Egyptian columnists under fire for UAE comments

Photo: Fahmy Huweidi accused of insulting Gulf Arabs and cosying to Iran

Dubai: An Egyptian columnist has come in for harsh criticism after he claimed that the UAE, driven by personal ambitions, was wasting funds on setting up research centres to fight extremism and terrorism.

Writing for an Egyptian newspaper Al Shorouq, Fahmy Huweidi said the UAE was seeking to fill in a void in the Arab world, even though it did not have the adequate human resources to carry the task.

He added that the UAE should reconsider its priorities, focus on humanitarian causes and avoid spending money on political issues.

The remarks triggered a wave of criticism against Huweidi who has often been accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and of siding with Iran, the nemesis of the Arab world.

“History will recall you as a traitor of your country and as a supporter of its enemies,” Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE foreign minister, posted on his Twitter account where he has close to two million followers.

Yasser Hareb, a writer from the UAE, said that Huweidi had an issue with the Gulf countries.

“He described Gulf nationals as dwarfs. He had insulted Saudi Arabia and he is now insulting the UAE. He did all this for the sake of an intimate relation with Iran. It is a real tragedy when an ‘intellectual’ sells his conscience,” he posted.

In Egypt, Mustafa Bakri, a journalist, said that Al Huweidi was “a mere toy in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“Attacking the UAE through spreading lies and incitement is not freedom of expression,” he said. “The UAE does not fall for that kind of cheap trick. It is well aware of its mission in defending the Arab nation. It seems that the stance of the UAE towards the Muslim Brotherhood terror group and towards extremist movements has fueled hatred within Huweidi, so he started hallucinating,” he posted on his Twitter account.

Meanwhile, A well-known columnist has come under a barrage of fire after he launched a scathing attack on Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, saying they were behaving in “a retarded way”.

“The Saudis will be trapped in the Yemeni quagmire and they will be exhausted after they got engaged in a war with Yemen,” Mohammad Hasanain Haykal said in an interview with the Beirut-based Al Safeer newspaper.

However, Haykal was even more critical of the Gulf countries when he spoke about the nuclear deal reached between Iran and Western countries.

“Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries are too weak to cause problems about the nuclear agreement. They may complain to the US and blame them about the deal which they see as a betrayal. The UAE has so far taken a positive approach. We have to wait and see how these countries behave,” he said.

Haykal said that only Iran, Turkey and India could to some extent be considered as pivot countries in the region.

“Pakistan has numerous dangerous issues while Egypt is preoccupied. There is no Arab alliance that could assume its role. Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries are behaving in a retarded way,” he said.

Several editors, columnists, analysts and social media users blasted Haikal, 92 in September, for his statements, saying that he has become “too senile to make sense”.

“Haykal may say anything he wants about Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf countries,” Abdul Khaliq Abdullah, a UAE analyst and professor of political science, said. “Saudi Arabia will remain the pivot of Arab politics and the UAE is the model state in the Arab region. Haykal is coming from the 20th century and he has problems absorbing the realities of the 21st century where the Gulf has much more influence on the Arab world than the other way around. Haykal, like the other dinosaurs championing the ancient way of thinking, looks arrogantly at all things about and from the Gulf. He has a real issue to recognise that this is the Gulf golden era in the modern Arab history,” he posted to his 68,325 followers on Twitter.

Kuwaiti columnist Fajr Al Saeed said that “Haykal’s statements about Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries clearly indicate that he has moved from the phase of senility to the phase of clinical death”.

Salman Al Dossari, editor-in-chief of the London-based Sharq Al Awsat, said Haykal had not improved his logic.

“He keeps repeating himself. Nothing has changed since I started reading him when I was young. He is upset that the GCC countries are secure and stable,” he posted on his Twitter account.

Gulf  News