Brotherhood's anti-UAE remarks spark outrage

An Arab writer says the Muslim Brotherhood's bad approach is undermining Egypt's foreign relations. Other topics: Rami Hamdallah and strange visitors to Syria.

Anti-UAE comments by leading Brotherhood politician draw extensive criticism in Egypt

"As if that were just what we were missing … a fabricated diplomatic crisis with the UAE," wrote Nader Bakkar, a columnist with the Cairo-based newspaper Al Shorouk, on Friday in an article titled Who's going to pay for El Erian's comments?

Essam El Erian is the vice chairman of Egypt's ruling Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On Monday, Mr El Erian told the Arab Affairs Committee of the Shura Council, the upper house of the Egyptian parliament, that Cairo had "lost its patience" over 11 Egyptians detained in the UAE since December, who are under investigation for allegedly threatening the country's national security.

As The National reported last week, the investigation is believed to have revealed the names of hundreds of people with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, who are said to have held secret meetings and gathered confidential information about the UAE's defence capabilities.

"It just seems that the entire Egyptian people, and for generations to come, will have to foot the bill for the Muslim Brotherhood's never-ending battles at home and abroad," he wrote.

In another comment, Mr El Erian said: "Tell the UAE that nuclear Iran is coming, the Persians are coming, not the Egyptians, and you will become slaves of the Persians."

Mr El Erian's comments were disowned by his own party and "categorically rejected" by the Egyptian foreign ministry.

"The statement from the chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party, rejecting Mr El Erian's hostility, is not enough," Bakkar said. "The Egyptian government must show a greater sense of responsibility and declare, in all clarity, its stance on comments like these. It must elucidate for us the broad lines of its foreign policy, if those lines exist at all."

For his part, Abbas Al Tarabili, of the Egyptian paper Al Wafd, the mouthpiece of the country's opposition Al Wafd Party, wrote on Friday that Mr El Erian's comments were the Brotherhood's "latest lies". "The more painful part for us - even before it pains the Emirati people - is that those comments were made by Mr El Erian during a committee session at the Shura Council, and the speaker of the Council [failed to] rebuff those comments then and there."

"We say this as we are all aware of how much affection Egypt and Egyptians have had for the people and the rulers of the UAE ever since 1971, way before the Brotherhood flung itself into the seats of power in Egypt."

On Thursday, another Egyptian paper, Al Dostor Al Asly, reported that Ahmed Al Fadali, the coordinator of the Independent Party Current, a small electoral alliance, filed a complaint with the attorney general against Mr El Erian, accusing him of undermining peace between Egypt and the UAE.

Hamdallah resignation highlights ills of the PA

The resignation of the Palestinian Authority's new prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, barely two weeks after his appointment, shows that the current dysfunction within the Authority is structural, not transitory, noted the UAE-based newspaper, Al Khaleej, in an editorial yesterday.

At the root of this chronic crisis is the PA's inability to "separate partisan loyalty … from government work, meaning public service that extends beyond individual and partisan interests", the newspaper said.

It seems that Mr Hamdallah, a seasoned academic with little political experience, has quickly realised that being the PA prime minister meant serving the interests of the party itself, not the Palestinian people, so he decided to call it quits, according to the newspaper.

"Refusing to be an instrument in someone else's hand, he decided to withdraw quietly. The man did not see in the high government post any prestige or luxury; he simply approached it as a position from which he could serve the Palestinian people, not an elite or a party."

Mr Hamdallah's deputies were infringing on his powers and, in some cases, bypassing him, which naturally obstructed him from doing his job, the newspaper said.

"Indeed, Mr Hamdallah's resignation epitomises Palestinian failure at every level," the paper concluded.


Europe's left and right both backing Al Assad

About 10 days ago a large delegation of far-right politicians, representing several European parties, visited President Bashar Al Assad of Syria in a show of support, according to columnist Hazem Saghiya of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

Nick Griffin, the chairman of the British National Party, was in that cohort, alongside parliamentarians from the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik), the National Front of France, the Tricolour Flame Social Movement of Italy and the National Democrats of Sweden, among others.

Although this visit might not have been shocking, involving as it did parties that either flirt with, or adhere to, "neo-fascist" ideologies, it was surprising to see European left-wingers also pay a visit to Mr Al Assad, he wrote.

"The right-wing delegation meeting Mr Al Assad could have actually run into the left-wing delegation that had just met him," the writer said.

Both groups seemed to have implicitly agreed on a couple of points, just by virtue of their visit to Damascus: first, that the Assad regime is fighting radical Islamists, not protesters-turned-fighters; second, that Syria is the region's last bulwark against US-Israel domination.

This is a rare instance where Europe's left and right could agree on something.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi


Published: June 23, 2013 04:00 AM


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