German Papers See Arab Spring Turning Into `Hard Winter`
Friday, December 7, 2012
Opposition leaders have expressed no interest in taking up Morsi`s invitation to talk and said protests would continue on Friday, December 07, 2012.
Report by Renuka Rayasam: “The Arab Spring Is Turning into a Hard Winter”
In the face of growing opposition, Egyptian President Morsi has pledged to forge ahead with his polarizing constitution and defended the decrees that have granted him near absolute power. German editorialists say that without a compromise, the latest round of violence won`t be the last.
This week Egypt has seen the worst outbreak of violence since the Arab Spring demonstrations that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak`s regime two years ago. Six people were killed and hundreds injured when opposition protestors and supporters of President Mohammed Morsi clashed on Wednesday night. And with more demonstrations planned for Friday after midday prayers, there are fears that the rift between the two sides will only deepen.
Despite the unrest, embattled President Morsi stood his ground in a nationally televised address on Thursday night. The president, who is backed by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, said he was open to dialogue with the opposition starting on Saturday, but refused to withdraw decrees he issued last month that put his authority beyond judicial review. He also rejected demands that he postpone a Dec. 15 referendum on a draft constitution that would cement several tenants of Islamism into law.
But opposition leaders say that without those concessions they won`t agree to talks.
United States President Barack Obama called Morsi on Thursday night to express concern for those who have been injured in the violence. According to a statement issued by the White House, the President made clear that the violence was unacceptable and urged both Morsi and the opposition to take part in a dialogue without preconditions.
But in his television address Morsi angrily defended his actions, saying that he was safeguarding the stability of the country and protecting Egypt`s citizens. Opposition leaders, meanwhile, have expressed no interest in Morsi`s invitation to talk and protests continued on Friday.
German commentaries on Friday say that with both sides unwilling to back down, the opportunity for reconciliation is dwindling.
The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“The only thing that Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood functionary who rose to become head of state, has proven, is his inability to facilitate the integration of Egypt`s 85 million people. ... As a result, the inhibitions of the protestors have been lowered, the riots are becoming bloodier, and the demonstrations in front of the Presidential Palace and in Tahrir Square are again costing lives.”
“Neither side can be counted on for understanding and both the opposition and the government are taking their fight to the street. The palace security tanks driving through Cairo recall Egypt`s third facet of power: the army. If they were to come back, Egypt`s entire political experiment will quickly come to an end -- both for the Islamists and the liberals.”
The financial daily Handelsblatt writes:
“In light of the current polarization between the Islamists and the secular camps, Egypt now finds itself in a deep political crisis. The crisis contributes to the worsening of the country`s long-standing and severe economic problems and weakens the role of Egypt in the region.”
“As a result, Egypt appears to be condemned to pay a high price for political destruction and the spiritual stagnation of the former dictatorship. The country suffers from the incompetent governance of the Muslim Brotherhood and at the same time the immaturity of the opposition.”
“Egypt needs a national, democratic consensus between its political powers instead of constant confrontation. That will only deepen the divide. And Morsi must reconcile with the opposition so that his time in office remains legitimate.”
The conservative Die Welt writes:
“There is a prevailing notion that implies unbound, undivided and uncontrolled power is justifiable. In countries that for decades have known nothing other than autocracy or dictators, so the argument goes, a direct transition to a democratic, constitutional state is impossible. It`s actually even dangerous, because people who have no experience with freedom will misuse it, and the consequences will be chaos and renewed violence. That`s why these countries need a well-meaning autocrat that will lead the people with a strong hand and very, very slowly take them down the path towards a new period of democracy and division of powers. That is, at least, Russian President Vladimir Putin`s narrative. It sounds good. The reality looks very different, though. That path towards democracy is rarely achieved.”
“Morsi ... is an Islamist, but not a holy warrior. Rather, he is a crafty power-hungry politician. As such, he could be prepared to compromise. However that will only happen if he is dealing with adversaries who know what he wants, which is nowhere near the case. The Arab Spring is turning into a hard winter. Political forces in Egypt have not succeeded in winning time for an open process to found a democratic state.”
The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
“Violence as a means of political confrontation is escalating and a calming of the situation is not in sight. For both sides the stakes are simply too high. The Muslim Brotherhood does not want to give up the power that they have gained. Supporters of the old regime and secular activists know that for the foreseeable future they will not be able to defeat them at the ballot box. President Morsi`s advisors insist on a dialogue without preconditions. The chance of success is low, because neither side is prepared to move away from their maximum demands.”
“As long as [Morsi] insists on a dialogue without preconditions and the other side has such specific preconditions, a dialogue will not be possible. Morsi`s credibility now rises or falls with whether he can depoliticize the judges and break with the past. To bring about non-partisanship, however, is barely possible in such a heated atmosphere. Confrontations will continue for another round.”
(Description of Source: Hamburg Spiegel Online in English -- English-language news website funded by the Spiegel group which funds Der Spiegel weekly and the Spiegel television magazine; URL: http://www.spiegel.de/)
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Turkish editorial says Egyptian president “playing with fire”
BBC Monitoring European
December 07, 2012
Anti-Mursi demonstrators stage a protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo December 7, 2012. Egyptian opposition leaders rejected a national dialogue on Friday that Islamist president Mohamed Mursi had proposed as a way out of a crisis that has polarised the nation and provoked deadly clashes on the streets. Opponents of Mursi staged more protests in Cairo and other cities, while his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood held emotional funerals for six of the movement`s members killed in fighting around the presidential palace earlier in the week. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Editorial by Bulent Kenes: “Egypt, Morsi and Democracy”
Democracy is generally defined as a form of administration by which the public is governed by itself or its representatives. This is clearly an accurate but inadequate definition. This is because democracy is not about governance only. For one thing, democracy is about coexistence. Democracy is a system in which economic and socio-political benefits and power are fairly distributed among social groups. In a democracy, rulers must refrain from using the limited mandate given by the majority of people for a limited period against the interests of those who do not support them. Democracy is a lifestyle that empathizes with diverse ideas and ways of living and requires that they be treated with tolerance or, at worse, with patience. Democracy is the product of an environment of understanding in which societies, like human beings, get rid of the craze of their adolescence and step into common sense and maturity.
Where this sort of experience, maturity or mentality of a society has not developed properly, numerous elections can be held and many seemingly democratic institutions established without ever being able to know certainly that democracy has come to that country. Democracy is largely about whether those who are mandated by the public to rule the country and those who oppose them act in a truly democratic manner regardless of the democratic institutions established. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula discovered so far to enable societies to develop democratic maturity. Instead, there are short or long paths as well as easy or arduous processes which every individual society must take or go through alone. These processes, unfortunately, entail that that society must sometimes go through painful experiences. These experiences cannot be earned overnight by departing with democratic demands and overthrowing a consummate despotic dictator. While no one will object to the abolition of despotic regimes, it is hard to suggest that this destruction will automatically pave the way for the establishment of a strong democracy.
Who can suggest that the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein, a dictator who ruled his country with an iron fist for nearly 25 years, brought democracy to Iraq? It is true that democratic elections were held with difficulty. But do we see the winners of these elections adopting a democratic political culture or acting by the requirements of this culture? Isn`t it that Nouri al-Maliki`s sectarian policies and repressive methods are running neck-and-neck with those of Saddam Hussein? Of course, if Iraq is not first divided due to the policies Maliki is pursuing with an inconceivable ambition and unprecedented egotism, the time will come when the country will become a true democracy. But to assert that the desired democratic Iraq has been attained with the exit of Saddam is to declare that we know nothing about democracy.
What about the recent developments in Egypt, known as “the smart kid of the Muslim world”? Is that all the Muslim Brothers can do with their century-old experience after waiting so long to take the helm of the country, suffering many sorrows and going through many ordeals in the interim? Didn`t the Muslim Brothers obtain any useful experience during their 100 year struggle against exclusion from the system in order to realize that other groups, too, are entitled to life and respect for lifestyle and deserve to have their share in political power?
Didn`t Mohammed Morsi obtain any democratic experience and etiquette while he was working as an academic in the US, where democracy has improved even at the micro levels? Apparently he didn`t, because he issued a decree that would make him immune to judicial review in a manner that is unimaginable in a democratic country governed by rule of law, only six months after he was elected as president. Shouldn`t the after effects of the Arab Spring that destroyed the 30-year-old Hosni Mubarak dictatorship lay the foundations for a new dictatorship?
How quickly Morsi forgot the fact that he could only secure 2 5.5 per cent of the general vote in the elections where he stood as the candidate of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), established by the Muslim Brothers, in the first round of the elections held in early 2012. He must also have forgotten the fact that he could secure a vote that was only a few notches above his rival in the second round. Otherwise, he wouldn`t have issued that infamous and ominous decree on grounds that it would serve as a barrier against the judiciary`s efforts to undermine the constitution drafting process. What`s done is done with this decree and Egypt`s already troubled democratization process had derailed into chaos. The anti-democratic, illegal and illegitimate nature of Morsi`s decree was evidenced by the fact that six of his 17 advisers resigned from office. What gleans from this process is that you cannot conciliate democracy with the mentality of conquest. Nothing is achieved by the conquering of certain institutions or political power; rather, the real test of democracy starts at that point.
As is known, Morsi had been hailed during the time he took bold steps against the military tutelage system, soon after he became president. Morsi`s radical steps were perceived by the outside world as brave moves towards democratization. But with his last move, Morsi managed to destroy all these positive perceptions at once. The international community has justifiably started to entertain the notion that Morsi had taken those seemingly democratization-oriented steps in order to consolidate his power.
The dissident groups who earned their experience in Tahrir Square demonstrations could respond to Morsi`s decree in no way other than to express their objections in the same way they had employed against Mubarak. Thus, leftists, liberals, Christians and Mubarak supporters themselves flocked to the streets. Morsi`s insistence on not backpedalling on the decree united all dissident groups as a single camp against the temporary alliance between the Muslim Brothers and the Salafis. The Egyptian people were quickly polarized, and violent clashes erupted between opposing groups. Five people died and 450 were wounded in these clashes on Wednesday night.
If tension and polarization cannot be defused, I fear Egypt will be dragged into a chaotic environment where casualties will only increase. And unfortunately, there is no civilian or democratic power that can stop such chaos. Is Morsi, who had exerted great efforts after assuming office to limit the powers of the army which had been the main supporting pillar of the old regime, aware that his recent blunder has the potential to dub the army the “saviour” once again?
It is just a matter of time before the army emerges as the only organization that can stop the process, particularly given the fact that it sided with the public during the ousting of Mubarak and thereby survived the process relatively unscratched. If things go off the rails completely, it would be futile to expect the US, EU and Israel to rebuke any military intervention. Unfortunately, Morsi is playing with fire and doesn`t know it. He is also unaware that with his amateurish, careless and ambitious moves, he is squandering the historic chance Egypt has obtained after centuries of hurdles and crises.
Source: Zaman website, Istanbul, in English 7 Dec 12
© 2012 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
The Stubborn President
By Matthias Gebauer in Cairo
December 07, 2012
Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Morsi supporters chant slogans during a funeral of three victims who were killed during Wednesday`s clashes outside Al Azhar mosque, the highest Islamic Sunni institution, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. During the funeral, thousands Islamist mourners chanted, “with blood and soul, we redeem Islam,” pumping their fists in the air. “Egypt is Islamic, it will not be secular, it will not be liberal,” they chanted as they walked in a funeral procession that filled streets around Al-Azhar mosque. Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets after Friday midday prayers in rival rallies and marches across Cairo, as the standoff deepened over what opponents call the Islamist president`s power grab, raising the specter of more violence. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi addressed his nation on Thursday night. But instead of striking a conciliatory tone aimed at calming the tense situation in his country, he continued to toe the Muslim Brotherhood line. More violence is almost sure to be the result, and Morsi himself shoulders the blame.
In the end, Egypt`s President Mohammed Morsi took all of 35 minutes for his nationally televised speech Thursday night. And his intention was clear. During the entire day leading up to the appearance, Morsi`s advisors had repeatedly explained that the president wanted to explain himself and his policies to the people of Egypt and to inject calm into what has become the most severe crisis since the revolution against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
And it was certainly entertaining. Originally, the palace had announced that the speech would take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, but then the “Address to the Great Egyptian Nation” kept getting pushed back until finally, at 10:30 p.m., Morsi turned up on national television in front of an Egyptian flag.
He need not have made the effort. The Islamist president didn`t accomplish a single one of his goals with his address, nor did he really try. Instead, his flowery rhetoric served merely to further deepen the deep divide between his supporters and the political opposition from the youth movement, the left-leaning and secular parties and even the judiciary.
There wasn`t a hint of real concessions to the opposition. Even the BBC abruptly shut off its live broadcast of the speech after seven minutes because it offered nothing new.
Morsi made no overtures to his opponents, instead repeating that he would not budge from the decrees he issued at the end of November, granting him broad authority and removing checks on his powers from the judiciary. He even said that he would stick to the December 15 date for the referendum on the hastily composed Islamist constitution.
Given such a hard-line approach, Morsi`s empty calls for national dialogue are farcical. He invited opposition leaders to meet him at the presidential palace on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., but was rebuffed. The opposition does not believe Morsi is prepared to make any concessions, and called for more demonstrations instead.
Morsi`s short reign continues to polarize the nation. During his telvision appearance, he blamed the opposition for the Wednesday night orgy of violence which erupted on the streets outside his presidential palace, the bloodiest clash in the country since the fall of Mubarak in the spring of 2011. In reality, of course, both sides are to blame, with Morsi`s Muslim Brotherhood eagerly chasing their political opponents through streets of the upscale Heliopolis district for hours. They too abused those they managed to catch.
Still, Morsi sought to blame prominent opposition leaders for the escalation and even referenced mysterious “foreign powers” -- just like his despotic predecessor Mubarak.
The speech, however, did provide clarity on one point: Morsi remains intent on strictly following the course of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist group wants to see their man, who won a narrow victory in summer elections, to put Egypt on the path to fundamentalist Islam. And the Muslim Brotherhood is in no mood for compromise. After more than 80 years in the political underground, Brotherhood leaders have decided to seize their chance.
