Arab media divided on apparent Brotherhood victory
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Arabic media review

Arab media divided on apparent Brotherhood victory

A day after elections, Egyptians are confused; Saudi Arabia announces new crown prince and interior minister

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Muhammad Morsi celebrates his apparent victory in Cairo last Monday (photo credit: AP/Ahmed Gomaa)
Muhammad Morsi celebrates his apparent victory in Cairo last Monday (photo credit: AP/Ahmed Gomaa)

The Arab reporting on the results of Egypt’s presidential elections says a lot about the political preferences of the daily newspapers. Some report the victory of Muslim Brotherhood Muhammad Shafiq while others claim the race is still tied.

“Egypt: The constitutional coup is complete and the Brotherhood candidate announces his victory in the presidential race,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, which declares that the Muslim Brotherhood is on the verge of achieving the “biggest victory in its history.” The Brotherhood win is not complete however, the daily adds, as the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) released a new constitutional declaration “cementing its control over political life.”

For Atwan, Mubarak was not toppled by the young revolutionaries, but by a cynical group of army generals

The headline of Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a stark opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, is markedly different: “Egypt: Small gap between Morsi and Shafiq; both campaigns declare victory.” The daily reports that the fact the both candidates are claiming victory “confused and bewildered the Egyptian street, which does not know which candidate won.”

London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi‘s headline reads “The Brotherhood announce a ‘tough victory’ and say the military is ‘aborting us constitutionally’.” The daily highlights the fact that under the provisional constitution, the new president will not be able to intervene in military matters or declare war without the military’s consent.

“A fat-free Egyptian president,” Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor-in-chief Abd Al-Bari Atwan dubs him. For Atwan, Mubarak was not toppled by the young revolutionaries, but by a cynical group of army generals.

“The decisions of the Military Council and its conduct day after day prove that when it intervened to force President Hosni Mubarak from power, it was not for the sake of the revolution as many — and I among them — believed. No, the purpose was to take control of power in a soft coup that was planned out with extreme care, according to scenarios meant to gradually abort the revolution and retain Egypt as an obedient servant of America,” writes Atwan.

The headlines of Egyptian dailies also reflected the state of political confusion in the country.

“Morsi prepares to select his aides and Shafiq appeals the results,” reads the headline of establishment daily Al-Ahram. The article features a photo of a pro-Morsi demonstrator nestled on the shoulder of his friend holding up a sign with the portrait of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. In a separate article, the daily interviews a member of SCAF, General Muhammad Assar, who promises that the military will hand over power to the elected president with full authorities.

The headline of Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt’s leading independent daily, reads simply “Morsi on the doorstep of the presidential palace.”

Saudi Arabia’s ‘new faces’

The nomination of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz as crown prince and of Ahmad bin Abdulaziz as interior minister features high in the Arab press Tuesday.

In a profile of the new interior minister, Saudi-owned news site Elaph claims that the choice of Prince Ahmad was unsurprising, as he partnered the late Prince Nayef “in developing Saudi security” since the former took office in 1975.

According to the daily, Prince Muhammad participated in forming a “permanent counter-terrorism strategy,” including Saudi Arabia among the countries that “dry the springs of terrorist ideology.”

Prince Muhammad participated in forming a ‘permanent counter-terrorism strategy,’ including Saudi Arabia among the countries that ‘dry the springs of terrorist ideology.’

But a eulogy by Al-Hayat columnist Jameel Theyabi Tuesday indicates that there was also a controversial side to the late Prince Nayef.

“With the passing of Prince Nayef, Saudi Arabia lost a statesman who left an impression, whether or not one agrees with him on internal matters,” he writes.

Has the Syrian uprising engulfed Damascus?

According to A-Sharq Al-Awsat, “the Assad regime admits that the battles have approached his seat,” acknowledging that battles with opposition forces are raging a few kilometers away from the presidential palace.

Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera reports that 94 people were killed in Syria Monday, including 63 civilians killed by government forces.

Elaph reports that dozens of Moroccan youth have joined opposition Syrian fighters in combating the Assad regime. According to the report, based on “European security sources,” the Moroccans are jihadists similar to those who fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya in the past. Saeed Lakhal, an expert in jihadist movements, tells the daily that “there is no doubt that Al-Qaeda and organizations associated with it are active in sensitive areas, attempting to penetrate countries and establish rear bases to support jihad in them.”

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