Rising tensions a bad omen for Egypt

The opposition's plan for more protests, after the bloodshed last weekend, signals dangerous times ahead, an Arabic editorial says. Other topics: more on Egypt, and Syria.

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As tensions escalate, terrifying scenarios await Egypt in the foreseeable future

The Egyptian opposition's National Salvation Front has called for nationwide protests on Friday to reaffirm the sanctity of martyrs' blood, and to achieve the objectives of the revolution. That was its official response to President Mohammed Morsi's call for national dialogue, the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi said in its editorial on Tuesday.

"The front's statement will surely shut down any attempt at a possible solution to the present crisis that threatens to prolong the paralytic state in the country, and to escalate violence," commented the paper.

Last Friday, on the second anniversary of the 2011 revolution in Egypt, anti-government demonstrations broke out in a number of major cities, leading to clashes between demonstrators and police forces that left seven people dead.

The following day in the city of Port Said, there was a court ruling against 21 people who were convicted of killing more than 70 people in a football field massacre in the city last year. This sparked outrage and violent altercations between angry crowds and security forces, which left more than 35 people dead.

In response, Mr Morsi declared a state of emergency and imposed a night-time curfew in three cities. He also called on the opposition to resolve the crisis through talks. But his proposal was immediately rejected by the opposition front.

The main opposition figures, Dr Mohammed El Baradei, Hamdeen Sabhi and Amr Moussa set a number of conditions for dialogue with the government. They insisted that Mr Morsi own up to his responsibility as president for the killings in Port Said, and demanded that he amend the controversial articles of the constitution and form a national salvation government.

Sources close to Mr Morsi deem such conditions impossible and believe they were deliberately designed to be rejected.

"Rejection of dialogue coupled with calls for protest demonstrations next Friday is a clear challenge. [The opposition] is using the blood spilt in confrontations between the police and protesters in Port Said to galvanise the masses and mobilise them against Mr Morsi and his regime," the paper opined.

"Egypt is quickly slipping into uncreative chaos that could eventually lead to one of two options: either a civil war between the conflicting camps or an intervention by the army to impose peace."

It is clear that the Egyptian opposition aims to topple Mr Morsi either through protests or by pressuring him into calling a new round of parliamentary elections.

It is highly unlikely that the president would acquiesce to such conditions, which means that the coming days in Egypt will be laden with more confrontations and more bloodshed, the newspaper concluded.

Russians getting ready to abandon Assad

The Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has finally acknowledged that chances of the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, retaining power are diminishing, and that Mr Al Assad made a fatal mistake, Samir Al Hajawi wrote in the Qatar-based newspaper Al Sharq.

Mr Medvedev's statement, in an interview with CNN in Davos, indicates that Moscow has come to the conclusion that the Assad regime is about to collapse despite its support, as well as support from China, Iran, Hizbollah and Iraq's Shiite militias, Al Hajawi wrote.

Now, it is time for the big bargain: Al Assad's head in exchange for Russia's interests. This can be sensed in the Russian official's remarks. Russia will not allow Mr Al Assad to fall "unless it gets the price. It would rather continue to back the regime to keep fighting, and to arm the Iranian-backed National Defence Army, formed recently by Al Assad", he wrote.

The bottom line of Russia's stance is that the fate of Mr Al Assad is a secondary matter, a stance Syria's opposition must cash in on. The revolutionaries are unable to win the battle because the US and Europe are not allowing advanced weapons to reach them. So far, the Russian stance has changed only theoretically. Russian-made weapons are still supplied to Mr Al Assad's people. Now, the opposition must try to negotiate with Russia to stop backing the regime.

Egyptian people can't be fooled any longer

The Egyptian revolution has not borne fruit, because the idea behind the uprising was not repression or violence, the columnist Amjad Arar wrote in yesterday's edition of the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

Egyptian people wanted to end persecution and the state of emergency and restore their dignity.

The practices of the former regime, however, are being revived by the new one, Arar wrote.

But it will not take a long time for those trying to emulate the old regime to learn that the Egyptian people cannot be fooled any more. They already know that the Brotherhood hid its genuine intentions to grab power under a pretence.

People learn from what they experience. Demonstrations in Egypt since the departure of Hosni Mubarak have proven that what is important is providing an alternative.

Thankfully, the Egyptian people cannot be deceived again by any power. The fake opposition, which served the dictatorial regime for decades, will never be with the revolution.

But Egypt will remain greater than the Brotherhood, the opposition and the Black Bloc. Egypt is not only for its own people, but also for Arabs, Muslims and the rest.

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk