Voices from the Arab Press: FROM CAIRO TO KHARTOUM

What Egypt truly cares about is ensuring its ability to continue providing drinking water to millions of citizens.

PEOPLE RALLY in support of Iranian anti-government protests in Los Angeles earlier this week (photo credit: MONICA ALMEIDA/REUTERS)
PEOPLE RALLY in support of Iranian anti-government protests in Los Angeles earlier this week
Al-Shorouq, Egypt, January 1
Throughout history, Egypt and Sudan were one and the same, with Egyptian dynasties controlling Sudan, and Sudanese leaders ruling over Egypt. The two countries were viewed as interrelated pieces of the same land.
Unfortunately, the brotherhood that once characterized relations between the Egyptian and Sudanese peoples has disappeared. Last month, Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations forwarded a memo to the secretary-general protesting Egypt’s decision to hand over two islands to Saudi Arabia, a move that would have reshaped Sudan’s territorial waters. Thereafter, Khartoum recalled its envoy to Egypt amid growing tensions over the distribution of the Nile’s resources.
What happened to the collaboration that once existed between these two nations? What led us to this unprecedented state of affairs, whereby the peoples of Egypt and Sudan now view each other with disgust? Why does a government feel the need to turn to international forums like the UN instead of solving the problem directly with its neighbor? The answer is complicated but comes down to one thing – namely, the media. The Sudanese press has been spreading disinformation regarding Cairo’s position on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and its plan to reallocate the Nile’s waters. The Sudanese people has been brainwashed to believe that the Egyptian government is out to destroy its country. It is unaware of the fact that, from the Egyptian people’s perspective, a victory for Sudan is a victory for Egypt, and vice versa.
What Egypt truly cares about is ensuring its ability to continue providing drinking water to millions of citizens. There are no greed or secret motives, a reality that must be made clear to our southern neighbor. Our leaders must stand up and say with a loud voice that we are your brothers and we come in peace. The ties between our two countries, which date back centuries, are stronger than any territorial dispute over islands or dams.
– Abdel Nasser Salama
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, London, January 3
The relationship between Turkey and Israel has once again hit a major road bump following the American announcement on Jerusalem. In the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Israel and described it as a “terrorist state,” whereas Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu publicly rejected Erdogan’s claim, before accusing him of “butcher[ing] his own people.”
Harsh as these statements may be, the fact that the two leaders unleashed a salvo of attacks on each other isn’t new. What is new, however, are the international conditions that pushed Turkey to act in the way it did. Erdogan’s anger over Jerusalem has less to do with Israel than with the United States. It is Trump, after all, who disregarded the sentiments of millions of Muslims around the world. But Turkey is limited in its ability to act, especially against Washington, and therefore resorted to waging a diplomatic war targeting Tel Aviv.
Concurrently, Erdogan has been working very hard to repair his country’s strained relationship with Russia and was caught off guard by the Kremlin’s tacit support for Trump’s declaration. This is not the reaction he had hoped for. Moreover, Turkey and Russia have increasingly been cooperating on matters pertaining to the Kurdish population of Syria, leaving Erdogan more indebted to Moscow.
With no other means to blow off steam, Erdogan did what he knows best – namely, to attack Israel. The gain was twofold. First, he demonstrated that he will not sit by idly as Jerusalem is given to the Israelis; and, more importantly, his response appealed to his voter base, which wants to see Turkey become more religious while assuming a greater role in the Arab world.
Therefore, these attacks should not scare observers. Turkey and Israel will never normalize ties so long as Erdogan is in power.
– Khurshid Dali
Al-Mada, Iraq, January 2
The Iranian regime is devious and cunning, and it is time we all say this out loud. Iran’s sympathizers around the world, who have stood by the mullahs and defended them, would better serve the Iranian people by finally admitting that those in power must be toppled.
Look at how the current wave of popular uprisings throughout the country is being crushed. The ordinary men and women who took to the streets to express their anger at a tyrannical regime that abuses their basic rights were met by brute force.
While the images flowing out of Iran – depicting regime forces completely crushing the uprising – are troubling, we must not forget that similar photos have been captured in other regional capitals, such as Cairo, Tripoli, Sanaa and Tunis.
Over the past decade, we have seen Arab despots fall from power after years of autocratic rule, including Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, to name a few.
Iran will be no exception, as living in the country has become unbearable. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed in recent years, leaving many people unable to provide for themselves and their families. Crime and substance abuse have become widespread, while infrastructure is completely lacking. The benefits associated with the lifting of sanctions on Iran have not trickled down to the average citizen.
We might not see the revolution succeed this time, but the moment will eventually come. Ultimately, the mullahs, just like other tyrants in the region, will be toppled and brought to justice.
– Wael Kandil
Asharq al-Awsat, London, January 5
The protests we are witnessing in Iran are a dramatic sight, and they must not be undermined. I have read and heard speculations about how the demonstrations will likely die off before any real changes are made on the ground. That’s certainly a possibility, but it is not the only one.
Closely monitoring developments in Tehran is Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who is quickly realizing that the mullahs are not immune to public outrage. While some have idolized and venerated them, they, too, are beholden to the will of the people.
Meanwhile, world powers, some of which previously insisted that Iran’s leaders are rational actors, have come to the inevitable conclusion that the regime is a force for evil. Iran, just like Islamic State, seeks to establish a religious caliphate, albeit a Shi’ite and not a Sunni one. The strategy is similar for both: essentially, to destroy everything in their path while subjugating citizens and expanding military power.
So the mullahs are now finding themselves ambushed, confronted both domestically and internationally. At home, they face raging protests, and abroad they are coming under closer and closer scrutiny.
What options do they have left? The mullahs can certainly continue to crush the protests, but something will eventually have to give. The Iranian regime will have to change or else be toppled. The current situation will force Tehran to choose between two options it dislikes. This is a situation that not even the Americans, in their wildest dreams, could have envisioned.
– Abdulrahman al-Rashed