x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

From Saddam to Morsi, pointless defiance

Defiance instead of co-operation is the wrong approach for Mohammed Morsi. Other views: journalists' deaths in Mali show victory claim was premature and Syria could become Afghanistan on the Mediterranean

In 1911, in a discussion over the efficiency of the press, Arthur Brisbane, one of the best-known American newspaper editors of the 20th century, famously said, “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words”.

The adage is true and it has withheld the test of time up until images of the trial of the deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi splashed across TV screens and newspapers this Monday, noted Tariq Al Homayed, a contributing columnist with the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Egypt’s ousted Islamist president went on trial in Cairo on Monday on charges of inciting the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in 2012.

On the first day of his trial, Morsi rejected the court’s legitimacy and demanded that those who removed him from office be prosecuted.

He further insisted that he is the legitimate president of the republic.

The trial was adjourned until January 8.

“The proceedings of the first trial session aren’t as significant as the pictures that show that nothing has changed in Arab politics, especially among those who claim to struggle in many Arab republics,” the writer said.

Since the fall and subsequent trial of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and up until the appearance of Morsi before the judge on Monday, the scene hasn’t changed.

Morsi’s expressions brought to mind images of a defiant Saddam at his trial.

“Morsi’s photo as he stood before the judge is provocative to Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents alike,” he added.

“It is a confirmation of the need to unite around the Egyptian military institution now.”

Morsi’s false show of power at the trial in his first public appearance since his removal from power in July is one of the many dreadful mistakes he and the Brotherhood have made since they acceded to power.

It is yet more proof that no one has really learned anything since the fall of Saddam, through the Arab Spring and right up until present day.

Morsi’s “stage act” at the trial brings nothing new to the political scene. It only serves to increase television viewing ratings and confirm once again that such groups and such leaders are hopeless cases.

“Politics is the art of the possible,” Al Homayed observed.

“It is in no way a suicidal endeavour as Saddam and Qaddafi understood it before their demise, or as the Brotherhood and Morsi dealt with it before their ouster, or as Al Assad is handling it at present.”

A skilful politician is someone who can reach a compromise and save what can be saved rather than destroying the temple with everyone in it.

Otherwise, what difference is there between a suicide bomber and a reckless leader?

Murder of journalists shows Mali is volatile

The killing of two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, in northern Mali on Saturday has shed a dismal light on what Paris once described as its victory against terrorism in the unstable African country, Meftah Chouaib said in the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

Several months after the French military operation in northern Mali, it is becoming clearer that claim of success was an overstatement, he wrote yesterday.

“The French attack was more like a temporary surgical operation that did not quite manage to eradicate the disease.”

The murder of the journalists was meant to send “an urgent message to Paris, to the effect that armed groups can still tyrannise and hurt”.

Indeed, the situation across the North African region, including in the Maghreb countries, is boding ill for stability, he suggested.

“While the Algerian army is intensifying its campaigns in the desert areas near the border with Mali, Niger and Libya, Tunisia’s interim president, Moncef Marzouki, has announced an eight-month extension of the state of emergency in his country,” he wrote.

“As for Libya, no happy tidings are coming from there either. In fact, some Libyan regions have become central bases for hardline groups, where they recruit and train fighters and supervise their relocation to neighbouring countries.”

Turkey: Syria could be the next Afghanistan

The Syrian crisis has simply become a matter “to scream about in a deep valley of international neglect”, lamented Mazen Hammad in yesterday’s edition of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

With Syria’s civil war now in its 32nd month, homes and infrastructure have been destroyed across the country. But, as Turkish president Abdullah Gul has said a statement to The Guardian newspaper in Britain, there is still no glimpse of hope that the crisis might soon be resolved.

The columnist said Mr Gul’s observation, coming from the vantage point of a state leader, confirms a view that is already well known to some observers: that Syria could turn into a new Afghanistan, albeit one overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Expressing his disappointment at the inaction of the Americans and the British on the security, humanitarian and moral challenges engendered by the Syrian crisis, Mr Gul stressed the point that action could still be taken today that would prevent Syria from turning into a failed state on the shores of Europe.

The writer said the sad reality is that the entire Syrian civil war could have been averted, the Turkish president rightly pointed out, had the Syrian regime responded positively to peaceful demands for reform.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk