Egypt regains its role in region
Proposal to solve Syrian crisis indicates new Egypt is regaining its leading regional role
It seems that Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi is regaining Egypt's role in the region - inactive for the past 40 years - faster than many have expected, wrote Abdel Bari Atwan in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.
"After he took control of the armed forces and the media, brought down the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and reclaimed the executive and legislative powers, President Morsi has started to act regionally," the writer said.
At the Mecca emergency summit, Mr Morsi presented a new proposal to solve the Syrian crisis and stem the bloodletting. He has suggested the formation of a contact group of four Muslim countries - Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
This move "came to affirm this new Egyptian modus operandi which seeks to revive Egypt's leadership", the writer argued.
Only these four heavyweights, collectively, can settle the Syrian issue after all other plans have failed, he went on.
Except Egypt, all these countries are directly involved in the Syrian crisis either through supplying weapons and funding to the warring parties (Iran and Saudi Arabia) or through logistic and operational support (Turkey).
The fact that Egypt is not involved in the Syrian crisis allows it to be a neutral party accepted by both the regime and the opposition, although the Syrian regime was hasty and undiplomatic in attacking Mr Morsi following his support of the revolution's demands.
"This proposal seems to have much better chances of success because it admits the facts on the ground and the regional players, and it does not incorporate the foreign parties behind these [regional players]," the writer noted.
The Egyptian initiative is workable because the solution to the crisis must be regional, and any role of the UN or even the Arab League should be just "auxiliary and from a distance".
Although some Arab and western states have imposed a "veto" on any Iranian participation in efforts to find a way out of the Syrian conflict, the warm embrace that Iran's President Ahmadinejad received from King Abdullah in Mecca is supposed to have abolished this veto.
It is in the interests of the neighbouring countries to find a political settlement to the Syrian issue accepted by all parties. This solution should bring the bloodshed to an end, restore the legitimate rights of the Syrian people, and prevent Syria from becoming a chaos-ridden failed state, the writer added. And the "Egyptian proposal could be a lifeline for Syria against ethnic and sectarian divisions".
The strategic deficiency which has frozen the region for 40 years due to the absence of Egypt is clearly on the wane, he said.
Egypt is confidently regaining its leadership position and building a new Arab project able to fill the void, the writer concluded.
An all-powerful Morsi may be a good thing
Many sceptics approach the recent decisions by Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi from the perspective of "too good to be true", while others criticise the absolute powers he has regained following the nullification of the constitutional declaration, wrote columnist and human rights activist Nawara Negm in the Cairo-based Al Tahir.
Mr Morsi controlling all powers is much less worse than the "youth-killers" doing so, she said.
There is a significant difference between Mr Morsi and the junta. The former is democratically elected while the latter "had imposed itself on us".
True, there is a risk in Mr Morsi holding all these powers, but there is also an asset. Now that the "deep state" is abolished, the president alone can be held accountable.
Today, Mr Morsi cannot find excuses for failing to release all political prisoners. Egyptians can also stake their claim to social justice, and hold the president liable for disruptions to power and water supplies without members of the Muslim Brotherhood using the pretext of the "deep state".
"Now, we can ask the president, 'Please silence the Brotherhood'," she said.
The real danger in the president having all powers exists only if Egyptians fail to stay on guard.
Now that there are no barriers between the people and the president, they must watch him, hold him responsible and never make him a "new pharaoh".
Sitting under the tree of memories for Eid
Digging through old pictures can sometimes indicate a nostalgia disorder. But escaping the fast pace of modern life, now and then, and sitting peacefully in the shade of the memory tree, is paramount to keeping psychological balance, wrote Saleh Bin Sabaan in the Saudi paper Okaz.
"After I had finished receiving well-wishing relatives and friends on the morning of Eid, I suddenly found myself under that tree," he said.
"I remembered how all the doors were merrily open to host well- wishers, with real and hearty laughs and smiles."
The children to whom all doors and arms were festively open filled the streets, and it was they who would give presents to the adults by spreading joy and "beautiful noise" in homes and streets.
Back then, people celebrated people more than new clothing. The financial assets were more or less similar, and all holiday attire looked beautiful irrespective of the cost. Adults had ethics. The wealthy would stand in awe before their elders, even the poorest of them.
The Eid prayers removed the distance between the old and young, the educated and the illiterate, the poor and the rich. They welded everyone together to make the neighbourhood like one festive tent, the writer said.
* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni
Updated: August 20, 2012 04:00 AM