Iraq gushes and Egypt falters
Arabic media review

Iraq gushes and Egypt falters

New year will be bad for Egypt, Arab columnist speculates

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

Shiite pilgrims march on their way to Karbala for Arbaeen in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Karim Kadim)
Shiite pilgrims march on their way to Karbala for Arbaeen in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Karim Kadim)

A verbal attack by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on Turkey leads the news in Arab dailies on Tuesday, with Maliki accusing Turkey of colluding with the Kurds to divide Iraq.

“Maliki: Turkey wants to divide Iraq through a ‘shameful deal’ with Kurdistan,” reads the headline of the Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, which quotes a Kurdish spokesman as saying that “there is no longer any hope of reaching an understanding with… Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.”

Muayyed Tayyib tells A-Sharq Al-Awsat that Maliki has no intention of forging a true partnership with the Kurds in Iraq.

The London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that anti-government demonstrations are continuing for the ninth consecutive day in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, morphing into mass rallies in the cities of Samaraa and Mosul.

Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports that the protesters in Iraq are calling for political reform, and some are even demanding an end to the regime. According to the report, Maliki agreed to some of the protesters demands.

The protesters claim that their sect is being marginalized by the predominantly Shiite coalition led by Maliki.

Columnist Hazem Saghiyah, writing in Al-Hayat, says that the protests in Iraq are part of a larger phenomenon which he dubs a “Sunni revolution” taking place not only in Iraq but also in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and in the Gaza Strip.

“The Sunni revolution dates back to the 1970s and 80s when Hafez Assad deepened his presidential control. Then the Iranian revolution prevailed and Hezbollah was created,” writes Saghiyah.

Hamas to Abbas: Forgo control of the West Bank

Hamas’s call on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to give up control of the Palestinian Authority in favor of the Islamic movement features prominently in Arab news on Tuesday.

Hamas’s call, explains A-Sharq Al-Awsat, comes in response to Abbas’s threat to hand over control of the PA to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Why hand over control of the PA to Netanyahu?” asks Hamas’s number 2 political official, Moussa Abu-Marzouq, on his Facebook page. “Aren’t relatives more worthy of power?”

Meanwhile, PA official daily Al-Ayyam quotes Abbas as saying that reconciliation talks with Hamas will resume shortly, stressing the importance of general elections as soon as possible and gently criticizing Hamas in the process.

“Hamas reached power through the voting boxes, so therefore it should allow elections to take place in order to safeguard Palestinian democratic life acclaimed for its transparency and integrity,” Abbas told the official Wafa news agency.

New law to regulate protests in Egypt

A new law regulating protests is to be debated soon in Egypt, raising fear among some opposition forces of a looming government crackdown on internal dissent.

According to Al-Jazeera, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil was the first to mention the new law, meant to direct policemen as to how to react to violent demonstrations. But soon after that, government spokesman Alaa’ Hadidi denied that the government was even discussing the matter.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s economic woes continue to preoccupy both domestic and Arab dailies, as the Egyptian pound continues to tank.

Independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that despite the devaluation of the pound and the rise in prices, President Morsi  continues to send calming messages to the public, denying any serious economic problems in Egypt.

But Al-Hayat reports that the foreign currency reserves in Egypt’s central bank have reached dangerous levels, forcing the bank to implement a new system of selling dollars to national banks.

Quoting Egypt’s national MENA news agency, London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports on its front page that a 22-year-old Egyptian man set himself ablaze on Monday in the city of Bani Sweif after failing to find a job.

“We need a miracle to be optimistic in the new year,” writes Al-Jazeera columnist Fahmi Huweidi regarding Egypt. “Current indicators suggest that we are facing a difficult and dangerous year, both for Egypt and the Arab world.

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