x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Protesters in Egypt intend to force a new election

Sunday's demonstrations in Egypt will mark a turning point for that country, Arabic-language media says. Other topics: Israel and sectarianism.

Aim of Sunday's protests in Egypt is to trigger early presidential election, says 'Rebel' leader

The ultimate objective of the massive June 30 protests planned by the "Rebel" campaign organisers in Egypt is to put an end to "Muslim Brotherhood tyranny" and trigger an early presidential election, according to Hamdeen Sabahi, the founder of the Egyptian Popular Current and leading figure of the National Salvation Front, the anti-Muslim-Brotherhood alliance spearheading the planned protests.

In a three-instalment interview that wrapped up yesterday, Mr Sabahi told the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat that the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, "no longer represents the revolution" and that the grassroots want a chance to vote for a new leader.

Asked whether Mr Morsi's "mistakes" could be summed up in a few points, Mr Sabahi said: "First, he created a rift within society and in the political sphere, while he should have been serving as a voice for unity and a key driver for national concord.

"He favoured his [the Brotherhood's] project over Egyptian society. He completely ignored the slogans and goals of the revolution, which include democracy, social justice and human dignity."

This Sunday's protests have been widely commented on in Egyptian and Arab news media, with many observers noting that serious, nationwide violence might easily flare up between the protesters and supporters of Mr Morsi, especially if security is handled poorly. Mr Morsi has warned of "paralysis" and "chaos".

Earlier this week, the army issued a warning to all political elites, affirming that it will not allow Egypt to implode because of politically motivated violence. On Wednesday the army announced that it had moved troop reinforcements and gear to bases near Egyptian cities.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian economy is being severely weighed down by the omens of the looming protests. The Cairo-based newspaper Al Ahram, citing an expert with the International Monetary Fund, reported yesterday that the economy has lost about 100 billion Egyptian pounds (Dh52.2bn) in the past two weeks.

Asked whether he expected a big clash on Sunday, Mr Sabahi, who ran in the 2012 presidential race against Mr Morsi and others, replied: "Yes, June 30 will be a day where conflicting wills will express themselves: a revolutionary, grassroots force that believes Mr Morsi no longer represents the revolution and has, in fact, become an impediment to achieving its goals."

He continued: "This revolutionary force wants an early presidential election; it wants to hear from the people through the ballot box, and the people can then decide whether Mr Morsi should stay or be replaced.

"It is certainly an occasion to rescue Egypt from the grip of Brotherhood politics, which neither stand up for the revolution nor serve the people. The Brotherhood is not good at running the country's affairs."

 

Fresh Israeli law to keep peace at bay

The "Prawer law", which Israeli legislators say will regulate "Bedouin settlements" in the Negev area, was passed in the Knesset on Monday by a narrow 43 to 40 vote, it was reported this week.

Commenting on the news in its editorial page yesterday, the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej said: "The Prawer law passed by the Knesset a few days ago authorises the evacuation of 40,000 Palestinian Bedouins in Negev, an occupied territory since 1948, and the confiscation of more than 700 donams [about 70 hectares] of land to build 10 settlements."

Clearly, Israel's Judaisation activities are extending beyond the West Bank and Jerusalem, and are now markedly targeting Negev, in a new effort to take Judaisation southward by appropriating more land there, the newspaper said.

Note that the law was passed on the eve of the fifth round of visits to the region by the US secretary of state, John Kerry. During this visit, Mr Kerry will meet Palestinian officials in Ramallah to resume discussions about a new conflict-resolution package which, again, is pegged to a resumption of peace talks with Israel.

"Israel never wastes as much as a minute in enforcing its fait-accompli policy and pursuing its settlement agenda to Judaise all the land of Palestine … letting others wander the labyrinths of peace talks and conflict resolution," the paper said.

 

Qatari leader's correct words on sectarianism

All eyes were on Qatar in the past week, as the country's 33-year-old new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, took over power from his father, ushering in a new era, wrote Mansour Al Jamri, editor of the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat, in his column yesterday.

In his inaugural address, Sheikh Tamim rightly pointed to a key issue that threatens the stability of the Middle East and the Gulf region: sectarianism.

"Indeed, we are seeing the forces of destruction and ignorance crushing our Arab societies … with many nowadays adopting a fascistic discourse, inciting hatred without shame and with complete impunity," the editor said.

Because Qatar plays an active diplomatic role in the Arab world and has a strong media asset in Al Jazeera, it is hoped that Sheikh Tamim's dismissal of sectarianism will have an effect.

Quoting from Sheikh Tamim's address, the editor wrote that "dividing Arab societies along sectarian and denominational lines … jeopardises their social and economic immunity, and prevents their evolution on the basis of citizenship, regardless of religion, denomination or sect".

This division, Sheikh Tamim added, opens up chinks that "allow foreign powers to meddle in the internal affairs of Arab nations and to gain influence within them".

 

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi

AElBahi@thenational.ae