mr Morsi said Egypt was a civil state and many Egyptians believed him. They were over the moon and united the moment Mr Mubarak was ousted.

Then they discovered the great deception: Mr Mubarak's corrupt state became a failed state under Mr Morsi.

True, 30 years is not comparable to six months, yet the Brotherhood has failed every test during that period.

Egypt will not return to the Mubarak era, but neither will it accept Mr Morsi's rule, the writer concluded.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk