x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Will declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation empower radicals?

Arabic newspapers discuss the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation by Egypt's interim government. Other topics are: crises in Turkey and South Sudan

On Wednesday, a day after the attack on a police headquarters in Cairo that killed 16 people and wounded more than 100, the Egyptian cabinet decided to declare the Muslim Brotherhood group a terrorist organisation.In comment, the editor of the online publication Rai Al Youm Abdel Bari Atwan suggested Egypt is experiencing a rough transitional period marked by sharp political division and a governmental open war on the Muslim Brotherhood.

“As the date set for the popular vote on the new constitution approaches, it is likely that the country would witness an escalation in violence, especially now that the Brotherhood group was dissolved and declared a terrorist organisation,” he said.

“Obviously, Egyptian authorities have decided to crank up their clampdown on the Islamist movement and resort to force to eliminate it physically – to complement its political elimination – and shut the door to any reconciliation attempts and hence block any hopes for the Brotherhood to have a part to play in the political process,” the writer added.

It is possible for a country of Egypt’s calibre and capabilities to surgically remove the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt commands a one-million-troops-strong army and, since the ouster of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi from power last June, it has managed to put all of the Brotherhood’s senior officials behind bars awaiting trial.

“But, as I’ve repeatedly said before, having the Brotherhood movement and its allies acting above ground and in clear daylight is far better than having them underground. I have warned that the policies of isolation and elimination have backfired in numerous countries that practised them such as Iraq, Libya and Syria and it is unlikely that they succeed in Egypt,” the writer opined.

“This an Islamist movement that is has been deeply rooted in Egypt’s political and religious life for nearly 80 years. Arresting its leaderships doesn’t mean its head was cut off indefinitely,” Atwan noted.

No doubt that the new Egyptian constitution will receive widespread approval when it is submitted for popular referendum on January 14 and 15 despite the boycott of the Brotherhood and their supporters. A new constitution is key to achieve the political and security stability that would allow for economic growth and a solution for the current economic crisis.

However, the greatest fear at this stage is that branding the Muslim Brotherhood group as a terrorist organisation would empower the more radical wing in the group that believes in armed resistance against the state. It would be sufficient for one among thousands of the group’s members to turn to violence to destabilise the country and cause a bloodbath.

Who is really plotting against Mr Erdogan?

It seems that the Turkish prime minister is heading towards the cliff, said the columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat. Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who is up to his neck in trouble - has opened fire on everybody, including his ally Fethullah Gülen.

“Just yesterday, the police barged into the houses of Erdogan’s ministers where they found bagfuls of Iranian money. A string of resignations and prosecutions followed in what is considered the greatest case of corruption in modern Turkey. Down goes the reputation of the ‘invincible’ man,” he said

Erdogan alleged that he is the target of an external conspiracy, but who could the author of this conspiracy be? Is it his political partner Gulen, Syria, Egypt or Israel? Or is it perhaps the US, Europe, the Gulf or the Greeks?

All these accusations only fuelled the existing animosity against him. He might be right in his claims, but isn’t he the one to blame for these conflicts, most of which are born of trivial reasons?

“The Turkish prime minister is self-contradictory in words as well as in deeds. He wonders why everyone is plotting against him yet he forgets that he attacked his ‘conspirators’ first and that it is only normal that they retaliate.”

Erdogan is undoubtedly a valiant fighter and an extraordinary public figure, but excessive confidence has placed him in an unfavourable situation and garnered this opposition against him.

South Sudan’s separation was a big mistake

Without warning, a civil fight broke out in South Sudan recently proving that its separation from the North was an unforgivable historical error, but also asserting the impossibility of reaching a common ground between its ethnic groups, said the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

“The UN’s readiness to double its troops in the South is a clear indication that the international community itself lacks confidence in the capacity of South Sudan to hold on as a state as its institutions collapsed in a matter of days,” he said. The Western world is the culprit for a huge contemporary mistake by allowing, nay, instigating the independence of the South.

“Today, we are witnessing one of the most tragic repercussions of this independence.”

The fight broke out mid-month when presidential guards from two tribes opened fire on each other. Unexpected ethnic violence followed claiming the lives of thousands, and experts were quick to label the situation a civil war and not just containable altercations.

The billions great powers spent trying to mend matters between the North and the South were all in vain because the “South vs. South” trap closed faster than they or the experts have ever imagined.

Digest compiled by The Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae