Divided Egyptian media reflect split in the country

Arab and Middle East media chime in on crisis facing Morsi government.

January 31, 2013 03:10
3 minute read.
Morsi and Merkel and press conference in Berlin, January 31, 2013

Morsi and Merkel and press conference in Berlin 370. (photo credit: Tobias Schwarz/Reuters)


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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was in Berlin on Wednesday to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel amid the latest political crisis back home, in which more than 50 people have been killed.

Meanwhile, protests continued in Egypt amid reports on Wednesday of fighting between protesters and “thugs,” according to the Egyptian Al-Masry al-Youm. The Arab and Middle Eastern media have been commenting on the situation, often to dramatic effect.

The Egyptian media is generally divided between pro- and anti-Muslim Brotherhood outlets. In addition, there are those seeking to put the blame on one party or another.

For instance, Khalid Amayreh wrote an article in Al-Ahram titled, “The rich Arabs’ betrayal of Egypt,” where he blasts the “oilrich Arab states” that are “watching rather indifferently as 90 million Egyptians reel under a harsh, unprecedented economic and financial crisis.”

He points out that Qatar is the only Gulf state that has come to Egypt’s aid. He says that Gulf states have helped a little in the past but now they must “allocate at least a $100 billion” to Egypt. Amayreh goes on to say that a larger crisis in Egypt would be much greater even than the 1948 Nakba, or the disaster that the Palestinians suffered from Zionism.

The Arab world “has been able to survive the loss of Palestine,” but “it would be difficult to imagine that the Arab world...

would survive” a weakened Egypt, Amayreh wrote.

Opinion pieces in the liberal Al-Masry al- Youm generally condemned Morsi, with one by Diya Rashwan saying that the removal of the current government may be the last opportunity to prevent a downward turn of the country.

On the other hand, an article on the Muslim Brotherhood website on Tuesday by Amr Mostafa asks who is behind these events. “Are there foreign hands involved?” He goes on to suspect a “conspiracy,” which is “trying to thwart” the Egyptian revolution.

In Lebanon, the paper As-Safir has an article by Mustafa al-Labbad, who claims that Egypt is at risk for a second revolution. He writes that the Brotherhood has not convinced “Egyptians to support a hastily written constitution that would set the foundations for a Sunni-style Velayat-e faqih,” referring to the form of government in Shi’ite Iran, which can be translated as “the rule of the jurisprudent” – that the religious leader should also be the political ruler.

The article goes on to say that the opposition has failed to take advantage of Morsi’s troubles and “translate” them into “political pressure.” And that in the meantime “the Brotherhood will try to split the opposition.

The Saudis, as usual, come out with more criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood regime. Alsir Sidamed writes in the Saudi paper Arab News on Wednesday that “Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi’s decision to impose a state of emergency in the cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya marks a turning point. It shows Morsi will simply resort to force in the absence of a national agreement.”

In the Saudi-backed Asharq al-Awsat, Abdul Rahman al-Rashed raises the possibility that Egypt could collapse, referring to the comments by the Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who warned that a continuation of the crisis could lead to “the collapse of the state.”

Rashed says the Egyptian people must not allow “chaos to take hold.” “Morsi is now facing two choices: reconciliation or confrontation.”

He goes on to conclude, “While if Morsi rejects reconciliation, we might wake up one day, perhaps within the next few months, to military rule. Should this happen, Egypt and the entire Arab world will have wasted the most important change to have taken place over the past 100 years.”

An article on the Gulf News website states, “The fact that citizens are resorting to violence confirms that a growing number are no longer willing to trust the country’s institutions.”

An article in the London-based Arab paper Al-Hayat opined that the Egyptian revolution was supposed to unite society, but instead the Muslim Brotherhood used religion for its political purposes.

The Tehran-based paper Kayhan states, “Dialogue and negotiations are the most appropriate option. Egyptians clearly see the intervention of the US, its Western allies and dependent Arabs.”

The Iranian paper Shargh writes that the problems of the Morsi government will allow foreign powers to interfere, specifically the West, Israel and some Arab states that are concerned about the Brotherhood’s rise to power. They “are inclined to use the opposition as leverage with the current government,” the paper wrote.

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