Syria and Egypt are the two countries that top Arab news on Friday. In Syria the April 10 deadline for halting the fire between government and opposition approaches, and in Egypt the focus is the presidential candidacy of Khairat Shater and the apparent Islamist monopolization of the constitutional draft commission.
Egypt’s Shater submits his nomination papers
Khairat Shater submitted his presidential candidacy papers on Thursday, which, according to liberal daily Al-Hayat, is an opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood to display its force to the Egyptian public.
Saudi owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat focuses on the Brotherhood’s foreign relations efforts, leading with a report that seven senior members of the Freedom and Justice party have visited the United States “as part of a diplomatic effort to reassure Washington.” Both dailies feature a photo of Khairat Shater exiting the election commission after submitting his papers and being warmly welcomed by supporters.
Pan-Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, published in London, leads with Shater’s declaration that his first and last goal is to “implement Sharia.”
Referring to the Brotherhood’s surprising decision to field a candidate, A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Radwan Sayid claims that although the decision may make sense from a purely political point of view, it does not measure up to the Brotherhood’s professed piety and moral message.
“The Arab revolutions are political; their goal — to rebuild the political society and manage the public sphere … but the Brotherhood is ignoring the fact that it is in the era of a revolution with moral aspects, and that it bears a religious and moral message. They have been presenting themselves to the public and the world in this fashion for decades.”
Two exceptionally anti-Israeli editorials
Two extraordinarily harsh editorials dealing with Israel appear in Friday’s main papers. The first, in the Arab-nationalist daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, praises the missile attack from Sinai to Eilat Thursday. Titled “Sinai as a base of resistance against Israel,” the editorial basks in the Israeli fear of the threat emanating from the Egyptian peninsula.
“Sinai is no longer a quiet oasis where Israelis can travel calmly, enjoying its beautiful attractions and golden sands in peace and serenity. Sinai has become a shelter for anyone seeking to fight the occupation. It is no coincidence that the Egyptian gas pipeline that passes through it was bombed more than 13 times in less than a year,” writes the editorial.
For the editor, the attack on Eilat is a source of newfound pride for Egypt.
“The era of subordination is gone with no return. New Egypt is completely different than old Egypt; it has regained its honor and prestige and indeed the honor and prestige of all Arabs.”
Revisiting the comments of Katherine Ashton, Al-Hayat columnist Jihad Al-Khazin writes, “I do not only want to endorse the European official’s remarks, but to add that the terrorism in Toulouse would not have occurred were it not for Israel’s ongoing terrorism against Palestinians, the killing and destruction and theft of Jerusalem.”
In his editorial, titled “Israel is a criminal gang which the entire world hates,” Khazen adds that “Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization and Merah is a terrorist who undertook an act of terror, and the Israeli government is terrorist along with all other terrorists in our region and preceding them.”
Abbas declares upcoming cabinet reshuffle
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he would reshuffle the government of prime minister Salam Fayyad and replace certain ministers who have “tired,” PA mouthpiece Al-Ayyam reports Friday.
Abbas told the daily that three problems are stalling the possibility of conducting Presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories: the inability of the election committee to function in Gaza (due to the refusal of Hamas), the inability to conduct them in Jerusalem (due to Israel’s refusal), and legal matters pertaining to reconciling the PLO and Palestinian Authority election laws.
Bashar’s university professor lambastes his student’s changed personality
A-Sharq Al-Awsat runs an interview with university professor Mahmoud Kurdi who taught Syrian president Bashar Assad in university. According to Kurdi, Bashar used to be friendly and nice as a student but since becoming president has turned into a “ruthless beast.”
He delivered a testimony about the Syrian president’s personality at a conference of “the Friends of Syria,” held in Istanbul last Sunday.
Kurdi said he has been trying to deliver assistance to the worst affected Syrian cities over the past months.
“Transferring empty blood transfusion bags is considered by the regime to be a crime punishable by immediate execution or arrest followed by a field court,” Kurdi tells the daily.