Arab writers opining on Middle East issues, focus from Egypt being on the right trajectory to the danger of Syria fragmenting into autonomous regions and a hoping for a return of US warm relations with the Gulf
LOOKING FORWARD TO A BRIGHT FUTURE
By Karam Gabr
Akhbar el-Yom, Egypt, June 2
In May 2015, a group of 159 pro-Muslim Brotherhood clerics from across the Arab and Muslim world published the “Al-Kinana Call”, in which they accused the Egyptian government of being “criminal and murderous” and declared religious war on the Egyptian people. The signatories issued religious verdicts permitting the killing of innocent Egyptian civilians in the name of their goal of restoring Mohammed Morsi back to the presidency. This criminal gang was no different from the thugs of ISIS, the Houthis, and al-Qaida. They came from countries such as Pakistan, Libya, and Afghanistan – all of which have been ravaged by religious wars. These thugs wanted the fate of Egyptian women to be just like the fate of women found in their own failed societies. They were consumed by jealousy and bitterness after witnessing the bustling streets of Cairo come back to life, unlike their own destroyed capitals that have been wrecked by their wars.
Thankfully, the Egyptian army stood guard and protected our country against these attacks. Its men didn’t fragment or crumble. Indeed, had it not been for the steadfastness of our great army, these mercenaries would have occupied Egypt’s palaces and mosques, plundered its bounties, and subjugated its women. But Egypt defied them and shattered their dreams of forming a caliphate. This month, June, marks the nine-year anniversary of the demonstrations that brought down Morsi’s regime. It was a day in which Egypt entered a new age; one in which a dark black cloud was lifted from upon us. Bleak memories still haunt all of us: the use of force against protestors, our squares being occupied by thugs, the violence and bloodshed in our streets. Yet we, the Egyptian people, prevailed.
We chose to look to the future. We managed to keep those evil forces away from our country and move forward as one.
– Karam Gabr
SYRIA’S PROPOSED SAFE ZONE
By Riad Naasan Agha
Al-Itihad, UAE, June 1
The announcement of the establishment of a safe zone in Syria – to which several million displaced Syrians will return – raises concerns and mixed feelings among Syrians.
They urgently need a safe territory to return to, after years of movement in search of safety. If such a safe zone is provided to them within their homeland, many of them will return to Syria without hesitation. However, there is genuine concern that this safe area will turn into a small statelet that motivates others to establish autonomous regions – thereby leading to further geographical, sectarian and ethnic division in Syria.
The truth is that people have few hopes for a political resolution to the Syrian crisis following 11 years of suffering. Millions of Syrian refugees are likely to remain scattered around the world, living in tents and makeshift dwellings. A generation of hundreds of thousands of Syrian children and adolescents has grown up without schooling. Most of them have no future. While the fears of the refugees who are expected to return are centered around the safety mechanisms that would be implemented in order to protect them and provide them with basic necessities, international consensus has still not been reached. The United States and the European Union must be the ultimate guarantors for this. It’s also worth remembering that this safe zone is only a local and temporary solution, designed primarily for Syrian refugees located in Turkey. Our fathers and grandfathers lived through an era in which Syria was divided under the French Mandate. Their silver lining was the fact that they were all united as one against a foreign enemy – an occupier – from whom they sought independence. They worked to build a unified country where all segments of society can peacefully coexist. However, the current situation differs dramatically. The future of Syria seems more dangerous than its present. Syrian society is deeply divided and fractured. Sadly, no one knows what the future will bring for this war-torn country.
– Riad Naasan Agha
THE POSSIBILITY OF A RETURN TO WARMTH IN US-GULG RELATIONS
By Rami Caliph Al-Ali
Okaz, Saudi Arabia, June 10
There has been increasing talk in the American capital about the necessity of returning warmth to US-Gulf relations, especially with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the loudest and clearest voice came from a paper presented to the Council on Foreign Relations, prepared by Steven Cook, a researcher specializing in international relations, and Martin Indyk, a former diplomat who worked in the Middle East. As of the writing of these lines, this paper has not been published but was referred to by Fareed Zakaria in an article published in The Washington Post. Regardless of the details of the Cook-Indyk paper, there is consensus among observers of Middle East politics that the policy pursued by the Biden Administration toward the Gulf has undermined American interests. The Gulf, with Saudi Arabia at its heart, is the key to the Middle East. If you try to marginalize it, you will practically marginalize your role and presence in the region, and this is what happened with the United States. As for Riyadh, we realize that relations with Washington were and still are strategic when they are based on clear foundations, which are those agreed upon by the founding King Abdulaziz Al-Saud with President Franklin Roosevelt. The relations were based on security, defense, and economic cooperation with full respect for the kingdom’s sovereignty and its location in the heart of the Islamic world, and noninterference in its internal affairs. But if Washington wants to turn against these foundations and play a paternalistic role vis-à-vis the kingdom, then it must expect that Riyadh will search for other allies. Therefore, it is a welcome change that Washington is reconsidering its stance. This will require a frank and honest dialogue between Washington and Riyadh, which will focus on two things.
The first aspect is respecting the sovereignty of Gulf states and avoiding arrogant and patronizing discourse toward its leaders. The second aspect, which is no less important, is finding a common vision surrounding the region’s most burning issues, starting with the Iranian nuclear file and the need to involve the countries of the region in the talks with Iran.
–Rami Caliph Al-Ali
*(translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)
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