As Cairo braces Tuesday for gigantic pro- and anti-government protests, Arab media wonder whether a solution can be found to the crisis or whether both sides are headed for bloody confrontation.
“Egypt: The crisis turns into a bone-crushing battle,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, which reports that prospects for a political solution have vanished since the judges’ guild has refused to back down unless President Morsi completely annuls a constitutional declaration that grants him sweeping powers over the judiciary.
Morsi has in fact agreed to amend the declaration, clarifying that his immunity will be limited to “sovereign decisions” and will only be temporary, expiring when a new constitution is drafted and a new parliament elected.
But all that was not enough to assuage George Ishaq, a founding member of the liberal Dostour party, from calling on protesters to take to the streets until Morsi backs down completely and disperses the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports.
Morsi has in fact agreed to amend the declaration, clarifying that his immunity will be limited to ‘sovereign decisions’ and will only be temporary, expiring when a new constitution is drafted and a new parliament elected
In a separate report, Al-Jazeera writes that three Christian denominations in Alexandria, Catholic, Protestant and Anglican, have also come out against the presidential decree.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, as well as the Salafi Nour party, have however decided at the last moment to cancel a mass rally planned for Tuesday in a move independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm dubs “a surprising development.”
Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, calls the Brotherhood decision not to demonstrate “a very important decision which should be noticed,” as it symbolizes, in his opinion, a strategic decision on the part of Egypt’s Islamists to avoid bloodshed.
Atwan praises Morsi’s corrective measures, which also include a clarification that security men acquitted of killing anti-Mubarak protesters will only be retried if new evidence is brought against them, not irrespective of legal due process.
“Indeed, the constitutional declaration issued by President Morsi is the cause of this crisis… but all sides must cooperate to prevent any bloodshed among Egyptians and the deepening of the divide currently in place.”
“Egypt faces ‘Tuesday of defiance’ and sources in the presidency: Morsi will not back down,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat.
Editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed argues in an op-ed Tuesday that the battle waged in Egypt is in essence the struggle of the entire Arab world against tyranny.
“Egypt is fighting the battle of us all,” writes Homayed. “It is the battle of the state against those who want to destroy the meaning of the state. What is taking place in Egypt is not a correctional revolution, or mobilization against a new Pharaoh. It is an awakening of those fearful of the state’s destruction.”
Syrian opposition advances on capital
Syria has returned to capture the main headlines of Arab newspapers on Tuesday, as opposition forces advance on the capital and isolate the second-largest city of Aleppo.
Al-Hayat reports that the opposition has taken control of a strategic bridge over the Euphrates River leading to Damascus, effectively cutting off all supply routs to the city.
Fahed Al-Masry, the opposition spokesman, tells A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Free Syrian Army has captured anti-aircraft missiles from the military’s warehouses, enabling them, for the first time, to shoot down MiG fighter jets
Meanwhile, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that the opposition has “tightened its stranglehold on Damascus,” with one Free Syrian Army spokesman claiming that the opposition has taken control of the strategic missile and anti-aircraft bases around Damascus, bringing military government control over the capital city to an end.
Fahed Al-Masry, the opposition spokesman, tells A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Free Syrian Army has captured anti-aircraft missiles from the military’s warehouses, enabling them, for the first time, to shoot down MiG fighter jets.
The commander of the Free Syrian Army, Mohammed Hussein Haj Ali, tells the daily that as the opposition fighters in Syria try to unite, Damascus continues to be a “mixed picture” militarily. Haj Ali added that the Assad regime continues to entrench itself in the western coastal areas “with Iranian assistance.”