Sarah El Sirgany
7 Min Read

Arab inaction and increase in gas prices take the lead

CAIRO: Arab inaction toward the Lebanese crisis, an increase in local gas prices and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif s statements dominated editorials throughout the week.

Some writers like Fahmy Howeidy in Al Ahram surveyed the crisis in general, commending Hezbollah and criticizing the American-sponsored Israeli policies in the regions.

Howeidy said the American government has been plotting against Hamas and Hezbollah. This would help its objectives, he continued, to complete the series of subduing the Arab world and compensating for its failure in Iraq.

Other writers focused on the concept of submissive Arabs. “Anyone who follows the Arab press, especially those affiliated with leaders, during the past couple of days, would laugh their heart out, wrote Alaa Al Arieby in Al-Wafd, Because they will find front page news indicating that the Arab leaders after two weeks of massacres in Lebanon have woken up, called each other and met each other.

Sarcastically, he added that the reader would think that these meetings and phone calls would end in a conclusive stance that forces Israel to retreat or that they would agree on a unified Arab stance against the Zionist enemy or who supports it.

In Al-Masry Al-Youm, Hassanein Koroum was critical of the official statement following President Hosni Mubarak s meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah and the Saudi statement. Both avoided accusing the Israeli aggressors and laid the blame on Hezbollah.

It s as if the two statements were issued to support Israel and encourage it to continue its aggression, Koroum added. Although the three countries later altered their approach to condemn the aggression, Koroum explained that their statements failed to use strong words to attack U.S. support for Israel or the Israeli aggression.

In Al-Wafd, Mohamed Mostafa El Shardy wrote that it was strange how Arab leaders disagree while the Arab populace has a united stance towards the events.

Koroum was also critical of the National Democratic Party for not issuing a statement condemning the aggression, saying this poses the question of: What are the real [affiliations] of the party? Is it with the Israeli administration or with the Egyptian population?

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif s statement that Egypt doesn t have the capabilities to go to war with Israel stirred up criticism. Mohamed Salah wrote in Al-Masry Al-Youm that Nazif couldn t have stopped at saying that Egypt doesn t want a war with Israel, instead of increasing the frustration of the Egyptian public. Why did he venture into politics and war and peace in the first place?

Do we need a national Arab project to restore Arab dignity or do we (as all the Arabs) need a leader to achieve the nations dreams? said Abbas El Tarabeily. In an article comparing the present to Gamal Abdel Nasser’s era, El Tarabeily wondered, Where are you Abdel Nasser? describing his era as great.

Mohamed Ragheb, in Al-Wafd, was critical of Prime Minister Nazif s cynical statements targeting the Egyptian public. Ragheb said that Nazif could have talked about government failures instead of insulting the public through his choice of words: The people want to be breastfed, want the government to educate them, get them apartments, and The people want from dad (the state) and mom (the government) to get them every thing.

But Rose Al-Yousef editor Karam Gabr was quick to defend Nazif, saying that his statements were taken out of context. He said, however, that Nazif should be careful with his statements and shouldn t speak in haste.

Due to the celebrations this week of both the 1952 revolution and the 1956 decision to nationalize the Suez Canal, Nasser was mentioned often in editorials. Due to the name resemblance to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, comparisons were made between the two. Some saw it as a just and necessary comparison, with the Nasserist Party newspaper Al-Araby endorsing the comparison, while others saw it as improper.

I came across strange comparisons between Nasrallah and the late president Gamal Abdel Nasser, wrote Abdullah Kamal in Rose Al-Yousef. Saying that Abdel Nasser was a state president while Nasrallah is a party leader, Kamal wrote that such a comparison isn t only an insult to Nasser but to all Egyptians as well.

But away from the regional conflict, the increase of gas prices and toll station fares has also stirred up criticism.

In Al-Wafd, Osama Heikal enquired about the services that the Ministry of Transportation has offered in exchange for the sudden 100 percent increase in toll station fares, a problem for low-income families who can barely afford a vacation. He said the roads are still the same, with no services, and the emergency numbers don t work and, if they do, help comes an hour later, recommending that the driver order a private tow truck.

Heikal was also critical of the increase in gas prices, saying that throughout Mubarak’s rule there has been a 1,000 percent increase in prices. He said this would lead to another increase in the price of all other commodities.

He noted that the government had announced months earlier that there wouldn’t be an increase in gas prices, thus the increase was unexpected by Egyptians, who are occupied by the Lebanese plight or vacationing at the beach. He said this was the perfect time for the government to increase the prices so no one would react. Congrats to the government for its success in the price increase conspiracy, Heikal concluded.

For Salah Montasser, this couldn t have been a worse time to raise prices from a consumer s point of view. In Al Ahram, he said the long overdue decision could have waited a few more months in consideration of citizens already frustrated with events in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

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