Eid in Cairo: Showdown looms
Arabic media review

Eid in Cairo: Showdown looms

Egypt’s government prepares to disperse Morsi supporters after the holiday

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

An Egyptian Muslim child rides on the back of a motorbike during a rally supporting former President Mohammed Morsi in Assiut, Upper Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Manu Brabo)
An Egyptian Muslim child rides on the back of a motorbike during a rally supporting former President Mohammed Morsi in Assiut, Upper Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Manu Brabo)

An imminent showdown between Egypt’s new government and Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators features high in Arab newspapers on Thursday, as the Islamist movement reaches its moment of truth in relations with the state.

“Egypt mourns international mediation, and prepares for confrontation,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring the photo of a pro-Morsi demonstrator holding up cookies shaped to read “I love Morsi.”

“Yesterday Cairo turned the page on international mediation which took place in order to resolve the political crisis, announcing its failure, a fact that will lead to confrontation between the provisional regime and the Muslim Brotherhood,” reads the article.

“Egypt: The countdown begins, and the Brotherhood fortifies its sit-in,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

“The moment of truth in the Egyptian crisis, which occupied world attention for over a month, is approaching,” announces the article in a dramatic tone. “It may be crucial for the future of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian state, and perhaps the region as a whole.”

Meanwhile, the pro-Brotherhood Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports “the largest” rally of Morsi supporters in Rabiah Al-Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo Thursday, the first day of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.  

Al-Jazeera’s reporter at Rabiah Al-Adawiya reported a festive atmosphere at the square, with demonstrators exchanging cakes, playing with firecrackers and singing the national anthem. The number of demonstrators is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

But Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat highlights the uglier side of the Islamist protests, reporting one fatality and dozens of injured in clashes between Brotherhood protesters and security across Egypt, amid “fears of Islamist escalation against Christians and churches, especially in Upper Egypt cities.”

“No to the security solution,” reads the headline of an editorial in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, expressing fear that the failure of diplomacy will lead Egypt to “a bloodbath.”

“Final decision: Dispersing the sit-in after the holiday,” reads anti-Brotherhood daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, reporting that government ministers expect the confrontation with “the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorists” to carry on for some time “especially since it is an 85-year-old international organization which spent a year in power.”

Commenting on the inconsistency of American diplomatic statements on the Egyptian coup (or revolution?), with US Secretary of State John Kerry praising the military and senator John McCain blasting it, US Al-Hayat columnist Zoheir Quseibati wonders what kind of ally the US sees in Egypt.

“What has taken place over the past three days … raises many question marks regarding what the Americans want from a state still considered an ally, as Washington considers [Egypt] a cornerstone of its regional security strategy. One may wonder about the [American] loss of a homogeneous vision in dealing with the largest ‘Arab Spring’ state. The larger fear remains as to what will become of the dead end with the Brotherhood,” writes Quseibati.

What were four Israeli soldiers doing in southern Lebanon?

The mysterious injury of four Israeli soldiers in an explosion in southern Lebanon Wednesday, after they reportedly went 400 meters into Lebanese territory, features high in Arab dailies, as the political crisis in the country deepens.

Druze politician Walid Jumblatt tells A-Sharq Al-Awsat that he would prefer a government of technocrats over a “political” government, thereby preferring the position of the pro-Western March 14 Coalition over that of Hezbollah’s March 8 Coalition.

Security sources in Lebanon tell Al-Hayat that the explosion in the south was caused by a landmine likely detonated from afar using advanced technology, after the soldiers entered the area “more than once.”

Hezbollah website Al-Manar, for its part, delivers an account of the Israeli incursion with no claim of responsibility. The site features two photos of Lebanese soldiers scouring the area where the explosion took place, and one of a small bloodstain on the pavement.

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