x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Full disclosure of Egypt revolution needed

Arabic editorials also discuss the suspension of Syria's membership in the Arab League.

Egyptians need to know just what happened on the last day of Hosni Mubarak's time in office

For the Egyptian revolution to be complete, Egyptians must know what happened exactly on Hosni Mubarak's last day in power, wrote Maamoun Fandi, a columnist with the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, in a two-part article.

"What happened between Mubarak and the Field Marshal [Hussein Tantawi] in the last few days of the revolution must be disclosed with the utmost transparency. It is a necessity for legitimacy to be instilled in Egypt."

Many Egyptians still view the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), the ruling authority in Egypt ever since street protests unseated President Mubarak last February, as a remnant of the fallen regime. Field Marshal Tantawi is the chief of Scaf, making him the de facto head of the Egyptian state.

"So for the revolution to really be called a success, the remnants of the old regime must be removed," the writer added.

Other Egyptians, conversely, maintain that the army "protected" the revolution from the "bloodbath" that Mr Mubarak was going to unleash.

In other words, the Scaf stands with one foot in the legacy of the old regime, and the other in the Egyptian revolution, the writer observed.

Until the day Field Marshal Tantawi decides to speak out on everything that happened in the early days of February leading up to Mr Mubarak's stepping down on February 11, the Egyptian people will remain suspicious about how their country's affairs are run, he noted.

"All we've been hearing so far is a bunch of conflicting anecdotes and leaks, and the resulting uncertainty causes the current regime's legitimacy to fray - and with it the legitimacy of the cabinet, the forthcoming elections and the country's constitution."

One such anecdote says that Omar Suleiman, Mr Mubarak's top aide and intelligence chief, informed President Mubarak on February 4 that a large crowd of protesters was headed from Tahrir Square to the presidential palace, and advised him that standing down would spare Egypt "a disaster scenario", the writer reported.

In this version of events, Mr Mubarak purportedly agreed to resign and said he needed to coordinate everything with "Hussein" (Field Marshal Tantawi) to make sure chaos did not ensue.

Another version, from a "very close source", says that Field Marshal Tantawi was the one who got in touch with Mr Suleiman: "Hey Omar," he ostensibly said, "the people will be moving in on the palace and you ought to tell the man that it's over and that he must give up power."

In the disparity between these two stories, and many others versions thereof, the Egyptian people are left to doubt what the actual position of the army was on that February 11 when Mr Mubarak relinquished his 30-year-grip on the presidency.

Bullying is natural in totalitarian regimes

Youssef Al Ahmed, Syria's ambassador to the Arab League, appeared frantic during the press conference he held on Saturday in the wake of the League's decision to suspend his country's membership, Abdulrahman Al Rashid commented in the London-based daily Al Sharq Al Awsat.

He showered the League and those who voted against Syria with offensive language and accusations in a tirade delivered shortly after he spat at the Arab ministers at the end of the ministerial meeting and called them "traitors".

"This sums up the behaviour of the Syrian regime that doesn't stop at murdering children. It adopts a policy of defamatory statements and terrorisation media against officials and Arab governments, just as the Qaddafi regime did before it."

"We realise that the Syrian ambassador and all other Syrian government officials feel that they are sinking ever deeper and the only response they know is to intimidate their opponents, a method that may have worked in the past but not anymore."

Representatives of oppressive, totalitarian regimes often resort to derogatory speech because this is exactly how they operate internally. These are regimes that recruit people whose main skill is bullying. It is for this reason that the representatives of these authorities exaggerate in defending them and criticise others, lest they be accused of negligence.

Syrian crisis remains in Arab boundaries

The West will not consider the Arab League's decision to suspend Syria's membership as an invitation to prepare for interference to resolve the stubborn crisis, columnist Satea Noureddin suggested in the Lebanese daily Assafir.

It will however seize the opportunity to exercise maximum pressure on Damascus, which could embarrass Moscow and Beijing and lead to an extraordinary international consensus that the Arabs could use to get to their objective of ending the bloodshed.

"The crisis is still within Arab boundaries and it can still be resolved among Arabs, although time is running short and the possibility of civil war is getting ever bigger.

"As for the threat that the crisis poses to stability in the region, it is still virtual, limited and doesn't call for tensions or foreign mobilisation, contrary to what the Syrian regime and its allies would have us believe."

The hours leading to the Arab ministerial meeting in Rabat today will gauge the Arabs' readiness to press ahead with isolating and de-legitimising the Syrian authority as well as Syria's preparedness to accept its ousting from the pan-Arab body.

"There are many alternatives to military interference that can be more potent than any no-fly zone or raids on military positions."

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk