x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ennahda leader commits to democracy

The Tunisian leader has asked for cooperation in forging a new democracy in an article for an Arabic-language website. Other topics: the Nobel Peace Prize and what to do with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Arabic news digest

“Over the past two months, our country has been going through a crisis no one can deny or play down, despite our best efforts to ease the way for a successful democratic transition,” wrote Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda party, which has ruled Tunisia as part of a “troika” government since the post-revolution elections. His opinion article was published on Tuesday on aljazeera.net, the online platform of the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera.

This month, under pressure from the street and left-wing parties, Ennahda agreed to dissolve the government, promising to work with all players to form an interim government of technocrats until elections are held, potentially early next year.

“We have often stressed that the sons of Ennahda are not the kind to seek revenge or vengeance or gloating, despite the depth of their wounds,” Mr Ghannouchi wrote. “Tunisia cannot handle any more differences or quarrels or mutual demonisation. And there is no way for a single party to monopolise power, however popular, legitimate and representative it might be.

“Today, we ever so deeply believe in this consensus-based approach, which we hope will soon bring Tunisia a constitution for all Tunisians, a constitution for the sake of which Ennahda has … made great efforts to come to a compromise, making painful concessions to ease its drafting and ensure consensus.”

Deploring the refusal of “a handful” of political factions to sit at the negotiating table with Ennahda, Mr Ghannouchi said: “We are sitting here today at the same table … to resolve our differences through dialogue and compromise, but not without preserving our revolution and the institutions and trajectories it has yielded.”

Mr Ghannouchi was referring to the national dialogue called by civil society organisations to get Tunisia out of a months-long political stalemate.

“We have answered the call with our hands stretched out to all those who are loyal to the revolution. We respect their proposals and are ready to discuss them with an open heart,” he wrote.

“Many wanted to see Tunisia fall prey to chaos and violence, and to see its political elites falling out after standing united against dictatorship … But, praise be to Allah, those who placed their stakes on chaos and on an aborted Tunisian revolution have lost the bet.”

Admitting previous “slip-ups” and “errors of judgement”, the Ennahda leader defended his party’s choice of giving up the leadership of the Tunisian government and embarking on party talks. “I don’t think we are letting our people and constituents down by committing to the principle of compromise to build a democratic system that guarantees security and stability, and that preserves the unity of both state and society,” he wrote.

Dialogue is needed with young Brothers

Since June 3, Egypt’s security services have arrested most of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders, for a variety of reasons. But, Emad Eddine Hussein wrote in the Cairo-based newspaper Al Shorouk, what are they going to do with the rest of the membership?

It does not stand to reason that all anti-government protesters should be detained; and even if the government did that, there would still be some Brotherhood sympathisers at large, the writer suggested.

And while the government and most people believe that the organisation’s ideology is destructive, what would be the solution?

“I don’t think that even the Brotherhood’s archenemies have a magical solution to this problem; otherwise it would have been tried back in 1954,” he added.

The government cannot kill or arrest all members of the Brotherhood. They are, like it or not, part of Egyptian society. So a real solution to this 80-year old problem must be found.

Force and prosecution are important when it comes to outlaws. But for those who believe in certain ideas, the truncheon, however thick, and prison cells, however dark, will not make people change their ideas.

While many in the government now see reconciliation with the Brotherhood’s leadership as a crime, a strategic plan to communicate with the organisation’s ordinary youth is necessary to make them rethink their extreme views.

Nobel Peace Prize was an insult to humanity

Two ridiculous international events regarding the Syrian conflict happened recently, said Lebanese author Samir Atallah in a column in the London-based paper Asharq Al Awsat: The regime accepted a plan to destroy its chemical arsenal, and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a body overseeing destruction of those weapons.

“Two triumphs of humanity and what remains is just trivial details,” the writer said sarcastically. He cited examples of those “details”: millions of Syrians internally displaced; millions missing, needy or jobless; and many thousands killed, injured or kidnapped.

The international community has disregarded more than 100,000 people who have been killed in the conflict by “conventional” weapons – tanks, aircrafts and bombs – to seek heroism over the killing of 1,400 other humans, the writer noted.

Meanwhile, international players have congratulated each other, with the US secretary of state, John Kerry, praising Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, boasting how important his diplomacy has been in eliminating chemical weapons, while Russian-made conventional arms continue to ring cash registers.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae