Egypt celebrates and Syrian pilots flee
Arabic media review

Egypt celebrates and Syrian pilots flee

Unrest in Sudan spreads across the country and the Iraqi government shuts down 44 media outlets

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

Egyptian president-elect Mohammed Morsi (photo credit: AP Photo/Fredrik Persson)
Egyptian president-elect Mohammed Morsi (photo credit: AP Photo/Fredrik Persson)

Arab media is celebrating the victory of Mohammed Morsi as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. But alongside the jubilation, warnings for the future are beginning to sound, particularly concerning his precarious relationship with the military.

“Morsi is Egypt’s first civil president, under the supervision of the soldiers,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat.

“He will need to engage in a long battle with the ruling military council in order to secure his prerogatives, limited by the constitutional declaration issued last week, which consolidated the control of the generals at his expense,” reads the article.

Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, somewhat less ceremoniously, declares “Islamist candidate Mohammed Morsi is Egypt’s president.” The daily dubs Morsi’s victory speech “conciliatory,” highlighting the fact that he pledged to be “everybody’s president.” In a separate article, the daily notes Morsi’s commitment to respect “all international agreements signed by Egypt,” a clear reference to the peace agreement signed by Israel.

‘Those who think this is purely an Egyptian matter are not only wrong but negligent’

“Morsi is president by a small majority, and his oath is the first show of force with the military,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

“The Egyptian revolution achieved a new victory, even though the completion of its win has been postponed until further notice,” writes reporter Khaled Shami in Al-Quds Al-Arabi. “[The revolution] has made a president out of one the Pharaoh’s opponents.”

Egyptian dailies are almost identical in their top headlines Monday. “Mohammed Morsi is the first civil president of the Republic,” reads the headline of establishment daily Al-Ahram. “Morsi is Egypt’s first civil president,” reads the headline of Al-Masry Al-Youm, which reports Mubarak suffering a “health setback” upon learning of Morsi’s victory.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor-in-chief Abd Al-Bari Atwan gushes with emotion on Egypt’s historic Sunday.

“Few countries are able to write history, and Egypt is without doubt one of them. What took place yesterday is a historic moment and a new, unprecedented chapter in its history and the history of the region,” writes Atwan.

Atwan stresses Morsi’s wisdom, his modest upbringing and his high academic achievements in the United States. “He is the salt of the earth and belongs to the working people of Egypt,” writes Atwan.

‘The Egyptian revolution achieved a new victory, even though the completion of its win has been postponed until further notice’

But A-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed is more circumspect about Morsi’s victory. In an editorial titled “Egypt: Now, tighten your belts,” he writes that with Morsi’s victory Egypt has entered “a new, dangerous stage, the ramifications of which only God knows.”

“Those who are easily optimistic are wrong,” writes Homayed, “thinking that they are watching a film with a happy ending.”

NATO to meet Tuesday on downed Turkish fighter jet

Turkey will update NATO on the details of its fighter jet that was downed Friday by Syrian anti-aircraft fire, Arab media reports Monday. Meanwhile, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports that the chain of defections from the Syrian air force – considered the most loyal to President Bashar Assad – has already reached nine pilots who left for Jordan.

‘The regime fights fearlessly, killing indiscriminately and brutally. But it is losing every day’

Al-Hayat reports that the past week has been the bloodiest in Syria since the start of the uprising in March 2011, with 750 reported victims in the past seven days alone.

A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abd Al-Rahmad Rashed writes that the Syrian revolution has morphed from street demonstrations to a full-scale war.

“The regime fights fearlessly, killing indiscriminately and brutally. But it is losing every day, and there is no longer any doubt that the regime is wounded and its wounds are too grave to heal.”

Sudan announces austerity and faces widespread protests

The widening scope of economic demonstrations across Sudan is making major headlines in Arab media Monday.

According to Al-Hayat, the government has enacted austerity measures including stopping the subsidization of gasoline and raising taxes, despite the spread of unrest across the country. The daily reports that Sudanese security forces have carried out widespread arrest campaigns, especially among students. The police surrounded the University of Khartoum Sunday where protesters were encamped. The Sudanese opposition has promised a “hot summer” of demonstrations aimed at dethroning President Omar Bashir, the daily reports.

Iraqi PM cracks down on media

The Iraqi government of Nouri Maliki intends to stop the activity of 44 media outlets active in the country, including the BBC, Monte Carlo Radio and Voice of America, in what A-Sharq Al-Awsat dubs “a media war.”

An Iraqi press watchdog, the Journalism Freedom’s Observatory (JFO) tells the daily Monday that by shutting the media outlets, the government is “weakening freedom of expression instead of regulating broadcast services.”


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