Arabic media review

‘Kerry is a master of self-deception’

Negotiators will head to Washington for no other reason than to please the US secretary of state, claims Palestinian columnist

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

In this image released by the Egyptian presidency, Egyptian President Adly Mansour, right, greets Jordan's King Abdullah II on his arrival to the presidential palace, Saturday, July 20, 2013 (photo credit: AP)
In this image released by the Egyptian presidency, Egyptian President Adly Mansour, right, greets Jordan's King Abdullah II on his arrival to the presidential palace, Saturday, July 20, 2013 (photo credit: AP)

Israel may be in a frenzy over the prospects of new peace talks, but political unrest in Egypt during Jordanian King Abdullah’s visit leads the news in Arab media Sunday.

“The killing of women at a rally in support of Morsi embarrases the government and the Brotherhood,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, leading with the brief visit of Jordan’s King Abdullah to Egypt on Saturday, the first leader to do so since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi earlier this month.

Jordan’s ambassador to Egypt, Bishr Khasawneh, told the daily that despite the fact that the king’s visit lasted only two hours, it dealt with the central issues concerning the two countries, including the gas pipeline (often targeted in Sinai) and commercial ties. The king, it would seem, is trying to reestablish Jordan’s ties with Egypt and put aside the bad blood which characterized the relationship during the Morsi days.

Three women were killed in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura in clashes with police Friday, and independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm‘s headline reads “The government promises to apprehend the killers of the women in Mansoura.” The daily displays an image of the funeral of one of the women.

Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat leads with a committee established by President Adly Mansour to draft Egypt’s new constitution. According to the daily, the committee will include 10 members: six judges and four law professors.

Judge Ali Awadh, a constitutional adviser to the president, said that the new committee will be tasked with amending all the “controversial” articles of the 2012 constitution.

Two A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnists lambaste the hostile Turkish comments regarding Egypt on Sunday. Turkish officials such as Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have referred to the change of government in Egypt as a “military coup” which they called “disappointing” and refused to cooperate with the new Egyptian government.

“These comments seem hostile and provocative toward the new political leadership in Egypt and toward most of the Egyptian people,” writes Abdullah Al-Oteiby. He analyzes Turkey’s hostility toward the new Egyptian government in light of the Turkish government’s own tenuous relationship with the military establishment.

Tareq Homayed, meanwhile, accuses Iran of political opportunism by turning against the Muslim Brotherhood and supporting the coup, only to gain a few points with new Egyptian government at Turkey’s expense.

“From one moment to the next, the Iranians have begun demanding that the will of the Egyptian people be respected, advising the Turks not to stand by Morsi and the Brotherhood,” writes Homayed. “The Iranian criticism of the Brotherhood didn’t stop there. The imam of Tehran’s Friday services, Ahmad Jannati, accused the Brotherhood of providing aid to Israel.” 

“What does all of this mean? Quite simply, Tehran is now forsaking the Brotherhood, taking advantage of the Turkish recklessness toward Egypt. Tehran wants to achieve a political breakthrough it was unable to achieve throughout a year of Brotherhood rule, despite Ahmadinejad’s visit to Cairo.” 

What caused Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks?

Reporting on the upcoming renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Arab media speculates on the moves behind the scenes.

Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya quotes “knowledgeable sources” saying that Israel agreed to release 350 Palestinian prisoners in stages over the coming months.

Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera, in a more austere tone, reports that Israel continues to “cling” to the settlements “despite Kerry’s efforts” to impose a building freeze.

Independent Palestinian daily Al-Quds reports that vagueness surrounding the assurances provided by John Kerry to the Palestinians regarding Israel’s willingness to accept the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations and freeze settlement building has caused “significant confusion and criticism in various Palestinian circles, including those very close to President Mahmoud Abbas.”

“Kerry has succeeded in deceiving himself,” writes columnist Hani Habib in a rather pessimistic op-ed in establishment daily Al-Ayyam Sunday.

“The new trait we discovered in Kerry during his sixth visit … is this man’s astounding capability for deception, yes deception. We do not mean, in this regard, only his deception of others but first and foremost self-deception. This man imagines he has managed to assemble Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and achieved his goal in pushing them to resume direct negotiations that have been stalled for more than three years.”

“These negotiations to take place in Washington are nothing but a way of pleasing John Kerry and helping him convince himself that he has brought the two sides together. It’s a form of gratitude.”

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