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1-31 March 2014       28 Rabiul Akhar-29 Jamadiul Awwal 1435 Hijri

Note: Using editorials as an indicator, this series presents views, understanding and attitude of the Urdu periodicals in India towards various developments concerning the Middle East.  The  selection  of  an  item  does  not  mean  the  endorsement  or concurrence with their accuracy or views. Editor, MEI@ND

Roznama Rashtriya Sahara (National Sahara Daily), Delhi
Editorial, 25 March 2014, Tuesday
1. Capital Punishment for Morsi Supporters
Mohamed Morsi was removed from office through a military coup d’état in July 2013. Many analysts had then pointed out that it was Morsi’s hasty decisions to change the system in Egypt that led to his removal. International media was of the opinion that a large section of Egyptians were not happy with Morsi’s work. Therefore, the move was Abdul Fattah Sisi was perceived as one to save Egypt from political instability. However, the way Sisi has gone after the Muslim Brotherhood, the real motive behind the coup has become amply clear. The political instability in Egypt is a result of Sisi’s desire to become president. He is not able to see anything beyond this; thus there is no hope of improvement in the situation anytime soon. His only concern at this stage is to appropriate power. The court order penalizing such a large number of Muslim Brotherhood supporters to capital punishment should be seen in this context. What could be the motive behind such a mass conviction?

It appears that Sisi wants to terrorize the Muslim Brothers so that they go underground and do not contest his political moves. He wants the supporters of Muslim Brotherhood to silently accept whatever is happening. This will remove the most difficult roadblock on way to his becoming president. It cannot be a coincidence that the 529 people who have been convicted belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and are supporters of Morsi. According to reports, the people who have been convicted have been charged with rioting and murder meaning there were serious charges against them but the defence counsel were not allowed ample time to argue. The court displayed extraordinary haste in concluding the case. The entire case was decided in two hearings, particularly when there were serious charges and it was a matter of life of so many people. Did the court had enough witness; were all the witness could be heard and analyzed within two hearings? The question is whether the court is unaware of the political situation that had led to the charges or was it a politically motivated decision?

It seems more such decisions could be taken before the presidential elections. The military is making concentrated effort to pave way for Sisi’s elevation as president. In the last few months, Morsi has been charged with numerous charged including that of killings and seditions. The question is whether Morsi will also face the fate faced by his supporters? This could be a dark phase in Egyptian history.

The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 26 March 2014, Wednesday
2. Murder of Justice in Egypt
The murder of democracy in Egypt has been followed with murder of justice. Egyptians wish to live in a democracy have continuously been thwarted by authoritarian regimes. The hope which had been created by the Arab Spring in 2011 has again been dashed. The nascent democracy which had brought Muslim Brotherhood top power was toppled by the military and now it has taken power in its hands. Currently, the situation in Egypt is worst than an authoritarian regime. In the last six months thousands of supporters of Morsi have been killed by the police and military. A large number of them have been detained and are being prosecuted for serious charges of murder, rioting and sedition. In a recent court order in the southern province of Mina 529 supporters of Morsi have been awarded death penalty. This is an unprecedented judgment, though the order can be challenged in higher courts, what could be the logic behind such a mass capital punishment for killing of one person. This is an unfortunate moment for the judiciary in Egypt which could have played a role of savoir of democracy or at least upholder of justice. However they have taken a hasty and politically motivated decision that is mired with loopholes. This is a clear case of violation of human rights and due process.

The Western powers and their Egyptian allies did not like Muslim Brotherhood’s participation in democratic process. The Islamist organization has now been perceived as a threat by the West and its Arab allies. Many Arab countries have declared it to be a terrorist organization and have banned it. The double standard of the West is apparent here, and its rhetoric of democracy promotion is quite visible when it comes to Islamists. The court has ordered death penalty for 529 Muslim Brothers but if the order is carried out it will lead to mass unrest in Egypt. The roles of OIC and Arab League have also been problematic. In fact the African Union has expressed its distress over the developments and made its differences with the Arab League apparent. Meanwhile, the US is busy patting the Egyptian military for its achievements. India, which will shortly hold parliamentary elections, cannot remain silent on the developments. But that should not prevent the government or the opposition to condemn such human rights violations because silence in such situation will amount to agreement. More importantly, it is the duty of the government to express the feelings of the people of India who are distressed and rattled with such developments in Egypt.

The Siasat Daily (The Politics Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 29 March 2014, Saturday
3. Obama’s Visit of Saudi Arabia
Barrack Obama is on a visit of Saudi Arabia amidst speculations of problems in US-Saudi relations. President Obama reached Riyadh on Friday; however, the earlier warmth between the two countries was not on the display. Obama did not try to ensure Saudi Arabia about its concerns over developments in the region such as in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and most importantly on the US-Iran deal. Saudi Arabia along with other Gulf countries is concerned about the deal because it sees Iran as an adversary and accuses it of fomenting instability in the Gulf. The visit seems to have been planned to discuss recent differences between the US and Saudi Arabia but seems to have failed in moving towards any concrete decision. Previously Obama had visited Saudi Arabia in 2009 and soon after had called for better relations with the Muslim world and the West during his speech in Cairo. However, the policies pursued by him do not seem to be following on the call rather they have alienated many Arab countries. The meeting with King Abdullah has not given any indication regarding any change in its policies. It seems the visit failed in convincing Saudi Arabia and satisfying its concerns. Although the direction of US-Saudi relations will become more apparent in the future, it seems currently they do not share much common ground when it comes to issues in the Middle East. Thus, the tensions in US-Saudi ties may continue. The two share long and historical relations but recent policy decisions in the Middle East have created problems. The US may like to review its policies in the region. Oil and security have defined the relations between the US and Saudi Arabia for the past 60 years but the recent tensions might signal towards some changes. It is not a good sign for the region and decline in US-Saudi relations would lead to further complication in the geopolitics of the Middle East.

Compiled and Translated by Md. Muddassir Quamar

Md. Muddassir Quamar is a Doctoral Candidate at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.  Email 

As part of its editorial policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spelling and date formats to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND: P R Kumaraswamy.