As Lebanese PM Saad Al-Hariri left Cairo after meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, more speculation arose on the role of Egypt in the Lebanese crisis, especially in light of the Arab League’s recent denouncement of Iranian interference in Arab affairs.
Egypt supports Al-Hariri, given historical relations with Lebanon and mutual trust, wrote Head of the Supreme Media Council Makram Mohamed Ahmed in his daily column in sata-run daily Al-Ahram. He argued that Egypt is convinced of growing Iranian power in Lebanon, cited by Al-Hariri.
In Al-Akhbar, senior journalist Galal Aref also asserted Egyptian support for the Lebanese people, arguing that the fight with Iran will be about Arabism and not religious sectarianism between Sunnis and Shiites.
“Iran…in Egypt” was the headline of an op-ed published Wednesday by Lebanese writer Ali Al-Riz in the privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm. The writer argued that Egypt is well-aware of Iran’s threat, and as such should be working on a comprehensive counter plan which unites Arab countries.
On the other hand, renowned Lebanese journalist and As-Safir newspaper founder Talal Salman wrote, in Al-Shorouk, that Saudi Arabia dared to summon and detain the prime minister of another country – Lebanon – due to the shrinking role of historically powerful Arab nations such Egypt, Syria, and Iraq in the face of the growing power of oil-rich countries.
It was France, not Lebanon or any Arab state, that “liberated” Al-Hariri, according to Salman, which is not promising for a better future for the Arabs.
Hassan Abu Taleb, senior analyst at Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, wrote in Al-Watan newspaper that the Arab League’s article labelling Hezbollah a terrorist organisation is not effective in solving the dilemma the party represents, as the accusation would imply the entire Lebanese government’s complicity.
In a different context, now-UAE-based former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq is back in the news, ahead of upcoming presidential elections and unconfirmed reports of his potential candidacy.
On the topic of Shafiq’s alleged candidacy, Mohamed Amin, chairman of the board of trustees of Al-Masry Al-Youm, wrote an op-ed titled “Incited by Satan”, in which he raises questions about the legal and political circumstances of Shafiq’s return, arguing that while he was a strong candidate in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in 2012, he would not stand fare as well in facing President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Dandarawy Al-Hawary, from the editorial team of Al-Youm Al-Sabea, described Shafiq as a fugitive presidential candidate and asserted that he intends to run in the 2018 elections. Al-Hawary claimed that Shafiq’s political history was “erased” because of his alliance with political figures he regularly writes against. “Is the presidency now open to unemployed fugitives and supporters of terrorist and anarchist organisations?” he asked.
Meanwhile in Al-Shorouk newspaper, Sudanese writer Deng Aling commented on the unification agreement signed in Cairo last week between South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), in which he noted the absence of leading opposition member Riek Machar.
Aling examined the role of Egypt, explaining its motives are to assume power in the south instead of Sudan, Ethiopia, and Israel over the Nile. “Egypt wants to support South Sudan’s government to ensure the latter doesn’t establish any projects that would affect water levels.”