x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Gulf nations face pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood

Arabic language newspapers comment on the need for reforms to counter Muslim Brotherhood influence, the intractable situation in Syria and Egypt's Mubarak loyalists.

Gulf states must cooperate to face down the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan last week made a statement to the effect that Gulf states must cooperate to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from plotting to undermine regional governments.

But does this Emirati wish, asked Kuwaiti writer Shamlan Youssef Al Essa in the UAE-based paper Al Ittihad, stand a chance of coming true? What is the nature of this prospective cooperation? And how can the influence of the Brotherhood be countered?

To be sure, the Muslim Brotherhood was given a push by the Arab Spring uprisings in several countries, notably Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait.

But the question is: what are the hurdles to the call from Sheikh Abdullah?

The security and intelligence cooperation is already on, but the source of the Brotherhood's threat is unknown to the Gulf states, the writer remarked.

This organisation has a long experience in underground political activity that has spanned more than 80 years. Egypt's intelligence, as powerful as it has been, could not prevent their rise to power, and their attempts to extend their reach to other Arab countries.

Gulf sates did not hesitant in backing Bahrain when Manama faced serious challenges from the opposition, but they stepped in because foreign powers, particularly Iran, were involved, according to the writer.

The history of the Gulf and the Brotherhood is a long and thorny one. It was the Gulf states - especially Kuwait and Saudi Arabia - that hosted the Islamist organisation when Egypt's former president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was hunting them down following their 1954 attempt to assassinate him.

The Brotherhood-inspired Islamic Constitutional Movement is currently Kuwait's most powerful party. They have taken over most of the ministries, and have hit out at strong political rivals.

And although the government has entered a battle against the opposition, including the Brotherhood, it is unlikely that the latter will falter. So how could Kuwait help the UAE fight the Brotherhood when it is unable to do so at home? the writer wrote.

Saudi Arabia is overtly antagonistic towards the Brotherhood, and surely will back the UAE should a Brotherhood threat arise.

Bahrain and Oman will stand by the UAE because the Brotherhood in is weak there.

Qatar, which backed the Arab Spring in Libya, Egypt and now in Syria, will remain silent due to its strong ties with the Brotherhood, and the absence of a strong Brotherhood inside Qatar.

"The Brotherhood will surely try to seek power in the Gulf, and therefore, the Gulf States are required to quickly introduce political reforms because the West, mainly the US, wants these states to carry out the necessary reforms to avert any internal turmoil," concluded the writer.

Twenty months on, no end in sight in Syria

There is no shortage of disagreement about the Syrian crisis and ways to deal with it, not only among the ideologically and politically fragmented opposition, but also among regional and international countries that are involved in this issue, opined the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its lead editorial on Monday.

"But the one issue that everyone seems to agree on is that no foreseeable end could be detected on the horizon," said the paper.

The most important development in Syria is two-fold: first, the struggle can no longer be called a revolution as it is progressively turning into an armed confrontation. Second, the flames of the Syrian conflict have indeed spilt into neighbouring countries, especially into Turkey, and are expected to reach Jordan at a later stage.

On the one hand, the Assad regime's decision to wage a long and fierce war against its own people has indeed exhausted its fighting capabilities and weakened its control over large portions of the land. It wouldn't have lasted so long if it weren't for the support of Russia, China and Iran.

On the other hand, the Western camp's confusion and indecision about a clear strategy for dealing with the crisis, mainly when it comes to arming the opposition, has contributed to the Assad regime's resistance. Although some may argue that it also prevented a regional war.

Some still want Egypt to go back in time

Egypt is experiencing yet another substantial political bump due to court sentences in the "Camel Incident" and the president's attempt to lay off the attorney general, a decision he was forced to retract later since it falls outside his jurisdiction.

"But the issue isn't limited to that," said Tariq Al Homayed, the editor of the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat. "The real issue is that there are those who are seeking to take Egypt back to the age of the camel."

This becomes evident when one reviews a recent statement by Yussuf Al Qardawi, the Muslim Brotherhood's highest spiritual reference, who called on pilgrims in Mecca to pray against those he called "the nation's enemies". He also called for the re-prosecution of the officials that were acquitted from responsibility in the camel incident last year.

"The situation is clearly chaotic. This proves a continued desire to dismantle the concept of state, laws and regulations and replace them with 'spiritual' powers that transcend the powers of state and law, especially that Al Qardawi isn't Egypt's mufti."

The writer added: "Talk about state, law and institutions becomes void when these concepts are marginalised and destroyed through political positions shrouded in religious rhetoric."

 

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae