On March 23, the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following opinion piece by editor-in-chief Abdel-Beri Atwan: “Egypt is going through difficult circumstances since its president is recovering from an operation to remove tumors in his intestines that he underwent in a German hospital (and we hope he will get well soon), while the issue of the succession is still surrounded by mystery in the absence of a deputy to assume governance in case something bad were to happen to the president. In light of this justified state of concern, some of those affiliated with the ruling institution are insisting on embarrassing its symbols and on raising matters harming national unity and the image of Egypt as a regional power handling the main issues in [the region. Indeed, Mr. Ahmed Ezz, the prominent businessman (nicknamed the King of Steel) and the head of the Planning and Budget Committee at the Egyptian parliament, is considered to be amo ng the figures affiliated with the ruling regime but who never hesitate to embarrass this regime.
“Just yesterday, he described the demands of the Muslim Brotherhood deputies to summon the Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv and oust the Israeli ambassador from Cairo in protest against the Judaization of the Islamic sanctities in Jerusalem as being “emotional demands lacking political intelligence.” However, this was not the worst of it since he went as far as saying: “If war were to erupt in six months, will Qatar or Saudi Arabia or Algeria help Egypt. There is no dispute over Arab solidarity, but if the people want war, each one of them has to offer something. Egypt will be the first to do that but it will not be alone.” The logic of Mr. Ezz is that of the businessmen who deal with every situation based on the gains and the losses, and not the logic of politicians who look at things based on whether or not they serve the national interests of the country as a whole, as well as its role, status, heritage and history...
“More importantly, the historical information of Mr. Ezz seems to be extremely limited since when Egypt fought the Israelis more than four times, in addition to the honorable depletion war, it did not do it for the sake of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Algeria, but rather for the sake of Egypt, its security and national interests... Throughout seven thousand years, the Egyptian army never was an army of mercenaries fighting for money so that Mr. Ezz [can say] he is willing to engage in war if this or that state were to pay for it. The Egyptian army has always been one carrying out a national, Pan-Arab and Islamic message and that is why it has achieved victory in most of its wars and battles.
“As for the demands of the Muslim Brotherhood deputies to oust the Israeli ambassador from Cairo and summon the Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv in protest against the Judaization of the Islamic sanctities in occupied Jerusalem, it is the least that could be asked from a state enjoying the size, status and role of Egypt in the Arab and Islamic worlds, which makes us wonder why Mr. Ezz and his colleagues condemned these legitimate demands. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Ibrahimi Shrine and all the other Arab Islamic and Christian sanctities are not Palestinian. Therefore, any step undertaken by Egypt, whether it is a military or a diplomatic one, is an obligation imposed by the creed and morals and not a favor.
“We are certain that eighty million Egyptians will volunteer right now to defend these sanctities and die for them, because we know that the blood of dignity, pride and nationalism runs in their veins. Egypt is suffering many catastrophes but the greatest one among them is the presence of a group of businessmen who have taken control over the authority and the decision-making circles in it, thus imposing the culture of “bidding and entrepreneurship” that facilitated their theft of the people... Egypt needs statesmen who will restore its status and role as a regional superpower that is taken into consideration by the major forces before the little ones. What saddens us in this context, since we know Egypt and have memorized its history and honorable lessons, is that the latter were allowed to advance and occupy positions in the command.
“For their part, the Palestinian people do not want Egypt to fight to regain the violated rights - although they are entitled to do so - but want it to support the Islamic sanctities with the minimum level of efforts and the strong use of the pressure cards it enjoys. The destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the building of the alleged Solomon Temple over its ruins or in its square will not be honorable for Egypt, its command and people, because it is the greatest and most important state which has always defended these sanctities and has offered thousands of martyrs for this higher goal.” - Al-Quds al-Arabi, United Kingdom
Fouad GM is a social scientist, and researcher in Middle Eastern affairs. His writings have appeared on several websites, blogs, newspapers and publications by think tanks and research centres. Follow him on Twitter