x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Can El Sisi cure Egypt’s ailments?

The growing support for Gen El Sisi raises many questions that need to be answered (Alaa Aswani writes in Al Masry Al Youm). Other Digest topics: carnage (Al Quds Al Arabi), Syria (Michel Kilo, Asharq El Awsat)

Arabic News Digest

With Egypt’s presidential elections drawing near, a vigorous campaign in favour of Gen Abdul Fattah El Sisi is in full swing. Meanwhile, his political platform and his stance on the old regime remain unknown, remarked the novelist Alaa Aswani in the Cairo-based paper Al Masry Al Youm.

Many Egyptians are calling for Gen El Sisi to run for president without knowing anything about his political and economic orientations, the writer added.

It’s true that the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood earned him popularity among many Egyptians, but does this, along with his military background, guarantee that he will be a successful president? And what is Gen El Sisi’s presidential platform and how will he be able to pull it off if he is president?

What does he think of the January 25 Revolution? Does he see it as a conspiracy, as the remnants of Hosni Mubarak do? Does he approve of the wave of arrests of the revolutionary youth, and the false charges and smear campaigns against them? Is he in favour of trying the corrupt figures from the Mubarak regime? How about the atrocities that were committed under the military council? Does he intend to open an independent inquest even if that leads to the conviction of Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, whom he considers his mentor?

All these questions remain unanswered. With the exception of a fuzzy statement that there will be no return to the past, Gen El Sisi has not revealed his political views. And yet, scores of Egyptians are pushing him to run for president.

Gen El Sisi’s supporters belong to different categories, according to Awasni. First, there are the Mubarak’s remnants who are back with a vengeance. They believe that the general is close to the old regime and once president he will be good to them. The second type of supporters comprise sycophants who toady want any one in power. They believe that they will be rewarded by the dictator they help thrive.

The third type are the Nasserist figures whose love for the former leader Gamal Abdel Nasser went so far that they longed for a repeat by any means. It is this kind of blind dream of a historic leader keen to help the poor, face colonisation and restore national dignity that have led many people to support brutal tyrants such as Qaddafi, Saddam and Al Assad.

And then there are those ordinary people who see Gen El Sisi as their saviour. These people had great expectations after Mr Mubarak was ousted but their situation seemed only to worsen under the military council, and later the Muslim Brotherhood.

Many of Gen El Sisi’s supporters are not seeking a president as public servant, which is what the revolution sought to achieve. Rather they are after a father figure, who knows what is good for the people, better than they do.

Massacres around the world highlight UN’s failure?

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was observed last Monday in memory of millions of mostly Jewish victims of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

In an address commemorating the day, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said the United Nations Organisation was established to make sure such atrocities never happen again. But was the UN able to prevent other holocausts and massacres throughout the world? This question was raised in an editorial on Monday in the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi.

“Of course not; there have been numerous massacres in the world since, albeit without gas chambers,” the paper noted.

“As for Israel, unfortunately, it seems the only lesson they have learnt [from the holocaust] is extreme methods of oppression, incarceration, torture, siege and racial discrimination. Israeli prisons, with their electric barbed wires, iron beds and torture methods in interrogation rooms bring to mind images of Auschwitz concentration camp,” the daily added.

Even after the Oslo Accords were signed, about 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, including children, continue to suffer grave infractions on human rights inside Israeli prisons. Israel is the only state in the world that legitimises torture.

The Jews that came to form the state of Israel are repeating history, the writer noted.

Syria at crossroads as destruction continues

It’s impossible to evaluate the extent of damage caused on Syria’s political, social, economic and cultural fronts, wrote Michel Kilo in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

“Everything must start anew. Syria has to be rebuilt, stone by stone, house by house. Otherwise they will not be able to rise from beneath the rubble. [Bashar] Al Assad turned the army against his own people, tearing down a “nation he had worked hard to build”, Kilo wrote.

This war, brought about by the regime and its fundamentalist variants, has put Syria on contradictory paths. One, where Mr Al Assad’s regime could come out victorious and leave the country bleeding from its wounds. The people would try and resist in what would eventually lead to a repetition of the carnage of Hama in 1982.

Another where Mr Al Assad’s regime could fall. This would lead to the genesis of a new Syria, one built on radically different pillars – a civil society gathering free citizens in peace under independent laws and for the benefit of all, thereby achieving the goals of the revolution: justice, equality and dignity, Kilo wrote.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk