x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Don't exclude Egypt's Islamists

Editorials and columns in Arabic-language newspapers comment on topics including the liberal prediliction to "protect voters" from Islamists. Also covered in today's excerpts: the new government in Lebanon, the new constitution for Morocco, and Israel's resistance to the peace process.

Excluding Islamists from Egyptian politics

For weeks now, we have witnessed a campaign by liberal, leftist politicians and remnants of the former regime in Egypt against Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, observed Yaser al Zaatra in opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor.

Islamists are described as a threat to democracy, But the true risk lies in the attitude which aims to exclude this political force. This was shown when opponents of Islamic forces vehemently opposed the results of the last referendum on constitutional amendments.

Even though they know that the referendum was the most credible and transparent one in the history of Egypt, the opposition to Islamic political forces sought to annul it through demonstrations in the streets and the media. Mostly, they expressed their opinion in a threatening tone.

Now they warn that Islamists could win the upcoming elections, and draw up negative scenarios. This is an attitude that is reminiscent of the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak, who used to tell the West that the only alternative to him would be the Islamists.

Liberal politicians tend to behave as the people's custodian, preventing them from choosing freely who should represent them. It is true that no one is perfect, but democratic practices dictate giving equal chance to all actors, without discrimination.


Lebanon requires a comprehensive policy

After the difficult birth of the new Lebanese government, followed by security incidents in Bab Al Tabana and Jabal Mohsen during the popular movement in Syria, Lebanon may face an unhealthy political battle between the government and the emerging opposition, argued Khaled Saghiya in a leader article in the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar.

Any confrontation between the two may deepen the existing civil divide. The new opposition forces fear losing political power and influence if senior public employees allied to them are fired from their posts. They also fear being further weakened if the government resorts to security solutions.

If any more deadly incidents occur, sectarian tension may increase, affecting the shaky stability of Lebanon.

The government should focus, therefore, on political matters, mainly security, as one of its priorities beside economic and social reforms.

Although such reforms are important and necessary, they should not override the political role of the government in a society like Lebanon's, which is still divided. It should not be elective in its approach to governance. Rather it needs to adopt a comprehensive policy, one that treats the country's issues with equal attention, even if they are of a political nature.


Morocco has made bold steps forward

"The draft constitution announced by King VI of Morocco, which will be a subject of national referendum on July 1, came as a quick response to the demands of large segments of the Moroccan public", noted the Qatari newspaper Al Raya.

"This is a good step for Morocco in consolidating democracy, respect for human rights and public freedoms."

The strong support the move has received from many political parties confirms that Morocco is moving fast towards the establishment of a strong rule of law. The new amendments will confirm the capacities of the prime minister and stress strict separation of powers, allowing for a new constitutional balance in favour of elected institutions.

The new proposed amendments still maintain the functions of the king as the head of state and commander of the faithful. They also stipulate his powers to command the army, form foreign policy and appoint judges.

Under the new constitution, the prime minister will have the power to dissolve the parliament.

Despite the reservations expressed by some political forces, such as the youth movement of February 20 and a banned Salafi group, the draft constitution, pending approval by the public, is likely to take Morocco to a new constitutional phase that will boost democracy.


Israel still manipulates the peace process

Israel has never ceased from twisting the Palestinian Authority's arm, each time on new grounds, noted the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial.

At the same time, the Israelis give no chance or glimmer of hope for any future negotiations.

At times they have demanded that the Palestinians accept settlements as a fait accompli, and sometimes they have threatened to cancel the Oslo Accords.

Moreover, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is touring Europe to mobilise European opinion against the right of the Palestinians to establish their independent state.

His government strives also to further weaken the Palestinian Authority by blocking money and tax transfers to the West Bank, not to mention denying other basic rights, such as the return of refugees and assuring the borders of the state.

To reverse all this, both the US, given its role as the sponsor of the peace for the last two decades, and the Quartet committee in charge of specifying the requirement of this process should take a firm stance towards Israel.

The lack of opposition to its extreme policies, internally and externally, has encouraged Israel to put obstacles in the way of achieving true peace.


* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi