x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Wrong approach to Egypt's Brotherhood

Foes of the Muslim Brotherhood should simply point out its political ineptitude and lack of answers, an Arabic commentator says. Other topics: Syria and Arab middle classes.

Egypt's revolutionaries must expose the sterility and leadership failures of Muslim Brotherhood

By depicting the Muslim Brotherhood as a demonic, extraordinary force that has some secret plans to take over the entire country, Egypt's revolutionaries are repeating the modus operandi of the former president, Hosni Mubarak, in fighting the Brotherhood, wrote Bilal Fadl yesterday in an article in the Cairo-based newspaper, Al Shorouk.

The revolutionaries who disseminate such rhetoric are doing the biggest favour to the Brotherhood. They are helping them to hide the truth that the Brotherhood is "politically inefficient and ideologically sterile".

The Brotherhood does have an ability to organise. They acquired this ability during years of secret activity, along with a knack for using religious slogans, and supporters with a remarkable capability to deny facts. Yet these faculties are of no use to ordinary citizens who only want all their chronic problems solved, the writer observed.

Most of those who supported the revolution will not back down from their legitimate demands. It would be an illusion to think otherwise. These people who contributed to the toppling of the Mubarak regime and ceased to back the military council after it got involved in killing people can do the same with the Brotherhood.

It is a mistake to repeat the nonsensical mantra that portrays the Brotherhood as an extraordinary power - with limitless funds and soldiers. Instead, that viewpoint must be uprooted. Pro-revolution people must offer a political alternative and expose the Brotherhood's failures and lies. Otherwise "we will push people to the bosom of the Brotherhood", Fadl wrote.

Every revolutionary has a right to dream of his own revolution, provided he can convince as many people as possible that this revolution has enough merit to be a popular one. Some people make a mistake by imagining that they can convince people of a "revolutionary project" that seeks to silence and restrict the freedom of millions of Brotherhood members and supporters, who voted for Mr Morsi in the first round.

A sensible alternative would be to offer a realistic political platform for the eight million people who unwillingly voted for Mr Morsi to save the revolution from remnants of Mr Mubarak's regime, as well as the seven millions who unwillingly voted for Ahmed Shafiq in fear of the Brotherhood.

The past months have proven that Egypt, despite all its woes, is a threat to the Brotherhood and all the closed-minded people, and not the other way around. "The Brotherhood's popularity has never received blows as bad as those received recently", according to the writer.

What's needed now is to convince the common people that Mr Morsi, who is controlled by the a Brotherhood, is a threat to their welfare.

No Arab middle class, no Arab stability

Arab and non-Arab scholars agree that one of the main reasons Arab societies have been so tense socially - and thus unstable politically - is the negligible size of the Arab middle class, wrote Hussein Odat, a Syrian writer, in yesterday's edition of the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan.

Decades after independence from their respective colonisers, most Arab nations are still suffering from a huge divide between their upper and lower classes.

If the middle class had been "given a chance to grow and to play its historic role", the writer said, "Arab societies would not have been prey to the chaos, coups and drastic transformations they have been through".

Besides acting as a socioeconomic buffer, the middle class is also the ethical and political valve that absorbs the excesses of both the upper and lower classes.

Lust for wealth - and the instinctive desire to protect it - has led the upper classes in Arab countries to endorse corrupt regimes that defended their interests and pushed the downtrodden further down, the writer said.

Likewise, the downtrodden grew up to perceive the regime in place -and its laws and justice system - as "an enemy".

Without a middle ground that mitigates these two antagonistic drives, a socio-political balance can never be reached in Arab society, or any society for that matter, the writer concluded.


Terorists gain a strong foothold with Syrians

Jabhat Al Nusra, the extremist rebel group in Syria, is estimated to be more than 15,000 strong. The group, one of the most effective in the fight against the Assad regime, has been gaining ground, controlling strategic posts and towns, which has earned them the acceptance and admiration of citizens, said columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashid in the Pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

Syria observers say Jabhat Al Nusra shows all the signs of an Al Qaeda-aligned ideology, but it consciously adopted a different method for dealing with people. It looks look after the public and spends generously to provide them with their daily humanitarian needs. This is how the group managed to garner the sympathy of war-struck citizens and so recruit fighters.

"Should Al Qaeda gain a foothold [in Syria], it would be deeper and stronger than anything it has achieved in its several attempts from Afghanistan to northern Mali. Chasing it out of Syria wouldn't be easy at all, whether the Assad regime falls or remains in place," the writer said.

"Save the Syrian people from massacres. Don't let them seek solace with Al Qaeda and the likes of it.

"Otherwise, don't blame them in the future," the writer warned in conclusion.

* Compiled by the Translation Desk