x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

You can't compare Egypt to Syria

Bashar Al Assad says he's acting like Egypt's generals are, but in fact there are big differences, an Arab columnist notes. Other subjects: Mubarak's acquittal and tumult in Libya.

Syria's Assad tries to prove a point by citing events in Egypt, but the cases are not similar

Conflicting camps in Egypt look at the latest developments there from their own perspectives, columnist Elias Harfoush noted in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

While the generals sees their actions as a necessary correction of the revolution's objectives, the Muslim Brotherhood interpret their removal from power as a relapse for the country.

In Syria too, the turmoil in Egypt, and its repercussions on Syria itself, have found various explanations.

The Syrian regime saw the ejection of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi on July 3, and the subsequent fall of the Islamist regime in Egypt, as an opportunity to confirm the legitimacy of the battle Bashar Al Assad has been waging, for over two years, against "terrorists".

It didn't take Mr Al Assad long to comment on the recent turbulence in Egypt, declaring the end of political Islam in the region.

"The Syrian president thinks time has gone backwards to before March 2011, and that his analysis of the causes behind the crisis in his country, which he interpreted as a confrontation between the regime and terrorist groups, was correct," the writer said.

But while Mr Al Assad is busy exploiting the Egyptian events for the survival of his own regime, he forgets to see the contrast between the objectives of the operations that his army and the Egyptian army are carrying out.

In Cairo, the military moved in response to mass protests clamouring for the fall of the Brotherhood rule.

In Syria, however, the army has consistently acted, since the first days of the revolution, to quell mass protests demanding democracy and the departure of a tyrannical regime, the writer went on.

In Egypt, the popular reaction was support for the change. In Syria, the army's brutality elicited widespread outrage and led to numerous defections from its ranks.

"Nonetheless, the Syrian regime does benefit from the blow that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has taken. The defeat of the Islamists in power has reverberated throughout the region and has undeniably affected the Brotherhood's branch in Syria," the writer opined.

Syria's Brotherhood didn't comment on the developments in Egypt especially since their fight in Syria is not against the regime alone, but also against other opposition parties that range from secular to extremist.

Furthermore, Syria's Muslim Brotherhood never acquired the popular base that the branch in Egypt enjoys.

The Syrian regime may have its own interpretations for Egyptian events, but exploiting what happens there to serve its interests is unrealistic at best, in light of the mounting international pressure demanding its departure, and due to the growing opposition forces in Syria.

Mubarak's acquittal is a return of old regime

Egypt's judiciary arrested Mohamed Morsi on charges including the detention and torture of citizens, and murder. Meanwhile, it decided to clear the deposed former president, Hosni Mubarak, of corruption charges, and his lawyers expect him to be released this week, the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi said in an editorial.

The sacking of Egypt's state prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, a pillar of Mubarak's rule, was a popular demand after the January 25 revolution. But his replacement Talaat Abdallah, appointed by Mr Morsi under a constitutional declaration, caused an uproar and was dismissed by the opposition as an attempt to encroach on the judiciary.

After Mr Morsi was toppled, the judiciary reinstated Mr Mahmoud, and Mr Mubarak's grip was back, with a vengeance.

While it is natural for the tremendous machine of the old regime to try to acquit its figures and destroy its enemies, what is outrageous is to simultaneously clear the autocratic Mr Mubarak and charge the elected president, Mr Morsi, with a long list of crimes.

Meanwhile, Egypt is sinking into more massacres and blood, as reason and politics take a back seat.

For the old regime to capitalise on the situation this way to settle old scores in such a provocative way is an insult to the country's judiciary.

Political killings are a threat to Libya

The assassination on Monday of a former judge in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi as he left a mosque is a new testament to the turmoil plaguing this country, 20 months after the toppling of former leader Muammar Qaddafi, wrote the UAE-based daily Al Bayan in its editorial yesterday.

The wave of assassination has become a nightmare haunting Libyans, amid fears of more violence and killing to come after more than 14,000 prisoners were reported to have escaped from detention centres, including 1,200 from a jail in Benghazi, the paper noted.

The cradle of the Libyan uprising, Benghazi, has become a hotbed of blasts and attacks that have targeted judges and military officers, as the interim government remains unable to establish peace and security and form competent police and army services.

Human Rights Watch said recently that at least 51 people have been killed in the wave of assassinations in Benghazi and Derna, in eastern Libya, since Qaddafi's overthrow two years ago.

The growing number of political assassinations, particularly in eastern Libya, should prompt the current government to to more to counter the terrorists and halt the wave of violence and killing.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk