CAIRO: Headlines of national newspapers are centering on President Hosni Mubarak’s meetings with the princes of Qatar and Kuwait, along with his talks with several Arab heads, including Syrian diplomats. The leaders convened for an emergency meeting in Egypt, discussed aid to Lebanon and reconstruction, as well as “Arab unity.
The headlines feature reassurances of “sacred and brotherly relations between Egypt and Syria, and mutual respect between Egypt and other Arab nations.
Such “reassurances are coupled with Syrian Communication Minister Mohsen Bilal’s statements that “any badmouthing of Egypt’s president or people is not even possible. Al-Akhbar newspaper quotes Bilal as saying that Egyptian-Syrian relations are “strategic and that the two countries “are partners in everything . It is fated that they be on the same boat.
Bilal’s statements and similar “kind remarks from other Arab leaders concerning Egypt, noticeably underscored in the national media, came after Syrian President Bashar El-Assad lashed out at Arab leaders, following the Israeli-Lebanese cease-fire.
In a public speech, broadcast by television networks around the region, El-Assad told his audience that the Lebanese crisis had exposed “half-men, those who did not support Hezbollah.
The Arab media, primarily the Egyptian press, slammed the Syrian president. His remarks have sparked wide-scale disapproval and anger.
In response, the Syrian foreign ministry was quoted as saying that the president did not refer to Arab leaders by the phrase “half-men. The president “is keen on personal and official relationships and on “Arab solidarity, the minister said, according to an Associated Press report. “What [he] meant by this phrase was those individuals inside Syria and maybe outside it who threw doubts on the ability of the resistance to achieve victory.
Similar statements were also stated by the Qatari foreign minister, who, without mentioning specifics had, in the eyes of many, clearly criticized Egypt’s stance during the Israeli offensive on Lebanon.
Such remarks have also spurred angry reactions, especially from national newspaper columnists who rushed to write about Egypt’s “wise leadership and correct position during the ongoing war, highlighting that “heated and passionate reactions usually lead nowhere.
Mubarak, in response to the leaders’ remarks and in defense of Egypt’s highly criticized policies, was quoted by the Middle East News Agency as saying that the Middle East crisis could not withstand “cheap rhetoric.
On a different level, independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm published a round-up of expected government-proposed constitutional amendments likely to be discussed during the People’s Assembly’s upcoming session. According to one headline, presidential terms will not be approached; a topic that many members of the opposition were hoping would be addressed. Many political forces had expressed a hope that the presidential term would be limited to four years and that reelection should be limited to a given number of terms.
The newspaper listed the amendments that are expected to undergo alterations and revisions, with the controversial article 88 topping the list. This article, outlining judicial authority, is expected to be amended to limit judicial control over local elections, in line with a proposal by the government and with support from the ruling National Democratic Party.
The amendment suggests forming a non-judicial independent committee to oversee the election process. Members of the still-to-be formed committee are to be appointed by the government. In theory, the appointments will be based on recommendations from the People’s Assembly.
The proposed amendment has provoked angry reactions and expressions of concern, especially from the Judges Club, which has threatened to boycott the upcoming localities elections if such an amendment is passed.
Al-Masry Al-Youm also highlighted Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Mahdi Akef’s intense statements concerning Arab leaders. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the leader has deemed “some Arab leaders worse than the Israelis.
“If [these leaders] had not been monotheists, we would have killed them, said Akef in a heated statement, adding that the leaders’ position during the Israeli-Lebanese bloodshed was “humiliating and shameful.
“Do these leaders want to give up our Arab lands to international gangsters? he said rhetorically.