Concerns about a new war in the Middle East, the interference of several foreign parties in Lebanon, and the role of Egypt in the new crisis were the focus of several op-eds on Monday. Despite an understanding of Iran’s plans in the region, should Saudi Arabia wade into a war that would have drastic consequences for the region, particularly Lebanon?
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri’s made his first appearance since his resignation on Sky News Arabia on Sunday evening.
Also, commentary continued to evaluate the World Youth Forum (WYF) held by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Sharm El-Sheikh, while presidential elections also became a recurrent topic discussed by writers.
Al-Ahram’s journalist with expertise on Lebanese affairs Maher Maqlad addressed the fact that Al-Hariri became a national hero with demands of his return, as his resignation and stay in the Saudi kingdom remains mysterious.
Makram Mohamed Ahmed, head of the Supreme Media Council, wrote in state-run daily Al-Ahram that despite the missile Houthis fired towards Saudi Arabia which sparked current tensions, it wouldn’t be wise for Saudi Arabia to respond to Iran with war.
In the same context, according to Emad El-Din Hussein, the editor-in-chief of the private Al-Shorouk newspaper, Egypt has made it clear that it will not be part of any armed conflict between states in the Middle East and will push for dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
But in his op-ed in the same newspaper, Mostafa Kamel El-Sayed, professor of political science at Cairo University, sees potential for Egypt to play a role in maintaining balance in the region that could spare the people of Lebanon a war in the Middle East. However, that role may be minimised by its lack of ties with the Iranian regime
This comes as Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry started a tour of Arab countries which includes Saudi Arabia but not Lebanon, although the crisis is at the top of his agenda.
Also in Al-Ahram, political analyst Osama El-Ghazaly Harb, raised questions about the role of Egypt, which in his opinion should not decrease, but rather, work on preventing interference in Lebanese affairs.
On presidential elections, journalist Hany Assal wrote in Al-Ahram about a foreign media agenda that aims to negatively portray the election of Al-Sisi for a second presidential term, calling outlets such as Reuters “hateful to the Egyptian state”. Assal has previously written several pieces for Al-Ahram attacking foreign media’s criticism of the Egyptian regime.
Assal described Reuters as “the foreign media which hates the Egyptian state the most, pointing out to contradiction in a report covering a campaign launched to support Al-Sisi. According to Assal, the report said the president’s popularity has diminished, while on the other hand, it asserted his high chances of victory while also claiming it a one-party election.
Journalist Ahmed Elderiny wrote in the privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm about the WYF, which he attended, noting that issues concerning young people, which took place at the same time, didn’t go unnoticed, such as the death of a detained Nubian activist after a hunger strike, and the continuing of activist Alaa Abdel Fattah’s imprisonment
Alaa Al-Ghatrifi, editor-in-chief of ONA, also tackled the pros and cons of the WYF in the same newspaper, pointing to some unsuccessful seminars, but praising the chance given to foreign media to discuss human rights and press freedom.
Meanwhile, writer Fatima Naoot addressed Al-Sisi through Al-Masry Al-Youm to call for the return of currently endangered rights of Coptic Christians, especially in Minya, where recent reports said churches were closed to prayers. She also gave an interview in Monday’s issue of the privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper, where she discussed extremist religious discourse.