x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Crisis over parliament could cause chaos

The stand-off between the military and the new president might plunge Egypt into paralysis, a columnist notes. Other topics from Arabic commentators: Syria and the Libyan elections.


After things went well with Egypt's run-off presidential election, without the feared clash between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, Egypt is in a new crisis over the constitution that might plunge the country into paralysis, commented Abdel Bari Atwan in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

Last Sunday, Mohammed Morsi ordered the Islamist-dominated parliament to reconvene, in a bid to strip the military council of legislative powers.

"This move came as a big shock to the junta and all political forces, except the Brotherhood's Shoura Council that had convened to back the legitimacy of the parliamentary elections and ordered the cabinet [closed by the military last month] to be reopened."

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) held an urgent meeting on Sunday, but did not take any measure in response to this challenge, leaving it to the Supreme Constitutional Court to decide. The latter approved the dissolution of the parliament and illegitimacy of the parliamentary elections.

The Constitutional Court said its rulings are binding to all authorities and cannot be appealed, a clear message that its ruling, that the parliamentary elections law was unconstitutional, is binding to the president just as it is to Scaf.

"This means that the cabinet's reopening on Tuesday is unconstitutional, and any ensuing decisions will be non-binding," the writer said.

"This creates a big dilemma: a two-headed state. On the one hand, the elected president of the republic who seeks to restore all of his powers … and on the other hand the military which deems itself duty-bound to protect the country and implement the rulings of the constitutional court."

The writer deduced that the showdown is inevitable. It will start as a legal and constitutional debate, and might well turn into a standoff between Islamists and secularists.

The irony, he added, is that the old regime remnants who suffered a rout at the presidential election when their candidate Ahmed Shafiq was defeated, must be on cloud nine now finding on their side many political leaders, including Hamdeen Sabahi and Mohamed El Baradei.

"I do not know whether the Brotherhood has studied this gambit and its ensuing scenarios very carefully … but I believe their move … is premature."

The mistakes of the Islamist trend gives opponents the opportunity to spread scaremongering among the people as to the Islamists' intentions.

Scaf is supposed to have handed over power to the new president, and returned to barracks. But it seems it is still assuming the same role as when it called on Mr Mubarak to step down.

Libya's surprising election augurs well

If the preliminary results indicating that Mahmoud Jibril's secular bloc has won over the Brotherhood-backed bloc in the Libyan elections earlier this week turn out to be correct, Libya would have defied all expectations that it would be another piece of an Islamic belt from Egypt through Libya and to Tunisia, said Ali Ibrahim, a columnist with the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Evidence so far proves that Libya has successfully completed its first elections round since Al Sanussi's era four decades ago.

"The high turnout that reached 60% of registered voters reveals that the Libyans have resolved to partake in forging their future," said the wrier.

During his press conference on Monday, Mr Jibril declared it a victory for the whole of Libya. His call to form a grand coalition government is a message of reassurance to all political players in the country that the future would be built on the basis of partnership.

Libyans had the chance to observe the experiences of their neighbours in Tunisia and Egypt. They had ample time to decide that they wanted a different path. Added to that, the electoral and political processes in the country are still young; no one party or political bloc was more rooted than others in Libyan soil.

A promising future awaits Libya especially that recent economic indices give the impression that any upcoming government would be capable of social and economic development.

Annan mission helps Russia and Iran

It has been three months since Kofi Annan started his doomed mission in Syria, said the columnist Rajeh Al Khouri in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

"As he arrived in Damascus for the third time last Sunday, the number of casualties had reached 3,000 - that it 1,000 casualties per visit," he said. "Mr Annan began his disastrous mission as the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, but his masks are falling off now."

In his statements in Damascus, the special envoy clearly defended Russia and China, and attempted to impose Iran as a regional player at the expense of the Syrian bloodbath. He seemed to hold the Gulf States responsible for his own failure.

"In the end, it is safe to say that [Mr Annan] is nothing but a Russian-Iranian envoy who has been, from the start, working to allow the regime to resolve the crisis militarily, as impossible as that is," the writer opined.

Although the regime in Syria didn't abide by any of the provisions of Mr Annan's six-point plan, the envoy still insists that there are no alternative solutions at the moment.

"This indicates that he wishes to continue to provide cover for the military solution that failed and continues to fail 16 months into the crisis," he said.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk