Voices from the Arab press: Our doors are open to refugees

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world

 SUDANESE FAMILIES are seen next to metal beds as they look to make their way to Egypt through the Qustul border, in Wadi Halfa, Sudan, May 1.  (photo credit: Heba Fouad/Reuters)
SUDANESE FAMILIES are seen next to metal beds as they look to make their way to Egypt through the Qustul border, in Wadi Halfa, Sudan, May 1.
(photo credit: Heba Fouad/Reuters)

Our doors are open to refugees

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, May 5

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Every day, we read about the displacement of hundreds of Sudanese fleeing the ongoing conflict and war in their homeland. The number of people forced to leave their country continues to climb steadily, without any sign of abating in the foreseeable future.

Recently, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry reported that it had facilitated the passage of more than 15,000 Sudanese citizens and approximately 2,000 individuals hailing from 50 countries and six international organizations into safe territory. The Egyptian Red Crescent is providing humanitarian and medical assistance to Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers at the country’s crossing points.

According to the International Organization for Migration and government officials, there are an estimated 110,000 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Egypt. However, the most remarkable figure is the presence of four million Sudanese (from Sudan and South Sudan) who have fully taken up residence in Egypt.

Some of these individuals have fixed jobs, while others work in commerce and private business. A small number rely on aid from international organizations or assistance provided by the Egyptian government. We have never seen this many Sudanese brothers in Egypt before. They were not considered refugees or displaced persons, but rather brothers with whom we share a livelihood.

 FLAG DAY celebration in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 11.  (credit: AHMED YOSRI/ REUTERS) FLAG DAY celebration in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 11. (credit: AHMED YOSRI/ REUTERS)

The integration of our Sudanese brothers and sisters into Egyptian society, as has been the case with other Arab nationalities, confirms that Egypt is indeed the “mother of the world” that welcomes everyone.

Therefore, any voices calling for border closures, or other measures that prevent those fleeing war from entering Egypt must cease, despite the economic situation. I am proud of the Egyptian state’s humanitarian efforts to protect and care for refugees, in contrast to more advanced countries that do not offer the same level of aid.

Here in Egypt, no refugee lives in a tent; rather, the state is doing its utmost to provide them with necessary services. Access to health care and education is an example of this kind of treatment. Rather than closing the door on those seeking refuge, Egypt should work in coordination with international organizations to accommodate and make life easier for these people, and continue playing its vital role in the international community. – Abdel Latif El Menawy

Sudan: Dialogue now or disaster to come

An-Nahar, Lebanon, May 4

Only a dramatic change in the balance of power can convince the warring parties in Sudan – Lt.-Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Lt.-Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti) – to return to the negotiating table and reach a settlement that will bring an end to the conflict.

The seven-day truce, which came after three weeks of fighting, is a hopeful sign of diplomatic progress. Neither side has a clear advantage, and both must realize that a long war of attrition could have unpredictable consequences.

Is this enough to convince the two men that dialogue is the better option? If al-Burhan and Hemedti sit down together at the table, it could signal the start of a much-needed power-sharing agreement. It has become increasingly clear that neither of them can win the battle swiftly enough to crown themselves the next leader of Sudan.

Continuing the war poses a great risk to both sides and could bring about regional and external interventions, thus altering the political and military landscape of the entire country. Such a situation could even lead to another secession, more than a decade after the split of South Sudan.

No one can dispute the strategic significance of Sudan in the Horn of Africa, East Africa, and the continent overall. However, a prolonged war could render Sudan a forgotten country, unable to cope with its troubles in light of the countless other conflicts and crises around the world, such as the Russian-Ukrainian war, which appears to be on the brink of a new escalation that could lead to a direct confrontation between Moscow and NATO.

Tensions are also escalating in Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the Korean Peninsula; developments that could bring the Pacific and Indian oceans to the brink of a Chinese-American military confrontation.

The war in Sudan has the potential to expand beyond the Sahel countries, deepening the crisis and threatening to spread among warlords. If prolonged, it will fail to produce a victor, and both al-Burhan and Hemedti will suffer from diminishing strength. New rebellions, fueled by the ambitions of tribal leaders, could arise from the chaos and fighting, and will find support both internally and externally.

The international community remains committed to ending the war in Sudan and finding a viable solution for both sides. However, it is likely that regional and global initiatives will eventually decline, leaving Sudan to its own devices.

This could result in a similar situation to that of Libya, where 12 years of chaos have resisted all international attempts to restore order. Sudan could also succumb to the same fate as Somalia, which has been divided between a legitimate government (with limited control beyond Mogadishu), jihadists, and pirates for over 30 years.

