Court talks back to Morsi and Algeria invites a Jewish singer
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Court talks back to Morsi and Algeria invites a Jewish singer

Minister denies Enrico Macias has been banned by Algiers

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

Egyptian lawmakers meet briefly in parliament Tuesday (photo credit: AP photo)
Egyptian lawmakers meet briefly in parliament Tuesday (photo credit: AP photo)

The political drama in Egypt continues Wednesday, as the High Constitutional Court declared illegal the decision of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to reconvene the parliament, which was dissolved by the court last month.

“Egypt: The constitutional court escalates and halts Morsi’s decision,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. Morsi is scheduled to leave Wednesday on his first diplomatic trip, to Saudi Arabia, amid rumors that the new government will be announced shortly, the daily reports.

London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that the Egyptian society of judges is threatening to stop hearing cases across the country if the new court decision is not accepted by President Morsi. The daily paper reports rumors that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will soon be disbanded, and a new defense minister nominated.

‘How long can restraint continue within the framework of peaceful mobilization, given the unsettled issues at hand? When will some occurrence spark clashes?’

But a legal adviser to Morsi said the constitutional court had no authority to discuss the matter, Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports. Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested the court decision at Tahrir Square Tuesday night, while others — apparently fewer — demonstrated in favor of the court near the presidential palace, Al-Jazeera reports.

The parliament convened for 10 minutes on Tuesday to discuss “ways of implementing the court decision,” house speaker Saad Katatni said, promising to safeguard the separation of powers. Establishment daily Al-Ahram reports that 347 deputies attended the parliament meeting while 161 stayed away, rejecting the presidential decision.

Al-Hayat columnist Abdallah Iskandar praises the Egyptians for keeping “cool heads” and not settling the deep political dispute violently. He wonders, however, how long this situation can continue.

‘If Morsi and the Brotherhood want to challenge SCAF and strip it of its authorities… they have the wrong address. Through this decision they have opened a battle against the judiciary and the high constitutional court’

“How long can restraint continue within the framework of peaceful mobilization, given the unsettled issues at hand? When will some occurrence spark clashes?” asks Iskandar Wednesday. “This possibility is not far-fetched and many Egyptian politicians have spoken about it.”

A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Othman Mirghani criticizes the discretion of President Morsi, who decided to wage his first battle against SCAF, rather than deal with Egypt’s more pressing economic matters.

“If Morsi and the Brotherhood want to challenge SCAF and strip it of its authorities… they have the wrong address. Through this decision they have opened a battle against the judiciary and the high constitutional court, sparking fears — once again — that they wish to dominate all powers and authorities.”

Syria and the battle of Damascus

Is Syria about to witness the decisive “battle of Damascus?” A-Sharq Al-Awsat seems to think so. The daily reports, quoting the opposition Free Syrian Army, that preparations are under way for the “final and crucial battle” for the Syrian capital, according to Free Syrian Army commander Riyad al-As’ad (no family relation).

As’ad tells the daily that his forces have already undertaken several operations in Damascus, “not far from the presidential palace.” He added that the moment of truth has now drawn “very close.”

‘Annan’s mission in Iran is impossible. He will return with false promises, but at least he will have tried. Annan believes that Iran can pressure Syria, but even if this were true; Iran will never deliver this card to Annan for free. Why would it?’

Another opposition leader, Samir Nashar, tells the daily that Syrian National Council (SNC) is demanding that Bashar Assad resign as a bare minimum for joining a transitional government. He notes that Russia’s position on the matter has begun to change, and it may be more receptive to the demand of Assad to step down.

Commenting on Kofi Annan’s visit to Iran — attempting to convince the regime to help solve the Syrian impasse — Al-Hayat columnist Randa Taqi A-Din claims that the UN envoy’s trip is doomed to fail.

“Annan’s mission in Iran is impossible. He will return with false promises, but at least he will have tried. Annan believes that Iran can pressure Syria, but even if this were true; Iran will never deliver this card to Annan for free. Why would it?” writes Taqi A-Din Wednesday.

Algerian minister invites Jewish singer to sing in his native country

Algeria’s minister of communications Nasser Mahl has invited French Jewish singer Enrico Macias to sing in his native country. Macias, who was born in the city of Constantine and holds an Israeli passport, was believed to have been banned from Algeria, an allegation the minister denied during a radio interview, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports.

Algerians are well-know for their aversion to anything Jewish. All the more so when it comes to a man whose son-in-law (sic) slaughtered Algerians in the war of independence’

Mahl denied that Algeria blocked the singer from coming, asserting that it was Macias himself who decided not to come. But an Algerian political analyst, Abd Al-Ali Razaqi, advised Macias against the trip in an interview with Al-Arabiya.

“Algerians are well-known for their aversion to anything Jewish. All the more so when it comes to a man whose son-in-law (sic) slaughtered Algerians in the war of independence.”

Razaqi said that the minister’s invitation to Macias was “an affront to Algerians on their fiftieth year of independence.”

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