And Morsi increasingly looks the part of a fainthearted Brotherhood puppet. He appears to have accepted his country`s descent into violence, making more clashes on the streets of Cairo inevitable.
A New Escalation is Unavoidable
Indeed, confrontations followed Morsi`s speech almost immediately. On the east side of the capital, a group rallied outside Muslim Brotherhood headquarters before scuffling with the police and breaking into the building. Damage was limited, but it was nonetheless symbolic. The rioters had barely been dispelled before the Muslim Brotherhood set its propaganda machine in motion. In a Facebook posting, they said that their headquarters were in flames, and the news went around the world.
More such incidents are to be expected. The Brotherhood has become well practiced at presenting itself as the blameless victim and as the sole protector of democracy in Egypt.
On Friday, thousands of pious Brotherhood supporters carried the dead from Wednesday`s clashes into the enormous Al-Azhar Mosque in central Cairo to their graves and praised them as innocent martyrs in the fight for democracy and a new Egypt.
But there could be more violence this weekend and beyond. The opposition has also called for additional demonstrations and the depth of animosity makes further injuries and even deaths a real possibility.
With his stubborn attitude, President Morsi carries primary responsibility for this development. With his speech, Morsi wasted the last chance for reconciliation in Egypt`s post revolutionary experiment.
Turkish paper views “Sunni revival” in Middle East
BBC Monitoring European
December 07, 2012
Column by Umit Enginsoy: “The Sunni revival”
It was 2006 when the American scholar Vali Nasr, of Iranian origin, wrote his masterpiece “The Shia Revival.” It was on former president George W. Bush`s inadvertent act to invade the mostly Shi`i-dominated Iraq, which gave the country as a gift to the United States` worst enemy, Iran, without firing a shot. It was also on the divergence between two great Islamic sects, the Shi`i and the Sunni, which happens to be worse than between Catholicism and Protestantism.
And the big prize of this conflict is now Syria, which has not been solved yet.
Several years later, it is time for another book in the wake of the Arab Spring, on effectively “The Sunni Revival,” which is replacing the Shi`i revival. The United States` role in the origins of the Arab Spring is debatable, but the fact that Sunni Islam is on the rise is not. The United States, under the rule of President Barack Obama, has greatly benefited from the Sunni Arab Spring.
First, consider where Turkey was two or three years ago when and how it, in a collaboration with Brazil, worked hard inside the United Nations Security Council, as a non-permanent member, against new sanctions on Iran because of its unclear nuclear aspirations. Now the same Turkey has allowed a NATO X-band radar system on its soil in Kurecik to spy against the nuclear ambitions of the same Iran.
As has been repeatedly warned by Iran, Kurecik has been under constant threat. Now a few predictions: Republican People`s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu is right to declare that the deployment of German and Dutch Patriot air defence systems in southern Turkey, agreed to under US permission within NATO, are due to be placed somewhere that will definitely guard Kurecik against a missile attack.
See how a Turkey, which once protected Iran within the United Nations, has transformed. Now, did you think Turkey would act like it did a few years ago? This is a huge failure for Iran, and a huge success for the US
Turkey also acted solidly with the Sunni Arab states of Egypt and Qatar in trying to find a truce a couple of weeks ago between the Palestinians in Gaza, under the rule of Hamas, and Israel, despite its own difficulties with that country. The effort was ultimately successful. I am not among the Turkish analysts who thought that Israel was ready to attack Gaza from the land throughout the process. Israel is most effective when it hits from the air and the sea. In the war against helpless Gaza in 2009, it can be said it was a draw. But when it started the land warfare against the Hezbollah in 2006, it was a clear defeat.
This is because in modern warfare, all modern armies, including the American and Russian armies, suffer heavy casualties against more primitive militaries on land. Look at Iraq and Afghanistan (twice).
Because on land you have almost equal chances or you are more vulnerable to losses. So it took me just a few hours to guess that the Israeli offensive would not be expanded to the land.
If we come to Egypt, the Arab Spring was seen by many as a largely secular movement aimed at establishing constitutional democracy. But actually, it was not certain that the secular constitutionalists would win it. And in practice, they lost it. President Mohamed Morsi is an Islamist, and his intention was to strengthen the role of Islam in Egypt and he is doing that now. The move on the judiciary signalled his intent to begin consolidating power. Now, do you want another prediction? He will win it against the liberals, because as an Islamist, fighting the remnants of the Hosni Mubarak regime, he is on the right side of the history.
And yet another prediction? Despite his recent victory against Israel and the United States at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a member of the Fatah movement, fighting against the more radical Hamas, is doomed to lose, probably in a few months to be replaced by a Hamas member. Because he is on the wrong side of history, and Hamas is on the right side.
Source: Hurriyet website, Istanbul, in English 7 Dec 12
© 2012 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.