It is not too late to prevent the fighting from escalating into a catastrophic war that would result in more deaths, injuries, and displacement of millions of Sudanese. These people are already suffering from the deepening economic crises caused by the numerous authoritarian regimes that have ruled the country.

Most of these regimes were headed by generals who clung to power at the expense of the people. The exception to this is Field Marshal Abdel Rahman Swar al-Dahab, who faithfully handed over power to civilians in 1985 after overthrowing the Nimeiri regime.

The world is now watching to see who will take control of the power. The West has tolerated the two generals for various reasons, and they have monopolized the power they are now fighting over. Perhaps experience will convince al-Burhan and Hemedti to show mercy to Sudan and its people and to engage in dialogue to share power: a right that belongs to the people, not to them. – Samih Saab

Saudi Arabia’s balanced diplomacy

Okaz, Saudi Arabia, May 6

Countries around the world are grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for evacuating their citizens from Sudan. This evacuation effort encompassed many countries, including India, South Korea, the US, and even Iran. This evacuation, following the deterioration of the fighting in Sudan, is a testament to the Kingdom’s diplomatic capability and influence, even in an active war zone, where few other diplomats have succeeded to engage with the warring parties.

Several countries have acknowledged the difficulties in evaluating their citizens from the region. Sudan isn’t the first war zone where Saudi diplomacy carried a great impact. Saudi Arabia has garnered great respect from the parties in Libya for its position which calls for a Libyan solution that is accepted by all parties, without favoring one over another, in a region that has been largely divided over the past decade.

Similarly, a look at the Ukrainian crisis reveals that Saudi Arabia’s neutral stance had a considerable impact on the prisoner exchange deal held between Moscow and Kyiv. This was a response to the calls from the US to discuss OPEC+ production levels, which were tied to Saudi Arabia’s backing of Russia in its military and economic struggles against US and European sanctions.

This role played by Saudi Arabia is of great importance, given the influence that the Kingdom has in the region, and the necessity of the region to recover from the effects of the Arab Spring. Moreover, the region must be vigilant and avoid getting dragged and embroiled in the conflicts of other countries, such as the 14-month-long conflict between Ukraine and Russia, or the periodic military threats against Taiwan.

Saudi Arabia’s ability to serve as an honest and trusted mediator bodes well for the security and stability of the Arab Gulf and the Middle East more broadly. – Abdul Rahman Al-Tariri

The West can’t simply wait its problems out

Al-Ittihad, UAE, May 3

In recent years, the political landscape in the Middle East has become increasingly complex and intertwined. Leaders of the major powers involved in the region have learned that tenacity often yields positive results. Consequently, the outlook and objectives of world leaders must be focused on achieving a balance between the interests of the people of the region and those of the great powers.

Optimism may appear difficult for those familiar with the region’s issues and problems, yet even the biggest pessimists will agree that conflicts can be reduced in intensity, even if they cannot be fully resolved in a short time.

Over the past 60 years, Western policies toward the region have been inconsistent. These policies have been tried, leading to a greater continuity of disagreement or division within the countries involved, and while they have achieved some successes, they have also been marked by waves of disappointment among the Arabs.

It is remarkable that Westerners have persistently sought to bring peace to the region, and all are proud of the efforts made, yet subsequent politicians have not built upon the foundations of their predecessors’ policies. For example, the current administration in the US is facing more delicate and intricate issues, due to the new Russian and Chinese approaches toward the region and beyond.

Therefore, US politicians and diplomats must explore Russia and China’s intentions toward the region’s problems and act accordingly.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the escalating trade and economic war with China have caused deep divisions among Western countries – the US and EU – and both Russia and China. To prevent the world from slipping into a dangerous slide that could lead to its destruction and the annihilation of humanity, Western diplomacy must seek to engage in a new constructive dialogue with these two countries regarding the pressing issues of today.

A dialogue that provides a platform to address the issues in the Arab region and its regional surroundings must be pursued to promote peace, whether it be concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran’s nuclear program, the Syrian peace process, or the relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and its neighbors.

After the Gulf wars, Western politicians have been unable to come to a consensus on the nature of their military and strategic relations with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, and Jordan. This has led to strained relations between the parties that should be allies. To ensure a more harmonious relationship, Western countries must strive to reach a broader agreement with these friendly nations.

The agenda of Western countries in the region is packed with pressing matters, and they require innovative thinking to tackle them, as well as ample financial aid. In some foreign policies, time can bring solutions, but in others, this is unfeasible and requires urgent and direct action.

When it comes to the problems of the Arab region, the latter approach is more effective, and if Westerners want to realize their interests prudently, they must address them promptly and directly. – Abdullah Juma Al-Haj

Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.