Op-ed review: Lebanon, Saudi Arabia stir doubts on Middle East future

Amira El-Fekki
5 Min Read

Recent developments regarding the resignation of Lebanese PM Saad El-Hariri while in Riyadh, as well as the Saudi leadership’s detention of dozens of top figures in a corruption probe continued to top Middle East affairs press coverage on Monday.

“Confrontation or escape?” wrote Al-Ahram journalist Maher Maqlad about El-Hariri’s resignation.

Maqlad, who worked as chief of the Al-Ahram bureau in Lebanon for four years and wrote a book published in 2006 titled “Leban fetnet el kosour”, argued that the prime minister’s resignation announcement made from Riyadh reflected a troubled scene and fear of assassination.

Describing the resignation as stunning to President Michel Aoun, Maqlad said that between “confrontation from the outside” to reasons cited as Iranian interference and Hezbollah’s control in Lebanon on one hand, and “elopement” speculations, El-Hariri’s last meeting in Beirut a day earlier was with the Iranian presidential counselor on international affairs, which might have revealed some intentions that pushed El-Hariri to leave the country.

Journalist Galal Aref, who headed the former Supreme Press Council, also mentioned the meeting in his piece published by state-owned daily Al-Akhbar, arguing that El-Hariri’s resignation is an announcement of the failure to keep Lebanon out of the storm sweeping the region.

“Lebanon is now at the heart of the storm, after 15 years of failed American policies and conspiracies against the Arabs since the invasion of Iraq and then the destruction of Syria and Libya, the targeting of Yemen and now Lebanon,” Aref stated.

Meanwhile, Emad El-Sin Hussein, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper, used the word “tsunami” while writing about Saudi Arabia. Hussein justifies the expression by stating that the recent developments didn’t happen in closed circles and shove what was viewed as constants.

According to him, the exclusion of most of King Abdullah’s men and the detention of a large political and financial power mean that King Salman bin Abdulaziz has secured the corroboration of vast sectors of non-elite Saudis who believe their poverty is caused by corruption within the royal family and business tycoons. “This doesn’t mean the old current has retreated yet,” he wrote.

On a different note, two political analysts known to have a louder critical voice of the regime addressed challenges standing in the way of the “modern civil state” Egypt is trying to become. First, writer Abdullah Al-Sinawi wrote about “contradictions” between civil and security issues.

In his op-ed in Al-Shorouk, and against the backdrop of the recent Al-Wahat shootout, he made a connection between the policies adopted by the state to face terrorism and the tightened grip on NGOs on grounds of limiting terrorism funding, yet cracking down on civil society, arguing that this weakens the war on terrorism.

Second, MP Emad Gad’s piece published in the private Al-Watan newspaper said that terrorist groups fed on extremist ideologies that oppose the modern state concept, but that state institutions aren’t doing enough to stop radical narratives against intellectuals, women, and Christians.

Another local issue that was subject of some opinion pieces on Monday was the assault of a female security guard in Fayoum University by a member of the parliament. In a video widely circulated last week, the MP is shown slapping the woman on the face and hitting her.

Politician Amr El-Shobaky argued in his column in the private Al-Masry Al-Youm that the incident reflects a wider problem, “called absence of law and justice.” He pointed out that some sort of customary reconciliation was held by the university president, where the victim was forced into accepting to reconcile, because some people are above the law and face no real accountability.

A young pro-state journalist and member of the presidential pardon committee used a similar approach in her piece for Al-Watan, highlighting the notion of social gaps between the attacker and the assaulter.

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Journalist in DNE's politics section, focusing on human rights, laws and legislations, press freedom, among other local political issues.
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