x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

No one can rule Egypt alone

Arabic newspaper discuss the recent reshuffling of power in Egypt, Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, and the inauguration of Iran's new president.

The lesson from recent reshuffling of power in Egypt is that no one can rule that nation alone

In an article on the reshuffle in Egypt for the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat, Saudi columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashed suggested that what stung most for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in the turn of events that terminated their short-lived stint in power was not the army's stance or the "Rebel" movement.

It wasn't even Al Azhar's disapproval or the 22 million Egyptians who are said to have signed a petition calling for former president Mohammed Morsi's ouster.

It was, he said, the Salafist group's change of heart and their participation as witnesses and supporters at Mr Morsi's deposition ceremony followed by a public political and religious confrontation campaign.

"The obvious lesson to take from Mr Morsi's fall is that no one's camp holds the majority of Egyptian public opinion. Shrouding one's purposes in religion presents no immunity whatsoever from people's wrath and rebellion," the writer said.

Long beards and accusations of takfir [apostasy] didn't do much to help the Brotherhood control the Egyptian people. Their wagering on the army as a guarantor of the democratically elected president was misplaced.

It transpired that Egyptians can't be divided into believers and infidels, especially given that the Salafists, who joined forces with the Muslim Brotherhood during and following the revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime, eventually turned against the Brotherhood to join the "Rebel" movement that brought Mr Morsi down.

"After a year of attempting to control the country, the Brotherhood party had to come face to face with their failure because they refused political partnership," the writer added.

The Salafists surprised everyone indeed with their political savvy and their ability to manoeuvre and to pragmatically develop their political rhetoric. Following their decision to side with the anti-Morsi forces, they issued a statement to explain their move and to respond to accusation of back-stabbing. "The document stands as an intelligent argument against Brotherhood supporters that accuse them of letting Mr Morsi down by joining the ranks of the opposition."

The majority of Egyptians don't care for religious polemics. They want stability, jobs and less arduous living. This isn't realised by political exclusion and power grabbing, the writer said.

President Morsi sealed his own fate when he refused to include his party's revolutionary partners in the management of the country. In the sad end, he was dismissed from office and the Muslim Brotherhood lost their credibility in the public opinion.

The recent events in Egypt were a hard-earned lesson for all political powers in the country, not only the Brotherhood. Respect for the constitution and state institutions serves the ruler and the people alike.

Unpromising vibes ahead of peace talks

After revealing last weekend that a new platform for Middle East peace talks had been reached, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, noted that both Palestinians and Israelis would have to make some "tough choices" if any positive results were to be expected, columnist Mazen Hammad wrote in yesterday's edition of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

But ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu's government were quick to cast doubts over the feasibility of the plan, citing what they perceive as the inability of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, to sign a final-status deal, should one be reached.

"This actually raises questions about the seriousness of the Israeli government in seeking to achieve concrete results," the writer said.

Yisrael Katz, the Israeli transport minister, was one of several Israeli voices to say that Mr Abbas has no control over Palestinians, likening his weak authority to that of President Bashar Al Assad over the Syrian people.

Mr Katz argues that about 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip stand behind Hamas in rejecting the peace talks, but he ignores the fact that Hamas has never been part of Palestinian-Israeli talks that have led to concrete agreements, the writer observed.

"What will become of this whole situation in the next few weeks? We must wait and see," he concluded.

Will Iran open up to the West next month?

The Islamic Republic of Iran has a golden opportunity to open up its shuttered windows and break its long and costly isolation when its new president, Hassan Rouhani, is sworn in on August 4, Mohammed Al Aboodi, an academic in the UAE University, wrote in the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan yesterday.

"The conflict between Iran and the West goes back a long time; it dates back to the Persian-Roman wars before the Common Era, but it became fiercer after the discovery of oil in Iran," the author said.

"When the former Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, nationalised his country's oil, Iran suddenly became the archenemy of western democracy - that is until western powers fomented his overthrow."

But that is history. Today, Hassan Rouhani's Iran seems to be willing to improve its public image and give its younger population a chance to blossom, the writer went on.

"It is true that Iran plays its game shrewdly and knows exactly when and where to put a foot down. It is also seasoned in political manoeuvring and boasts considerable military capabilities, but people in Iran are starting to feel the urge to open up to a world they had been fighting since 100BC."

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk