Political Islam is not yet a force that can move people across national boundaries, but the rise of a charismatic leader could change that, argues Hazem Saghiya in Al Hayat. Other Arabic language commentaries on the role of the army in Egypt and Iran's attempts to deflect the Syrian crisis
Without a charismatic leader, political Islam has failed to sway crowds
The term "Arab crowds" started to lose its lustre during the 1970s, but, despite what may choose to believe, it was never replaced by "Islamic crowds", suggested the columnist Hazem Saghiya in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.
"No doubt the region has been witnessing for the past four decades an increase in Islamic awareness that its proponents refer to as an 'awakening'. No doubt also that this Islamic awareness, much like national awareness, is trans-boundary and it promises a golden state that would recapture the glow of the first Islam. Despite all, we have yet to see Islamic crowds moving to the rhythm of one, sustained cause," he said.
This is mostly due to the lack of a charismatic leader. Now, it's merely a matter of sudden trans-border surges that flare up for a few days if an Islamic symbol is perceived as being defamed, but they soon subside. These ephemeral eruptions, mostly coupled with violence, are as far as can be from anything resembling a common and sustained cause.
This also applies to the various factions: the Salafis are indeed trans-border jihad militants. They have come to the surface in varying forms in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and elsewhere. However, their terrorist activities prevent them from becoming part of a wider popular organism.
The Muslim Brotherhood has international organisations, but they are centred on the domestic affairs of their respective countries. Their rule of Tunisia and Egypt doesn't reflect on the modus operandi of other Brotherhood organisms outside those countries.
"President [Mohmmed] Morsi, who comes from a Brotherhood background in Egypt, may find himself in a bind, as is the case now as a result of his encroachment on the judiciary and the principle of separating authorities. Nonetheless, non-Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood groups have no more than a neutral opinion over the matter," suggested the writer.
The recent coordination between the Brotherhood administrations in Cairo and Gaza over a detente with Israel was in line with diplomatic and international channels. It wasn't supported by the notion of trans-border crowds.
Terms that were coined by the media in the 1990s, such as "the Arab street", only added to the ambiguity. In the Arab street, loyalty is pledged to the region or to a religion. In it, the anti-US and Israeli rhetoric coexists with the youth's strive for merging in the technological and information revolution coming from the West.
"Such a collage of emotions and ideas suggests the decline of ideological awareness in a way that is best expressed in political Islam," added the writer.
In a sense, the Arab Spring was shaped by a series of ideologically and organisationally weak revolutions that could lead to chaos. In any case, there is no need for excessive ideology or trans-border crowds, the writer concluded.
Army must stay out of political conflict
Any parties wooing Egypt's army into stepping in to the current conflict threaten devastating consequences for the entire country. What is unfolding now in Egypt is an intense political conflict, the bounds of which must not be overstepped, warned Wael Kandil in the Egyptian newspaper Al Shorouk.
Amid the highly charged atmosphere in Egypt, no political force is entitled to speak on behalf of the army nor invite it to enter the political foray, the writer said.
Following the January 25 revolution, all political players tried the option of resorting to the military council, and the consequences were catastrophic for Egyptians and detrimental to the revolution.
Curiously, some of those driven out of the scene by the military council are the ones who are calling it in to the ongoing crisis, unheedful of the fact that "three-thirds of revolution's efforts were expended on pulling the military council out of the political playground in protection of the both the army and the revolution".
The solution to the current stalemate, triggered by the president's constitutional declaration, must be a political one produced by people aware of the looming turmoil amid mounting mobilisation and counter-mobilisation, the writer observed.
Everybody must take their hands off the military. But President Morsi "must take steps to clear the clouds of danger and spare Egypt and its revolution a mass suicide", the writer concluded.
Iran's and Hizbollah's red herrings will fail
The attempts from Iran and Hizbollah at opening new fronts will not succeed in diverting Syrians' attention from their war, even if the media were to be preoccupied with a new war, as the one recently threatened by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, wrote Abdulrahman Al Rashed in the London-based Asharq Al Awsat.
Iran and the Assad regime are seeking to use other events as red herrings to distract the world and provide cover for the regime troops to commit graver atrocities, the writer noted.
But even if Hizbollah's rockets pounded Eilat, Israel's southernmost city, they would not stop the Syrian revolutionaries and the party would earn no support.
"We will be happy if Hizbollah clashes with Israel because we know that it will run out of its stock of weapons to become clawless in the face of the new Syrian regime … and the Lebanese forces," he said.
This will be good also because the Palestinian cause would regain momentum, leading major nations to invigorate the peace process.
The Assad regime has already lost control of Syria, and all attempts at distracting attention, widening the war and sealing agreements, will fall flat. The revolutionaries are practically at the doors of Damascus and control Rif Dimashq, he concluded
* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk