x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Morsi will put Egypt on the edge of a real catastrophe

Arabic newspapers comment on the conflict between Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi and the opposition. Other subjects in the Arabic Digest include Cairo Film Festival and Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

"It took Hosni Mubarak 20 years to become disconnected from reality. But President Mohammed Morsi, apparently, came to office already disconnected," remarked Egyptian novelist Alaa Aswani in an interview with the Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Youm.

Asked to offer his take on what has been unfolding in Egypt, Aswani said that it started when Mr Morsi decided to be a dictator, something post-revolution Egypt would not accept.

Mr Morsi seeks to persuade Egyptians that he would be a temporary dictator, which is ludicrous. Throughout history, all dictatorships claimed to be temporary and stayed in power forever.

"President Morsi wants to persuade us that he is forced to use dictatorship temporarily to fight the old regime. But the truth is that he is not fighting it, and he did not. Instead, he was complicit with the old regime in countering the Egyptian revolution."

The evidence for this is the fact that Mr Morsi retained Mubarak's security services - who tortured hundreds of thousands of Egyptians - provided they shift their loyalty from the old regime to Mr Morsi and the Brotherhood. But when the old regime was found plotting against Mr Morsi, he pre-empted the constitutional declaration.

"President Morsi will annul the constitutional declaration willingly or unwillingly," Aswani said in response to a question from interviewer Maria Mokrim.

"Do you expect President Morsi to scrap his plans? One is really arrested by the disconnect between the mindset of the state's president alongside the Guidance Bureau and the Brotherhood on the one hand, and the Egyptian reality," he noted, adding that it was striking that Mr Morsi came to power already disconnected from reality.

"I am really astounded that President Morsi took a decision he would not be able to implement" he said. But the Egyptians who just had a revolution cannot accept being ruled by a dictator.

Answering a question about his expected scenario if Mr Morsi does not bow to pressure, Aswani replied: "If President Morsi does not budge, he will put Egypt on the edge of a real catastrophe."

"We are witnessing the end of dictatorships that befell the Arab world after independence," the writer said, commenting about the developments sweeping the Arab region.

"As you know, in the 1950s and 1960s we gained our independence from foreign colonisation, but we fell into the trap of national colonisation: the dictatorial regimes that not only stole the wealth of, and tyrannised, the Arab people, but also sought to transfer power to sons."

The circumstances in Arab countries are not identical, and so democracy will not move at the same pace. But, the writer said, "I am confident that within 20 years from now, we will have celebrated the fall of the last dictator in the Arab world, inshallah".

Cairo Film Festival deemed colourless

The 2012 Cairo International Film Festival was meant to be a colourless, tasteless one, opined Egyptian movie critic Tarek El Shenawi in the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat.

Most people behind the Cairo festival posed as revolutionaries only to avoid being dubbed "holdovers", the critic said.

The Ministry of Culture, which organised the event, has been in tune with all the decisions by the Brotherhood government, a fact that has incensed a number of artists, and led a couple of them to apologise for not being able to attend ceremonies in their honour.

Organisers then cancelled all such ceremonies to cloud the protests against the ministry, which has stood against the majority of artists who reject the constitutional declaration and the draft constitution.

All festivals across the world have shown support for the Arab Spring revolutions. But the people responsible for the Cairo Festival decided to stand on the fence, the writer said.

The Syrian movie Al Ashiq, produced by a regime-linked organisation, was cancelled only at the last moment following criticism. But at the same time, the festival printed an article praising the film in the official brochure and cancelled a pro-revolution Syrian documentary.

The festival "cancelled the two films as if exonerating itself from backing the Syrian revolution against the tyrant", he said.

Abbas initiative insults the martyrs of Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was expected to apply for membership of the International Criminal Court to pursue Israeli officials for war crimes. But Mr Abbas is seeking, once again, to return to the negotiating table with Israel, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi said in an editorial yesterday.

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Monday that the Palestinian Authority, in cooperation with international players, was planning a new Arab-Palestinian initiative, to be launched next month, to resume peace talks. The initiative included six-month negotiations with Israelis, with a halt to settlement construction and acceptance of the 1967 borders as conditions.

The only justification to Mr Abbas's move is that he is meeting the requirements set by some European nations, particularly the UK, warning him against appealing to the international court and demanding a return to unconditional talks.

"Mr Abbas is meeting the first condition, and it is not unlikely that he will drop the settlement-halt part from the second condition in the days to come," the editorial said.

Mr Abbas's unilateral decision is an insult to Gaza's martyrs and it also dispels hopes for a Palestinian reconciliation, it concluded.

* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni