Morsi tries to calm a troubled Egypt
Arabic media review

Morsi tries to calm a troubled Egypt

Russian intransigence continues to block political prospects in Syria

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

Then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi signs into law the country's Islamist-backed constitution in December 2012. (photo credit: AP/Egyptian Presidency)
Then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi signs into law the country's Islamist-backed constitution in December 2012. (photo credit: AP/Egyptian Presidency)

Arab media focus on Sunday on a speech by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in which he attempted to dispel fears of an economic crash following the devaluation of Egypt’s currency.

“Morsi: ‘Egypt will not go bankrupt’ and the constitution guarantees equality,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, juxtaposing photos of Morsi addressing Egypt’s newly convened upper house of parliament on Saturday and of a woman protesting across the parliament building as a row of armed policemen block her way.

Writing on the Egyptian film festival which opens in Cairo this week, the daily’s writer Jamal Al-Qasas comments on Egypt’s troubled intellectual arena, which has not been spared by the political turbulence in the country.

“Egypt’s cultural scene… faces opposition by political establishments and forces that wish to ‘assassinate’ the revolution and freedom of expression under the guise of distorted and confused political legitimacy that sanctifies despotism.”

Meanwhile, liberal Egyptian playwright Ali Salem muses in a Sunday editorial on his discomfort with the incessant attacks by Egyptian liberals on the Muslim Brotherhood government.

“I do not feel pleased with the fact that our collective effort is sharp, direct and continuous attacks on the political leadership of Egypt. Nor do I feel comfortable with the idea of stopping that. There is a third way we much continue to seek out.”

“When a patient’s fever reaches the level of hallucination, the doctor’s primary concern is lowering his temperature by all means at his disposal… that is our situation at the moment. We are going through an extremely dangerous stage of hallucination which has caused us to besiege the judges and prosecutors and prevent them from carrying out their duties. If we allow the temperature of the patient — who is us — to rise further even by one degree, this hallucination will become a horror which neither we nor the region needs.”

Al-Hayat, a London-based daily, focuses on other elements of Morsi’s speech.

“Morsi promises ‘fair’ elections and the opposition insists on an ’emergency’ government,” reads the daily’s headline. The daily reports that Morsi called on the opposition’s National Salvation Front to dialogue surrounding a new election law ahead of a March vote, but the opposition refused the call.

“Morsi noticeably sent calming messages to the Copts, who are fearful of further marginalization,” reads the article.

Liberal Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm opens its coverage of Morsi’s speech with the president’s promise to combat poverty in Egypt. Morsi also highlighted a sharp increase in incoming tourism, with 4 million tourists entering the country over the past 6 months; double the number of entries for the same period last year.

“Economics experts considered the president’s assertion that there is no financial crisis ‘natural and traditional,’ meant to reassure Egyptians about the current economic state and ignore negative economic indicators,” reads the article in Al-Masry Al-Youm.

From bad to worse in Syria

The Syrian civilian death toll reached a one-day record high of 364 on Saturday, causing Al-Hayat to bitterly note that a premonition by international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi of a “hellish” scenario is now materializing.

The daily reports 227 fatalities in a “massacre” in the central-Syrian city of Homs and an additional 49 in Damascus.

An unnamed Arab diplomat in Moscow tells Al-Hayat that a meeting held Saturday between Brahimi and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has failed to produce a tangible roadmap for political progress in Syria, “effectively burying” any prospect of a joint Russian-American drive to move forward with diplomacy.

In a joint press conference following the meeting, Lavrov said that a political solution is still possible, and Brahimi noted that the alternative is “hell.”

Al-Hayat columnist Khaled Dakhil, a Saudi intellectual, notes that Bashar Assad continues to constitute the primary obstacle before a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis.

“The international efforts to solve the Syrian crisis have not succeeded, but they have not officially failed,” narrates the reporter of Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera, accompanying footage of Brahimi and Lavrov walking up a flight of stairs in Moscow.

“The primary and most dangerous obstacle before such a solution is the Syrian regime itself. It does not believe in political solutions from within, and especially with regards to the issue of [a transitional] government. To begin with, the regime was never created to deal with such solutions,” writes Dakhil.

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