x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Military won't intervene in Egypt's crisis

A prominent visiting editor is told that the army will be nobody's truncheon. Other topics: Human rights and generational conflict.

Despite growing polarisation of Egypt's politics, the army says it has no plans to reclaim power

Two critical current issues, one domestic and one foreign, could decide Egypt's future, wrote Abdel Al Bari Atwan, editor-in chief of the UK-based pan-Arab paper Al Quds Al Arabi.

The first issue is the worsening political polarisation between the government and the opposition - a division especially evident on the part of the opposition, which is determined to topple President Mohammed Morsi's government and have early presidential elections.

The second issue is the direct threat stemming from Ethiopia starting construction of the first phase of the Grand Renaissance Dam and diverting the flow of the Blue Nile, the writer said.

Speaking to most leaders of Egypt's opposition during a recent visit to the country, 18 years after his last visit, the writer came to the conclusion that their coexistence with President Morsi is impossible.

To back their argument, they would list Mr Morsi's failures, explain how bad they have been, and reject the opinion that the man's one year in power is an insufficient period to give a categorical verdict.

The opposition wants a civil state, deeming the Muslim Brotherhood to be a threat to Egypt, fearing Brotherhoodisation of the country and the continuous rule of the Brotherhood for decades to come. Still, it is a divided opposition. The disputes among some of its leaders are greater than those with Mr Morsi.

These days are seeing the peak of the political and media campaign to bring people to the streets against the incumbent government in a bid to topple it on or near June 30, which marks one year of Mr Morsi in power.

The leaders of the opposition know that alone they cannot overthrow the president and force an early vote. And so they wish the army would seize power in a bloodless coup and end the current stalemate.

But "the Egyptian army will be a truncheon in nobody's hand," a senior military official told the columnist during his meeting with members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Council (SCAF). The SCAF said that they would not stage a military coup, that the ballot box is the deciding factor, that only people who - by democratic means - brought Mr Morsi into power can topple him, and only by the same means. The SCAF's leaders also indicated that it sees the political elite, government and opposition alike, as inefficient.

The writer also had a 45-minute meeting with Mr Morsi. The Syrian crisis and the relationship with the neighbours were among the topics. But the Ethiopian dam crisis was the focal point, with Mr Morsi saying he preferred the "soft power" way to handle it.

"Tamarod" rebel movement protests slated for June 30 will put to the test both the opposition's clout and the government's ability to exercise self-restraint, Mr Atwan concluded.

Human rights violated in northern lands, too

More than six decades after adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, those rights are denied in the northern hemisphere are well as in the south, argued Mohamed Kirat in the Doha-based paper Al Sharq.

Human rights, it turns out, could not withstand many daily violations in hot spots worldwide, including those in countries claiming democracy and justice, the writer said.

The US, the UK, France, and other major nations have perpetrated all sorts of appalling atrocities in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in Europe's secret prisons.

In France, for instance, African and Maghribi immigrants have been systematically marginalised and discriminated against. The Paris suburban protests that erupted a few years ago were met with violence and ridicule, with then-president Nicolas Sarkozy calling protesters "scum".

Interestingly, the nations that have talked big and lectured about human rights have also proven to violate the fundamental principles of human rights. Even in news coverage of war, they used media blackouts, manipulation and propaganda. Iraq is a perfect example.

The September 11 attacks and the ensuing "war on terror" was a turning point in respect of human rights. since then even some countries with a good margin of freedom of expression have spied on their citizens and encroached on their privacy.

Generational conflict shapes Egypt's future

The continuing conflict in the Arab Spring nations is mainly the result of a sharp generational conflict, observed Al Sayyid Yasin in the London-based Al Hayat.

It is not exactly right to say that the main conflict raging in the Arab Spring countries is the one between Islamists and secularists, the writer noted.

Generational conflict is the real spur of the continuing dynamics. We are seeing a standoff between a generation of vigorous youth who managed to break away from the fear of tyrannies to spark the revolution, and generations of obsolete dinosaurs whose mindsets fell with the dictatorial regimes.

This generational conflict has been transparent over the past months in Egypt, following the failure of traditional opposition to stand up to the Brotherhood's tyranny.

Old-school figures have tried to withstand the Brotherhood's power grab by forming a "salvation front", but it was not long before they ended up at loggerheads with each other.

Against this backdrop, a creative method was devised by Egypt's revolutionary youth, with Tamarod campaigning across cities and villages to collect millions of signatures on a petition demanding early elections, the writer said.


* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni