x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Egypt dominates opinion columns

Despite problems ahead, Morsi's victory is good news, an Arabic-language journalist says. Another warns of tumult to come, while a third notes that Islamists won by cooperating.

Despite some serious challenges ahead, Morsi's victory is a real triumph, worthy of celebration

A divided people, an empty treasury, high unemployment, winning less than a quarter of the vote, and most importantly the West's pronounced animosity: this is the minefield Egypt's president-elect, Mohammed Morsi, must find his way through, wrote Abdel Bari Atwan in the pan-Arab paper Al Quds Al Arabi.

"Bringing together a divided people behind a Brotherhood leader is no easy task," the writer noted. "But it is not mission impossible either if Mr Morsi, and the Muslim Brotherhood, can learn right now from their previous mistakes."

He was referring to their attempt to monopolise the main institutions of the state: parliament, the consultative council, the constitutional committee, and now the presidency.

Many were dressed down by Brotherhood spokesmen for rejecting such a monopoly and warning of its serious ramifications, under the pretext that Turkey's Justice and Development Party had done the same upon securing a resounding victory.

But they missed the point: the Turkish Islamic party won three elections in a row, thanks to its huge economic achievements, and open-mindedness towards those who did not vote for it. And they maintained Ataturk's legacy despite being at odds with it.

Candidate Morsi had promised to offer the premiership and vice presidency to non-Islamists, and to maintain the rights of women's and Coptic minority.

Now his success "greatly depends on his relationship with the ruling military which is currently assuming most of powers - legislative, executive, judicial, and with the media," he said.

There is a danger that the military could embark on provocative actions against the president. For it is not an indication of good will to strip the president of the decision of war and peace, nor to dissolve the Brotherhood-dominated parliament.

The military council should be the real guardian of the revolution and its nascent democracy, and a just referee among all political forces. That would be the greatest service it could give.

Mr Morsi is a clever man. He was a high-ranking high-school student, and was awarded a government scholarship to pursue engineering studies in the US, and earned a doctorate from a prestigious US university. And he is the son of a peasant farmer and, like the bulk of Egyptians, comes from a poor background.

"Mr Morsi's victory is a victory for the entire Arab region," the writer observed. "It is a boost to Arab revolutions for democracy and human rights … therefore, he should be given support from Arab states, the rich in particular, to help Egypt with its economy."

Meanwhile, Israel is "definitely trembling with fear at this triumph, because henceforth they will not find a servile president to lick their boots, yield to their demands and back their wars as before."

Buckle up for the start of a new era for Egypt

"Egypt stands now at a real crossroad that promises numerous domestic and regional repercussions. For the Egyptians, the battle has just begun," wrote Tariq Al Homayed, editor of the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Speculation abounds about the model that will take shape in the future Egypt. Will it be the Turkish model that sees the Brotherhood and the military go head to head, knowing that few similarities exist between the Brotherhood in Turkey and their counterparts in Egypt?

Or will it follow the Iranian model that engulfed all political powers and movements that supported it within Iranian society?

"Some might argue that the military, coupled with a strong judiciary, would be the guarantor in Egypt. True, but let us remember that the Brotherhood rules Egypt today, which entails immense changes on levels of politics, economy, society, religion and the arts," added the writer.

It would be wrong to say that the Brotherhood is immune to criticism. All is fair in politics. History has proven that events in Egypt reverberate through the region. The Nasser era that started in 1952 and brought the military to power took the region through five decades of wars, coups, extremism and much delay.

"This isn't pessimism as much as it is a warning to those who have been long asleep. It is time to watch out and buckle up. The unexpected is now a reality and its repercussions will be huge."

Only Islamists were able to cooperate

Mohammed Morsi's victory was a great success for the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the man is now the president of all Egyptians and he must prove to all his opponents and the Brotherhood's enemies that his first priority is to national consensus, columnist Mohammed Salah wrote in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

"It was remarkable that while the presidential race strengthened the Islamic factions' unity, they entrenched the divisions among civil powers," the writer commented.

As soon as the fierce legislative battles between the Brotherhood and the Salafists ended, both sides turned the page and chose cooperation and coordination.

In the opposing camp, however, the secular and liberal parties and groups started to clash as soon as Mubarak stepped down from power.

The clashes soon escalated and the closer the presidential battle got, the more liberal unity disintegrated, ending up having only marginal influence on the course of the race.

As Egypt gears up for a new era under the well-oiled machine of the Islamists, civil movements find themselves without the capabilities or the expertise needed to compete in the next elections, either.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk