x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Cleaning up the Brothers' mess

The Muslim Brotherhood is pushing Egypt to becoming a failed state, an Arabic language columnist writes in today's opinion roundup. Other topics: Syria and Egypt.

Will Egypt become a failed state? If the Muslim Brothers keep ruling it as they do now, it might

The crisis of leadership and management in Egypt just keeps getting worse, with no serious plan on the table to bring back the lost hope of a resolution, wrote Waheed Abdul Majeed, head of Cairo's Al Ahram Centre for Translation and Publishing, in the opinion pages of the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper Al Ittihad.

The continuous deterioration in political practice and the repercussions of that on the social, economic and security situation in the country have made this question plausible: can Egypt turn into a failed state, as defined by international standards?

"The question about Egypt's chances of averting a failed-state scenario is being asked vigorously in local and international forums," the author said.

Of course, a country with the history and the regional weight of Egypt still has "no few chances" to prevent its own failure, the writer suggested. Paradoxically, though, Cairo's rulers - essentially, the Muslim Brotherhood - are not doing much to favour those chances, even if they stand to benefit the most from the country's return to stability.

"[The Brotherhood], despite their shrinking popularity and dwindling street credibility, are throwing away those chances for a rescue by their sheer underestimation of the scope and gravity of the crisis," the writer noted.

The Brotherhood's poor assessment of the potential repercussions of the turmoil that has gripped the country for months on end is further compounded by their resolve to consolidate their hegemony over key institutions.

Undeterred by protests from large political and social factions, the Brotherhood want to rule alone, even if their leadership has not proven salutary for the brittle financial, industrial, property and tourism sectors, which are all hanging by a thread, the author argued.

"The deficit in the general budget is degenerating; inflation rates are going through the roof despite the reigning stagnation - which is known as 'stagflation' - not to mention the local currency's depreciation," he wrote.

While unemployment figures are hitting record highs and the security situation is worrying, basic commodities, like diesel, are becoming scarce.

"The shortage in some commodities is turning people's lives into hell," the writer said. "A queue of vehicles stretching for one kilometre or more waiting to refuel has become all but a customary sight."

Aren't these the symptoms of a failed state? Sure, but failure is still preventable if the Brotherhood come to their senses and realise that without power sharing, Egypt will not be able to squeeze out of this bottleneck.

"There is no saving Egypt from becoming a failed state without a consensus government, made up of competent experts who can turn around the ailing economy, soothe the most pressing social woes and clear part of this stifling political atmosphere."

How Syrian writers dealt with revolution

When the Arab uprisings started, the anti-Syrian-regime writers at home attempted to send a few messages to the regime, namely the inevitability of the spring reaching Syria and the necessity for radical change. But the regime, as expected, turned a blind eye, wrote Sami Hasan in an article carried by the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

Aware of the cruel legacy of the regime in dealing with opponents, Syrian writers knew full well that writing about Arab revolutions was one thing but writing about a possible Syrian revolution was another.

Thus Syrian writers fell under three categories. One clearly supported the revolution, taking an unswerving stand against the regime, which forced them to lie low; the second group elected to side with the revolution but by approaching the red lines implicitly so that they did not have to go into hiding; and the third category just watched the developments and kept quiet.

As the regime stepped up its brutal crackdown, many writers fled Syria, seeking freedom to write fearlessly.

This categorisation applies not only to writers in newspapers, but also to social media writers. The uprising stimulated Syrian youth. It also led to the birth of a number of newspapers where young people could voice their views. And as the revolution gained momentum, the regime became unable to monitor the increasing number of outspoken writers.

Egypt is stronger than the Muslim Brothers

If Egypt were a tribal country, Hosni Mubarak would have done what Muammar Qaddafi did in Libya; and if Egypt were a sectarian country, Mubarak would have done what Bashar Al Assad has done in Syria, Egyptian poet Abdul Rahman Yusuf noted in the Cairo-based paper Al Shorouk.

"So, don't believe his illusory heroics. Mubarak stepped down only because Egypt after 30 years under his dark rule remained stronger than him," the writer said.

In theory, Mubarak could order an air strike on Tahrir Square. But where is the Egyptian pilot who would execute such an order?

Similarly, if the Muslim Brotherhood were able to carry out a conspiracy to bring down the state as portrayed by the media, they would have pulled it off years ago; if they had had the capacity to open prisons, they would have opened them when leading Brotherhood figures were behind bars, the poet wrote.

If the Brotherhood had had the courage to stage a single demonstration beyond the red lines set by the state security services, they would not have waited for 30 years of Mubarak's rule; they would have taken to the streets on January 25, and would not have waited until the "Friday of Wrath" protests after they became sure millions of Egyptians would gather in public squares.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk