JANUARY 25: FOREIGN COUP OR LEGITIMATE REVOLUTION?
Al Jazeera, Qatar, January 17
Exactly seven years ago I marched on the streets of Cairo together with millions of other Egyptians, demanding that our corrupt regime implement democratic reforms. We all had big dreams and hopes.
By my side were my wife and two children: Asmaa, who was 14 years old, and Hossam, her nine-year-old brother. When the four of us reached Tahrir Square, security forces opened fire at us. And while we were traumatized by the incident, we continued taking to streets to exercise our right to protest.
Two years later, during [then-commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el] Sisi’s attempt to overthrow the newly elected democratic government, the worst happened – my beloved daughter, Asmaa, was killed by a military sniper. Thereafter, Hossam was forced to flee the country with his mother and I, a husband and father, was given a show trial and then placed behind bars together with other Muslim Brotherhood members who were voted into office.
Sisi’s military junta did everything it could to mask its ugly takeover of the country. We, the Brotherhood, were immediately accused of “undermining national security” along with those who demonstrated with us. The military issued absurd excuses suggesting that “foreign fighters,” armed with heavy weapons, had infiltrated the country, stormed prisons and attempted to topple the regime. How pathetic.
How could we – members of a government that was elected by millions of Egyptians – be framed as foreigners in our own homeland? And which weapons did we fight with, exactly? Today, seven years since we first marched in Cairo calling for the liberation of our country, Egyptians are more enslaved than ever before. We brought down Hosni Mubarak and voted for a new government, only to see our country taken over by another military regime.
I am writing these lines from prison and I truly hope that they reach the people of Egypt. I have faith in the public’s ability to distinguish right from wrong. It is shocking that a democratic revolution was hijacked so blatantly right before our eyes. We all fought for dignity and freedom. We did not risk sacrificing our lives to end up like this.– Dr. Mohamed Al-Beltagy, general secretary of the Freedom and Justice Party
THE UNSPOKEN WORDS IN ABBAS’S SPEECH
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, January 18
In his keynote address
to the Palestinian Central Committee earlier this month, [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at length about the failed peace process, the strained relationship between the Palestinians and President Donald Trump and the national reconciliation process. But I found what he didn’t say more interesting than what he did.
While Abbas confirmed the allegations that the United States, together with several Arab countries, tried to force the Palestinian leadership into accepting a horrible peace plan that called for the renunciation of Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital and the normalization of ties with Israel, he did not specify which Arab states were behind this effort and what they might have offered. By now, it is clear that Saudi officials were involved in the scheme. It is also clear that Abu Mazen [Abbas] was blackmailed – indeed, almost bullied – into accepting the Likud-backed American “peace” plan.
The Saudis offered very hefty bribes in the form of millions of dollars to the Palestinian president in return for his acquiescence and the abandonment of his people. He bravely turned them down. This was an admirable move, for which Abbas did not receive enough recognition. The focus now ought to be on what may follow. It is not unlikely that Riyadh will intensify its attack on the Palestinian leadership, perhaps by holding President Abbas hostage in Saudi Arabia or forcing him to resign. This would not be extremely surprising given the recent events with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Abbas, in his silence, conveyed a message far louder than any spoken word. He reminded us that even in the absence of international backing, including from our Arab brethren, the Palestinian people will protect themselves. They might be outnumbered and overpowered but they will not give up their hope. And they will prevail. – Abd al-Nasser Issa
BOLLYWOOD’S SHAMEFUL EMBRACE OF ISRAEL
Al-Youm al-Sabea, Egypt, January 21
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded a state visit to India
, where he was warmly received by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both leaders are war criminals, guilty of killing hundreds of innocent civilians.
Modi, whose government took power in May 2014, has still not been tried for his role in the 2002 Gujarat Massacre, in which 800 Muslims were publicly executed by Hindus while authorities stood idly by. Netanyahu is, of course, guilty of war crimes committed against the Palestinian people.
Modi’s romance with his Israeli counterpart is a shame on the entire Indian nation. Once the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement which sought to fight imperialism, India has now been transformed through its partnership with Israel into a state sponsor of colonialism and terror. The peak of this evolution occurred during Netanyahu’s last day in India, when the Israeli met with famous Indian actors. Those in attendance, including some renowned Bollywood stars, heaped praise and admiration on Netanyahu while ignoring the suffering of the Palestinian people.
Indian directors and producers signed a bilateral agreement with their Israeli counterparts to film more Bollywood films in Israel. The Israeli ministries of tourism and culture have committed to subsidizing these productions and to provide other wide-ranging incentives to Indian businesses operating in Israel. This signifies a dramatic divergence from India’s historical role in the global arena: namely, from a power that supported disenfranchised nations to one that helps oppress and subjugate them. Such a development is disappointing enough when it is politically motivated, but it is even more shameful when advanced by leading Indian cultural icons who serve as role models for millions of their people. – Iqbal Jassat
TERRORISM IS BACK
Al-Mada, Iraq, January 19
Last week, 38 citizens were killed and 100 others were injured when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a busy market in central Baghdad. The attack came just a few days after another explosion rocked the Al-Tayaran Square in the Iraqi capital. Thus, an unfortunate conclusion is clear: namely, that terrorism is back.
Granted, Iraq today is safer than it was a decade ago, with suicide bombings having become the exception to the previous rule. Yet the reemergence of terrorism is an important reminder that our nation still depends on strong institutions in order to maintain stability. What we have seen in recent months, however, is the crumbling of Iraq’s security forces due to growing corruption within the ranks of the police, military and government. Officials have been appointed to leadership positions on the basis of kinship rather than experience.
Unfortunately, terrorism never slumbers. It will always find an opening to creep through when the opportunity arises, and a corrupt security apparatus is one of the easiest paths for terrorism to spread. As election season in Iraq nears, these kinds of bombings will likely become more common. The Islamic State and other armed groups will do whatever they can to undermine public safety.
However, the situation is still salvageable – but we must act fast. Unless the Iraqi government assumes responsibility and launches a relentless campaign against terror organizations operating within our country, we will once again be consumed by war. The most urgent change must come from the security forces themselves, by rooting out corruption in our armed forces. We must also ensure that there is no cooperation between terror groups and members of the government. The key to defeating terror isn’t necessarily the strongest rifle. Sometimes, it is all about mindset.– Udnan al-Hussein