x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

One way or another, army was to blame

Monday's killings in Egypt represent the army's failure, says an Arab editor. Another writer says Mohammed Morsi feared the voters, and another laments the de-emphasis on Palestine.

As the country's top authority, Egypt's army must take the blame for Monday's massacre

The slaughter that took place on Monday outside the Republican Guard barracks in Cairo, where Egypt's recently deposed president is believed to be held, falls entirely on the shoulders of the Egyptian army, said Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

More than 50 people were killed, including eight women and four children, and at least 435 were injured in the violence involving protesters supporting Mohammed Morsi, the deposed president.

"The Egyptian army must shoulder all responsibility because it is supposed to show more restraint and discipline and more concern for Egyptian blood," the editor wrote in a front-page column yesterday entitled Egypt's massacre is a prelude to fitna. The Arabic word fitna is commonly used to refer to large-scale, bitter discord - religious or ideological - that is likely to be violent and dangerously divisive in the long term.

"The army must also take all the responsibility because it is the de facto ruling authority in the country. Protecting the lives of Egyptians ought to be among its top priorities," he added.

Witnesses told The National's correspondents in Cairo that violence erupted after members of the police and the army opened fire on their sit-in at dawn, using shotguns and tear gas. However, the police and army strongly denied initiating the use of firearms, arguing that security forces had no choice but to defend themselves, and government buildings, after being attacked.

"For many, the argument that a group of terrorists had infiltrated the sit-in is hardly convincing," the editor said. "For however dangerous, and however armed, this group might have been, the sole fact that 50 people were murdered and hundreds others wounded, many of them seriously, shows that there was malice aforethought to use excessive force and to kill."

Egypt is sliding dangerously into chaos, the editor said. "Anyone who thought that the army, which conducted its coup under the banner of preserving national security, is capable of controlling the state of affairs was under an illusion."

Peaceful protesters of all stripes must be protected by state authorities, whether they support Mr Morsi or back the Tamarod (Rebel) movement that brought the president's arrest, he argued.

"We blame President Mohammed Morsi for the many mistakes he made during his short time in office - which was just a year - but we do not blame his Muslim Brotherhood supporters when they take to the streets to peacefully protest the arrest of their elected president … Our disagreement with many of their policies cannot change this."

One must remember that it is tolerance, not repression, that helped millions of Tamarod supporters reach their goal of removing the country's president, he said.


Palestinian cause falls through Arab cracks

The turmoil convulsing parts of the Arab world has turned attention away from Palestine, the Arab-Muslim world's "central cause", relieving Israel from its nightmares and allowing it to speed up its expansionist projects, columnist Barakat Shlatweh wrote in yesterday's edition of the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

Israel used to fear a unified Arab position, the writer said, but it is now gloatingly watching terrible developments in places like Syria and Egypt, and hoping for the chaos and confusion to last, so it can continue, unquestioned, the roll-out of its Judaisation agenda on Palestine land.

"In recent years, if Zionist extremists as much as insinuated that they would desecrate the Al Quds shrine by taking a walk in its yard, the Islamic Ummah would rise up in fury," he wrote.

"Marches around the world would follow, to express refusal and outrage. Today, however, Zionists can enter Al Aqsa Mosque for a stroll at any moment, without anybody uttering a word. This is what happens when the whole Ummah engages in religious and denominational strife," the writer said, suggesting that a conspiracy is at play in the turmoil engulfing Arab countries like Egypt.

Until Arab unity and, before it, Palestinian cohesion are restored, the Israeli side is going to keep making headway during these tough times, the writer concluded.


Lack of confidence made Morsi fear a vote

Staunch supporters of the deposed Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, argue that his removal amounts to an overthrow of legitimacy established through the ballot box, said the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan in its editorial on Tuesday.

"They forget that the ballots change according to the performance of the winners they yield. Ballots don't immunise elected officials from error or accountability," the paper observed.

The former president explicitly admitted to a series of mistakes that he committed during his short term. He should have taken the army's advice and acquiesced to the millions of protesters requesting early elections, the paper added.

"If the former president had been confident that his stature with the public wasn't affected by his mismanagement during the past year, and if he had been confident that he could still win an in early elections, he would have opted for them with a clear conscience."

On the contrary, Mr Morsi was well aware that he had lost a great deal of the public's confidence. He was certain that a new round of elections would deprive him and his party of power - and that is why he chose to reject the people's demands, the writer concluded.



* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi