CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak’s comments regarding Shiite Muslims in Iraq sparked region-wide criticism, and independent newspapers around the region have been following up on the issue. A high-profile Shiite Saudi writer, Fouad Ibrahim, told the Associated Press that the president’s remarks are the engine which drives the whole region towards civil war.
Definitely Iran has influence on Shiites. Shiites are 65 percent of the Iraqis. Most of the Shiites are loyal to Iran, and not to the countries they are living in, Mubarak had told a broadcast show in Al-Arabiya television. “Civil war has almost started among Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and those who are coming from Asia. I don t know how Iraq will be brought together. At this moment, Iraq is almost close to destruction.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Mubarak said that “a U.S. withdrawal would hurt the situation and increase the possibility of terrorism beyond Iraq.
He was also quoted as saying that any troop withdrawal would be a blow. The war would be inflamed among Iraqis. It would become a theater for a dreadful civil war and then the terrorist operation will be escalated – not only in Iraq.
Following the interview, presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad attempted to stem the tide of criticism over the remarks. The spokesman said that Mubarak only meant to show his extreme concern for the continuing deterioration of the situation in Iraq.
The Egyptian Al-Wafd, an opposition newspaper, quoted Shiite leaders in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq condemning Mubarak’s comments. A top Iranian leader said that Iran’s influence on the Shiite of Iraq is more spiritual than political, and that they always aim to create harmony and understanding between different religious sects in the war-torn country.
According to the Financial Times (FT), several Iraqi leaders “reacted angrily following the president’s claims in a joint press conference. Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister, told FT that “the Shiite community had been ‘infuriated’ by the comments and that he had demanded an explanation from the Egyptian foreign ministry. ‘There has to be damage limitation,’ he said. Moreover, the Iraqi prime minister rejected claims of a civil war, saying that Iraqis would never resort to civil wars to solve their disputes and that what the country is passing through is a momentary tension and clashes that are not expected to lead into a civil war.
On another level, Reuters reports that the Egyptian authorities had stopped detained former Al-Ghad chairman Ayman Nour from writing and sending articles to his party’s newspaper. According to Reuters, Nour’s wife and party spokesman Gamilla Ismail said that “the prison authorities said he is not allowed to send written papers outside the prison anymore and that “there is a decision to stop him from writing.
This incident is not a first since Ismail was earlier denied visitation rights. In one of her regular visits, Ismail was barred from prison and her requests to see Nour and receive his written work was denied. Following this incident, Nour’s supporters had come to the Tora Mazraa prison, where he is carrying out his sentence, and conducted sat-in in protest.
“They want to bar him for the public life, Ismail had told The Daily Star Egypt. “They want him to be forgotten.
Nour, who was one of Mubarak’s principal contestants in last year’s presidential elections, was indicted of forgery last December and was given a five-year prison sentence.
Also in Egypt, after an archeological team made a stunning discovery in Fayyoum around four days ago, Farouk Hosni said that the series of structures discovered include “administrative buildings, granaries and residences believed to have belonged to priests of the temple, and was dedicated to Renenutet, the goddess of harvest, as well as the crocodile-god Sobk and falcon-deity Horus, Middle East Times reported.
This find can be considered one of the most important discoveries in Fayyoum, as it unveiled remnants of all architectural elements making up the Medinet Madi temple, Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, was quoted as saying. This discovery is expected to give clues of the ancient temple’s secrets.