x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Eid truce would have helped everyone but Assad

Anything that slows down the killing until after Americans elect a president would help, an editorialist says. Other topics today: a risk for Ennadha in Tunisia, and a test for the Brotherhood in Egypt.

A truce for Eid would have helped Syria's rebels as they wait for the US elections to be settled

As anticipated, the four-day Eid truce proposed by Lakhdar Brahimi, the Arab League and United Nations special envoy to Syria, was short-lived.

The Assad regime was the first to break it when it opened fire on protesters during the weekend, said Tariq Al Homayed, the editor of the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

"The regime's breach of the truce comes as no surprise. It was just as expected as the excuses and justifications that accompanied it," he said.

In fact, it is the international community and the Syrian rebels rather than President Bashar Al Assad who need a ceasefire, the writer noted.

At this point in the Syrian crisis, all parties concerned, Arab and western, are aware that no practical measures concerning Syria can be carried out before the US presidential elections on November 6.

As the world saw in the electoral debates of the past few weeks, neither President Barack Obama nor presidential challenger Mitt Romney is disclosing the whole truth about his positions when it comes to Syria.

The truth is that whichever of them wins four years in the White House will not remain neutral to Syria's plight.

In fact, the pressing question in the US today is: what can be done to stop Mr Al Assad from killing his own people?

"It is an explicit question that can be heard on most US political broadcast programmes. This indicates that the general public opinion, at least at the level of the elite, is leaning towards the necessity to act in Syria."

"This is beginning to take shape, to be put into action following the election," the writer went on to suggest.

The international community is well aware of this fact, and this is exactly why a truce would be advantageous as the world awaits the outcome of the US election.

Russia, too, wouldn't object to a suspension of the hostilities in Syria. Moscow isn't about to sacrifice its interests to save the Assad regime. On the contrary, it would probably be willing to use his head as a bargaining tool with the next US president.

"Hence, the Syrian president realises that the Eid Al Adha truce carries no weight outside the framework of public relations within his own sect and the close circle around him," Al Homayed wrote.

"The only reason he agreed to it in the first place was to imply that he is flexible and doing what he can to offer non-aggressive solutions."

But Mr Al Assad couldn't possibly engage in a truce or in any form of political solution, because that would mean the end of his moribund regime.

A truce would allow for anti-regime protests and that is unimaginable for him, the writer noted.

That is why he had to breach it and go on killing his people.

Potential legal blow to the Ennahda Party

In Tunisia, confrontations are on the rise on several fronts - political, media, judicial and constitutional - demonstrating the vitality of the nation's democratic experience, editorialised the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

On the political front, the argument is heating up between the Islamist Ennahda Party, led by Rachid Al Ghannouchi, and the Nida Touns (Call of Tunisia) secular coalition.

The legal battle involves Tunisia's extradition to Tripoli of former Libyan prime minister Al Baghdadi Ali Al Mahmoudi. This standoff has grabbed the attention of Tunisians for its political and human dimensions.

The issue began when Mr Al Baghdadi sought asylum in Tunisia shortly before the fall of the Qaddafi regime. The Tunisian government led by the Ennahda Party secretary general, Hamadi Jebali, decided to hand him over to Libya without consulting with Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, who dismissed the extradition as a violation of the president's prerogatives.

Human right organisations and lawyers said the move was illegal and there was no independent legal institution in Libya to guarantee a fair trial.

There are reports that the court is going to judge the extradition to be unlawful within a few days. This would deal a hard blow to the government and be a boost to the president and to human right organisations, the paper said.

Brotherhood must put its words into action

The Muslim Brotherhood leaders talk big about democracy. But now they should translate such talk to the real world, columnist Emad Eddine Hussein wrote in the Cairo-based Al Shorouk.

"A few days ago, Dr Saad Al Katatni was democratically elected as leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party," the writer noted.

Before the Brotherhood took office, its opponents were concerned that the party's ride on the "the train of democracy could be one way", and it could seize power forever.

The Brotherhood won parliamentary elections in a democratic fashion. Everybody should respect the people's choice. But the Brotherhood has to demonstrate that it allows freedom of expression and peaceful protests, the writer noted.

The October 12 attack on anti-Brotherhood protesters in Tahrir Square "obliges us to keep the Brotherhood under close scrutiny, because apparently the hybrid genes of democracy have not settled yet inside their bodies".

Muslim Brotherhood members can suppress any anti-Brotherhood demonstration, they can muzzle the media, but they run the risk of waking up to a fate similar to that of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak, warned the writer.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk