x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Morsi deserves beneift of the doubt

The Egyptian president had no option but to give himself more power to fight the re-emergence of the old regime, a columnist says. Another commentator disagrees, while a third discusses the outcome of the attacks on Gaza.

It is true that President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt has entitled himself last week to sweeping new powers, making his decisions immune to any form of oversight. But the context of a frail post-revolution Egypt justifies his manoeuvre, wrote columnist Mazen Hammad in Saturday's edition of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

"What is he supposed to do when he sees Egypt slipping away from the [ideals of the] revolution and back into the lap of the old regime?" the writer asked. "What is he supposed to do when the court rulings against those who ordered the killing of protesters in the January revolution came down to acquittals?"

Senior Egyptian security officials, including ousted president Hosni Mubarak, are in effect still "above the law", the columnist argued, although Mubarak and his interior minister have, in fact, been sentenced to life in prison by a court in Cairo earlier this year.

President Morsi took everyone by surprise when he issued a series of irreversible decrees on Thursday, namely sacking the nation's "pro-old regime" public prosecutor, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud. But sceptics and political opponents must not downplay the good intentions, and potentially positive results, behind Mr Morsi's move.

"While opponents of President Morsi - and the Muslim Brotherhood he represents - are accusing him of appointing himself as a pharaoh or acting as a God-appointed ruler, his advisers are asserting that the new decrees will become null as soon as Egypt gets a new parliament and a new constitution," the columnist said.

For the sake of objectivity, one must admit that President Morsi was "forced to take those measures", to "preserve Egypt's revolution, national unity and security", he wrote.

"Egypt's fragility perhaps requires Mr Morsi's iron fist to ward off the hungry for power, all those who readily reject an Egyptian president from the Muslim Brotherhood," the writer said.

Plus, one must keep in mind that Mr Morsi does not have only opponents. His supporters maintain that the measures he took were necessary to protect the revolution during this interim period.

"For them, what the president did was not bring all powers into his hands, as the allegation goes, but rather act on an urgent issue, which is the festering corruption of an old regime that still has hidden pockets across state institutions, especially in the judiciary," the columnist said.

"So, to anyone who is sceptical about the president's motives, I say give him a few months, just enough time until a new constitution is drafted and a new parliament is elected. These will be the protections that the Egyptian state and revolution need to keep the remnants of the old regime from slithering back to power."

Muslim Brotherhood's moves not surprising

One can only be surprised at the shock of all those who criticise the Muslim Brotherhood move in Egypt. President Morsi has given himself authority that no ruler before him since the time of the pharaohs has enjoyed, said Tariq Al Homayed, the editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

Since the start of Egypt's revolution, a number of columnists and scholars have been warning of the Brotherhood's schemes. Experiences with Islamic movements in the past proved that they don't believe in democracy and they use it as a one-way ticket to monopolise power. Their tools are handy and simple: speaking in the name of God and anyone who dares to contradict is an infidel, a traitor and a Zionist.

In the face of widespread public and institutional outrage over the president's takeover, Islamic movements and their allies in Egypt and elsewhere are busy making up justifications.

"Most amusing of all was the excuse that said the way to democracy needs dictatorial decisions. Other justifications claimed that Mr Morsi's move is temporary and that he should be given a chance," said the writer.

"The Brotherhood's manoeuvre in Egypt was expected. When it comes to politics, factors such as history, geography, constitutions and past experiences are essential. Anyone who took the trouble to read one of the Brotherhood's books wouldn't have been shocked at their actions now."

Changed region yields new results in Gaza

The eight-day war in Gaza left 161 Palestinians killed, over 1,200 wounded and much of the besieged city in ruins. But this time Hamas rockets, the will of resistance and the winds of the Arab Spring have made Israel feel more pain than Palestinians and rush for a ceasefire, Taoufik Bouachrine wrote in the Moroccan daily Akhbar Al Youm.

So what happened to the balance of power, which Arab governments had thought would never tip against Israel, that drove it to seek an urgent ceasefire? Three things.

First, deterrent weapons. Gaza's rockets have broken the myth of Israel's unbreakable security. Hamas fired more than 1,200 missiles, some of which hit near Tel Aviv, a major strategic shift in the region.

Second, the response of the Arab Spring countries which did not remain inactive or biased for Israel. Egypt's President Morsi recalled the ambassador in protest and sent his premier on a solidarity visit. Then Foreign ministers of Tunisia and Turkey followed suit, and so did the Arab League.

And third, a failed peace process. The world forgot the toothless authority in the West Bank led by Mahmoud Abbas, which lacks real pressure and relies on good intentions in a world that heeds only the powerful.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk