x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

How the Brotherhood lost its cause in Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood's rigidity is what cost it such a high price in Egypt, Al Hayat's editor Abdullah Iskandar says. Other comment topics: Libyan militias and Arafat's murder.

When Mohammed Morsi was deposed in Egypt in a popular counter-revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood he represented thought that their supporters and the democratic West would rush to their rescue, said Abdullah Iskandar, managing editor of the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

Based on this assumption, they expected to see millions of Egyptians rallying to their support, and a global solidarity movement, But that did not happen. With the exception of the US that continues to flounder with a visionless foreign policy, no one in the world called the upheaval in Egypt a military coup against democratic authority, as the Brotherhood called it.

“The Brotherhood group was never a defendable model of democracy. This make it harder for the Egyptian public and for international powers-that-be to believe them,” the writer said.

The organisation is an inflexible hierarchal structure that doesn’t make room for interpretation or any ideas that may contradict those of its supreme leader. It is a closed society that, by its composition, is immune to renovation or self-criticism.

“The Muslim Brotherhood didn’t attract to its cause defenders of democracy, freedom and human rights. During decades of existence, the group rejected all modernisation attempts,” added the writer.

The Brotherhood leadership’s immutable policy of ideological dictatorship came to light with its early experience of public political activity: the election of Mr Morsi as president.

During their short-lived stint in power, the Brotherhood only entrenched their reputation as a vengeful organisation with fascist tendencies.

No sooner had they risen to power than a series of actions aimed to legitimise repression and to subject state institutions to the elected president’s will was set in motion.

But the elected president himself was completely submissive to a non-elected supreme leader.

In a matter of a few months it transpired that their grasp of the reins of power was a real threat to plurality and public liberties in Egypt, and this was sufficient motive for the army to remove Mr Morsi and come up with a roadmap to set matters back on their natural course.

When Egyptian citizens took to the streets to object to the Brotherhood’s policies, the group saw it as a direct defiance of its authority, warranting a violent response that in the end accelerated their loss of power.

Throughout all these momentous events, not one voice was heard from among the Muslim Brotherhood to review and reassess what has happened.

On the contrary, the organisation’s leaders and spokespeople held on to the strategy that led to their political demise. This is how the Muslim Brotherhood lost their cause, the article concluded.

Libya is being rattled by militia power trips

The still-weak Libyan government could not come up with a better response than condemnation last week when violent clashes erupted between domineering armed militias in the capital Tripoli, wrote columnist Meftah Chouaib in yesterday’s edition of the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej. This listless response has become a trait of Libyan authorities since the removal of the authoritarian regime of Col Muammar Qaddafi.

While official reports claim the Libyan government has mobilised many troops in the eastern city of Benghazi to contain similar armed clashes, the capital is still caught up in the throes of militia warfare that shows no signs of abating, the writer said.

“Like several other Libyan cities, Benghazi needs that level of military mobilisation to prevent the militias from committing further crimes, abusing state institutions and violating public property”, he wrote.

“But Tripoli, the political capital and the symbol of national unity, is threatened even more seriously, as the ‘equilibrium of fear’ among the militias that control most of the city’s districts is starting to fall apart.”

Most Libyans want salvation from this stifling situation, as evidenced by repeated calls by community groups for peaceful demonstrations in Tripoli and other cities to demand a life of security “where the strong would no longer trample on the weak”, he wrote.

World must expose Arafat’s assassins

“He didn’t die because of disease, advanced age or natural causes – that is confirmed by the report of the Swiss medical committee that analysed samples from the remains of the martyr president,Yasser Arafat,” wrote Hani Habib, a contributing writer with the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam, yesterday.

The report pointing to the probability of foul play in the death of the Palestinian leader in 2004 reinforces “a growing sense among Palestinians and free men and women around the world that the Palestinian president was killed by someone – someone who has an explicit interest in the elimination of President Arafat, the man who was described by the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon as Israel’s biggest enemy”, the writer said.

Based on this new evidence, the international community now has an obligation to work towards revealing the identity of the perpetrator, he went on.

The Palestinians, he noted, have no doubt that the assassination was orchestrated by Israel.

“Palestinians are no longer interested in how Arafat was killed … because that remains of lesser importance than the core of the case, which is that there is an accused perpetrator, and that this perpetrator must be punished,” the author said.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk