Arab media on Wednesday lead with stories about the Egyptian security establishment deciding to intervene in the political crisis between President Mohammed Morsi and the opposition.
“Egypt: The army intercedes upon Morsi’s request, and political forces to gather,” reads the headline of the Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, which features a photo of pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators in Cairo.
Defense Minister Abdul Fattah Sisi told Egyptian television that today’s meeting between government and opposition will not discuss political issues or the controversial debate on the country’s new constitution scheduled for Saturday, but is merely intended to “gather Egyptians together.”
“Sisi takes the initiative,” reads the headline of liberal Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. ‘Many [Egyptians] … call on Morsi to discard the preacher’s cloak and wear the garb of president, from whom the people expect decisions concerning them and not poetry about heaven and hell,’ reads the article.
The London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that the referendum will begin today for Egyptians living abroad and will take place inside Egypt in two stages — with half of Egypt’s provinces voting this Saturday and half voting the next — following the government’s failure to attain a sufficient number of judges to oversee the process. “Insisting on holding a referendum on the constitution despite the widespread protests only pours more oil on the fire of conflict and confrontation in Egypt, at a time when it is in dire need of stability,” writes A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Othman Mirghani.
Meanwhile, opposition protests continued outside the presidential palace Tuesday, “against high prices and the referendum.” Thousands of protesters broke through the cement barriers surrounding the palace and encircled it, Al-Hayat reports.
Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, is typically alarmist as he puts the blame for the Egyptian crisis on both sides.
“Throughout its modern history, Egypt has never experienced a state of chaos and divide as it is experiencing today,” writes Atwan. “The country is going through civil strife. Listening to the slogans and threats sounded by the leaders of the demonstrations on both sides was understanding that the bloody clash is approaching.”
Atwan claims that the irresponsible behavior of leaders on both sides is paving the way for the military to take control over Egypt.
“This elite, in its failure, has corrupted Egyptian political life, aborted the nascent democracy and reasserted the saying that Arab nations are incapable and unworthy of democratic rule and need lessons and teachers to educate it,” writes Atwan.
Meanwhile, Saudi news website Elaph analyzes the 57 speeches delivered by President Morsi since taking office. According to the daily, Morsi’s public speaking style is long-winded, preachy, and full of improvisation.
“Many [Egyptians]… call on Morsi to discard his preacher’s cloak and wear the garb of president, from whom the people expect decisions concerning them and not poetry about heaven and hell,” reads the article.
“Every time he delivers a speech, he loses a few of his supporters,” claims the article, quoting Cairo University professor Gamal Abdul Aziz who claims that Morsi is beginning to dress and sound more and more like his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
The US recognizes Syria’s opposition coalition
America’s recognition of Syria’s new opposition coalition features prominently in Arab dailies Wednesday.
Al-Hayat reports that Washington is going to announce its support for the Syrian coalition during a meeting Wednesday of the Friends of Syria in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.
An American official tells the daily that while the US administration will not arm the opposition, it does not rule out that option in the future.
Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera quotes US President Barack Obama telling ABC that the coalition represents enough domestic groups for it to be considered a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
But one opposition group, Al-Nusra front, was placed on the US terrorism list for its suspected link to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The lead editorial in Al-Quds Al-Arabi criticizes that decision.
“The Al-Nusra front is the most powerful and ruthless force in opposing the Syrian regime. News reports show that its fighters stand behind most of the opposition’s military achievements,” writes the editor.
“Placing it on the terrorism list will divide the Syrian opposition into a group that stands with America and a group that stands against it; a terrorist group and a non-terrorist group. The American decision will also embarrass Gulf states as well as Turkey who helped in arming this front.”