Voices from the Arab Press: The July 23 Revolution- Past, Present, Future

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

GERMAN CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi pose after an April 2019 news conference in Berlin (photo credit: ANNEGRET HILSE / REUTERS)
GERMAN CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi pose after an April 2019 news conference in Berlin
(photo credit: ANNEGRET HILSE / REUTERS)
Al-Etihad, UAE, July 24
It is very normal for American domestic and foreign policy to take a dramatic turn in the aftermath of presidential elections. This most typically happens when a new president steps into the White House rather than an incumbent continuing to serve a second term. The upcoming US presidential election on November 3 is certainly not an exception. If [President Donald] Trump wins, it is unlikely that much will change in US foreign relations. After all, Trump seems confident about the success of his current policies. 
But if his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, wins the election, things might look dramatically different. This would certainly be a plausible scenario, especially given recent polls conducted in the US that show significant momentum for Biden. Nevertheless, one must think about the limits of the change that could occur even if Biden wins. If we consider his political rhetoric, we might conclude that the potential change will be greater in the domestic arena than in foreign stances. 
Biden will likely shift his attention to issues pertaining to the economy, the environment and US racial tensions. A few days ago, for example, he announced an environmental protection plan that includes a commitment to making significant investments in clean energy infrastructure, with the aim of reducing the United States’ carbon emissions. This plan, if pursued, would dramatically change America’s domestic politics. Perhaps one of Biden’s first steps would be to restore US participation in the Paris Climate Agreement, from which Trump withdrew. 
However, the potential change in America’s foreign policy toward the Middle East could be less significant than experts believe. Although Biden was a staunch supporter of the Iranian nuclear deal, it will not be easy for him to turn back the clock and restore a degree of normalcy in his country’s ties with Iran, especially in light of the effectiveness of the sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration on Tehran. Thus, if Biden wins, the new administration might open a small window of opportunity to test Iran’s intentions. Unless the mullahs express a clear commitment to reconsidering their actions in the Middle East, Biden will maintain a similar stance to that of Trump. 
As for the second controversial issue in our region – the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – a Biden administration is more likely to manage it with caution. Here, the expected change could include forcing Israel to freeze settlement construction and stopping the Netanyahu government from annexing territories in the West Bank. However, Biden will not follow in the footsteps of his predecessor by enacting controversial measures comparable to the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or the transfer of the US Embassy to the city. It is more likely that his administration will turn a blind eye to the damage that has already been done by Trump and move forward from there. 
– Waheed Abdul Majeed
Al-Watan, Egypt, July 23
Sixty-eight years after the July 23, 1952, revolution carried out by the Free Officers Movement, Egyptian society remains deeply divided on the merits and costs associated with this monumental event enshrined in our collective memory. 
On the one hand, there are those who exaggerate the accomplishments and gains achieved by the Free Officers Movement and refuse to recognize any of the disadvantages. On the other hand, there are those who place blame on the revolution for all the problems and crises experienced in Egypt today. To clarify, I belong to those who believe that the July 23 Revolution is one of the most important events in contemporary Egyptian history. 
This revolution raised people’s demands for emancipation and independence. It brought an end to Egypt’s colonial rule and led to unfathomable social and political change in our society. Moreover, the occurrence of the revolution was inevitable due to the incompetence of King Farouk and his disregard for the aspirations and hopes of Egyptian citizens. Therefore, it was bound to happen sooner or later. 
Nevertheless, this belief does not prevent me from acknowledging the fact that the political system installed by Mohammed Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser failed at achieving many of its stated objectives and, in the process, failed many hopeful citizens in Egypt. Nasser succeeded in strengthening Egyptian national identity and building a strong industrial base, but he also rushed to centralize his power, seize control over resources and limit the free-market economy. He succeeded in enhancing education, healthcare and the treatment of the poor, but abandoned the private sector. He succeeded in mobilizing the energies of the Arab nation but lost most of the major battles he fought. He sided with the people, workers, peasants and the middle class but deprived everyone else of true democratic rule. 
Therefore, complete alignment with or against the revolution does not reflect the reality of what happened. It neither explains our present affairs nor helps us think about the future. Indeed, it is our duty to understand the nuanced nature of the political system born following the July 23 Revolution and unpack the reasons for both its successes and failures, not just for the sake of academic debate, but for the impact and legacy of the revolution that accompany us to this day. 
Understanding our present and thinking about our future requires us to look back. We must understand the profound societal changes that the revolution created and appreciate both the positive and negative impacts it has had on our country and society. We must put aside our political partisanship and discuss this event with composure and respect. Only then will we be able to learn the lessons of the past and make better decisions for our future. 
– Ziad Bahauddin 
Al-Mada, Iraq, July 25
The Iraqi government continues to take a neutral stance against the kidnappings, killings and violence unfolding in our streets. Other than the same old statements issued by the Ministry of Interior warning that the state will not tolerate violence or chaos, nothing has been done to restore security and stability to our country. 
The state, backed by its security apparatus, continuously insists that it will not allow any actor in Iraq to possess weapons and terrorize the population. The slogan “arms in the hands of the state” has been repeated to us much like a broken record. But the killings continue and the investigations barely keep up. People have started joking that as dozens of assassinations and kidnappings take place around us, the government simply buries investigative files in secret archives with the hope that this will make them go away. 
Unfortunately, perpetrators are not brought to justice. Nothing has changed except for the tragedy of the victims’ families. After losing their loved ones, these families are forced to live their lives in fear, anger and bereavement.
What saddens me most is that the government has all the means necessary to ensure public order and hold criminals accountable for their actions, but if we don’t have respect for ourselves, how will anyone else have respect for us? 
Several years ago, during the peak of the European migrant crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood in parliament as her country absorbed over a million Middle Eastern refugees, including thousands of Iraqis, and said: We will welcome these refugees with open arms and provide them with hope for a better future. Today, only a few years later, thousands of Iraqis live in Germany under a system that provides them with adequate healthcare, personal safety, affordable housing and financial prosperity. But those Iraqis living in Iraq are still deprived of their most basic rights. What has their government done for them? Where are their political leaders? How can a foreign leader have more respect for the wellbeing of Iraqi citizens than the Iraqi government itself? 
How can we ever build a better future for ourselves when our leaders care less about our wellbeing than do those in other countries? 
– Ali Hussein 
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.