x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Egypt's Brotherhood should reveal its plans

Governing is different from being in opposition; Egyptians understand that but want to know what's being planned, an Arabic writer says. Other topics: a cultural fall and a Western Spring.

Now that it is in power, the Muslim Brotherhood must speak openly about its strategy for Egypt

"You can't eat half the loaf and still have it all" is an old Arab adage that sums up the reality of the situation of President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the region, columnist Areeb Al Rantawi wrote in the Jordanian daily Addustour.

"This party's presence in power has compelled it to relinquish half of the programmes, slogans and positions that it brandished when it was entrenched in opposition," the writer said. "This is normal and [the Brotherhood] should approach it with a great deal of realism, explanation and analysis rather than pretend to be holding on to old stances."

For more than three decades, the Brotherhood almost constructed a fourth great pyramid with all its Anti-Camp David slogans.

However, the narrative changed once the Brotherhood realised that it was on its way to power and had to show "adherence to signed treaties and respect for Egypt's international commitments", the writer added.

This has become the chorus with which the Brotherhood responds to any questions regarding the Camp David Accords.

"The Brotherhood's critics, such as myself, weren't expecting that once he became president, Mr Morsi would wage a new war against Israel. Similarly, we didn't expect that his Brothers would turn their backs on all the rules and determinants of Egyptian foreign policy all at once, " the writer went on to say.

"All we wanted was for any of them to step forward and explain to us in a direct and clear language what happened, what are the Brotherhood's reflections today, and what is its strategy for the future."

Egypt and the world are anxious to get an idea about the Muslim Brotherhood's priorities and about how it will deal with Hosni Mubarak's burdensome legacy in foreign affairs, namely the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But what happened in fact is that the Egyptian president appointed an ambassador to Tel Aviv, as per the accords' terms.

Not only that, but the Egyptian ambassador delivered quite a warm protocol letter from his president to the Israeli president. "That is nothing short of a scandal," opined Al Rantawi. "Then they tried to cover it up."

Since his election, President Morsi hasn't once referred to Israel in any of his speeches and statements. The Brotherhood prefers to persevere in its denial strategy.

"We are aware of Egypt's circumstances. We don't want it to dive into untimely adventures and confrontations, but we reserve our right to be informed about the Brotherhood's vision. We want them to tell us what their plan B entails, now that plan A has turned out to be nothing more than a mobilisation tool," the writer concluded.

Political spring comes with a 'cultural fall'

Politics is not the sole cause of the mess plaguing the Arab Spring countries; culture has a great, if not greater, responsibility in it, wrote Ibrahim Arafat in an opinion article in the Doha-based paper Al Watan.

"The Arab uprisings sparked the spring of politics, but have left culture unchanged and governed by the same old bad values," he wrote.

Politically speaking, constitutions are being drafted, parties and civil society organisations can now be freely formed, and new, freer media outlets have been launched.

But when it comes to culture, distrust, accusations of collaboration, hatred, conspiracy thinking and egocentric tendencies linger among politicians, he wrote.

The atmosphere of a "political spring" with the values of a "cultural fall" is both paradoxical and perilous. This paradox is a time bomb, as peoples can toil politically for the sake of freedom and democracy, but then end up recreating dictatorships for not having changed their culture.

"Political forces that seek democracy are acting towards each other in an undemocratic fashion … because of the [existing] culture and way of thinking."

The Salafists have come to light in Tunisia and Egypt, but they still cannot grasp that all politics, unlike religion, is relative. Liberals are no better. Most of them call for democracy from their ivory towers with no direct contact with the masses, he concluded.

The time is right for changes in the West

The West led the way in entrenching the values of human rights, justice and liberty long before the Arab Spring. But these values were incomplete and the time is ripe for a Western Spring, wrote Algerian journalist Abdelkarim Reda ben Yakhlaf in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

"We thought that whose who felt for the Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust would feel for the killing of Palestinians in the Israeli Holocaust; we thought that human life is more precious than oil; that the divine being and the Prophet Mohammed would be treated, at least, with the same respect accorded to the memory of the Holocaust victims," the writer noted.

"We thought that humans are humans, no matter what their religion, colour, language or gender."

The Arab Spring will taste bitter unless a Western Spring takes place to establish thorough justice and liberty.

"Our rulers, former and current, would not stay in power without the West's consent," he noted. "The West knew well what was happening in the Arab world but kept silent."

Anti-capitalist movements, the global economic crisis and the widening rift between classes in Western countries could cause regimes to fall, leading to an awakening of scruples, he said.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae