US honeymoon with Brotherhood is almost over

America cannot continue to have cordial relations with the current Egyptian regime, an Arabic-language columnist says. Other topics: Syra and Iraq.

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Recent developments in Cairo and Washington suggest that the honeymoon between the US and Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood is coming to an end.

Commenting on the subject, the columnist Emile Amen wrote in the Dubai newspaper, Al Bayan: "The issue has been most obvious in the last few weeks, especially with President Mohammed Morsi's official call for parliamentary elections in May and Washington's decline to receive him until after the elections are over. It's a move that is intended to avoid giving the impression that Washington supports the Brotherhood in the race for power."

This raises questions about whether the scheduled elections are doomed to failure, and if so, why insist on conducting them?

Three essential facts lead us to believe that the legislative elections would be anything but successful. The only sure outcome that can be expected from them is deeper rifts among various segments of Egyptian society.

The much-needed national reconciliation between Egyptians has yet to see the light. Animosities are growing more acute between the ruling Islamists and supporters of the former National Party that account for more than three million angry opponents.

All the while, security is nonexistent. The violent clashes in Port Said threaten to recur, especially in times of elections when emotions run high.

More importantly, the economic situation in Egypt has transgressed to such levels that many observers think that the country would be bankrupt by election time and, then, elections would be the last thing on the starved people's mind.

What could the Obama administration, once a strong supporter of President Morsi and the Brotherhood, do in view of these serious considerations? The Foreign Policy magazine observed in a recent issue that President Obama's cooperation with Mr Morsi, as the first democratically elected president of Egypt, doesn't necessarily mean that he supports him and the Brotherhood in power. The magazine went on to say that Washington wants nothing more than to see the Brotherhood defeated in elections.

In the early days of the revolution, US pragmatism led Washington to believe that the Muslim Brotherhood was the most prominent and organised faction on the ground and might be best placed to run Egypt.

"Was it a mere illusion? Surely US monitoring of the evolving situation and the daily protests that are inching to civil mutiny is giving them the impression of a disintegration of the general order," the writer said.

The prospective fall of the concept of an institutional state in Egypt evokes fears of a disruption of strategic balances that would have damaging effects in the entire region, the columnist concluded.

Iran's stubborn Syria policy is unrealistic

After a meeting in Tehran with the Syrian foreign minister, his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, confirmed on Saturday that president Bashar Al Assad would remain Syria's legitimate leader until elections are held next year.

The fact that it was Mr Salehi who made the remark is astonishing, the journalist Emadeddin Adeeb wrote in an opinion article in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

It was as if Tehran, and not Damascus, is the centre for making such a decision for Syria.

Mr Salehi's statement was a clear message to Washington that any serious deliberation about the structure of the regime in Syria must be based on the assumption that Al Assad would remain in power until 2014, meaning no tangible progress over the situation could be expected before that date.

By allowing him to retain his authority until the next elections, Tehran is seeking to ensure that the Syrian president exits honourably. Meanwhile, it continues to provide the regime with financial and military support in its war against its people.

Mr Salehi even called on Mr Al Assad's opponents to participate in the upcoming elections and roll out their programmes to the public.

"It is Iran's greatest calamity that its leaders live in a virtual reality where they believe that anything they wish for would come true," Adeeb concluded.

Al Maliki will bring catastrophe on Iraq

When asked about the situation in their country, most Iraqis respond that things won't be good as long as prime minister Nouri Al Maliki continues to implement his discriminatory policies, wrote Jamil Al Ziyabi in the London-based newspaper, Al Hayat.

Since he acceded to power through a secret deal between Washington and Tehran, Mr Al Maliki has been working on settling personal records. Social justice is nonexistent and poverty and unemployment rates are soaring. In addition to all that, he seems to have given the country's rein of power to Iran.

"Mr Al Maliki has failed in internal politics and he is quite languid when it comes to international relationships. He single-handedly sabotaged his country's relationships with a number of regional countries, except Iran," said the writer.

Al Maliki, who finds himself the target of angry weekly protests throughout Iraq, has never worked towards decreasing unemployment rates or stamping out terrorism. His main aim has been to entrench sectarianism and contain the Sunnis and their leaders.

"Iraq cannot be ruled by one sect. The Maliki government is catastrophic for the country and the people. It is high time that the people start calling for its departure," the writer suggested.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem