The World from Berlin: The Arab Spring Is Turning into a Hard Winter

December 9th, 2012

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Renuka Rayasam, Dec. 7, 2012 (Photo-Gallery).

In the face of growing opposition, Egyptian President Morsi has pledged to forge ahead with his polarizing constitution and defended the decrees that have granted him near absolute power. German editorialists say that without a compromise, the latest round of violence won’t be the last.  

This week Egypt has seen the worst outbreak of violence since the Arab Spring demonstrations that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime two years ago. Six people were killed and hundreds injured when opposition protestors and supporters of President Mohammed Morsi clashed on Wednesday night. And with more demonstrations planned for Friday after midday prayers, there are fears that the rift between the two sides will only deepen.

Despite the unrest, embattled President Morsi stood his ground in a nationally televised address on Thursday night. The president, who is backed by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, said he was open to dialogue with the opposition starting on Saturday, but refused to withdraw decrees he issued last month that put his authority beyond judicial review. He also rejected demands that he postpone a Dec. 15 referendum on a draft constitution that would cement several tenants of Islamism into law.
But opposition leaders say that without those concessions they won’t agree to talks.

United States President Barack Obama called Morsi on Thursday night to express concern for those who have been injured in the violence. According to a statement issued by the White House, the President made clear that the violence was unacceptable and urged both Morsi and the opposition to take part in a dialogue without preconditions.

But in his television address Morsi angrily defended his actions, saying that he was safeguarding the stability of the country and protecting Egypt’s citizens. Opposition leaders, meanwhile, have expressed no interest in Morsi’s invitation to talk and protests continued on Friday.

German commentaries on Friday say that with both sides unwilling to back down, the opportunity for reconciliation is dwindling … (full text).

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