Egypt’s historical role

Alaa Thabet
Saturday 8 Aug 2020

It is not surprising Cairo is one of the very first countries to open an air bridge of medical and food supplies to Lebanon.

The giant explosion which hit Beirut Port, causing unprecedented destruction and rendering thousands dead or injured, was the size of a devastating earthquake that went beyond Lebanon’s boundaries to be felt in Cyprus.

During crises, the essence of real leadership and strong ties among states is shown. This is the natural role Egypt has been playing for centuries.

As the elder sister that has wide ranging capabilities and despite its own internal hardships, Egypt has the will and the ability to move forward during times of economic, political and natural disasters.

Egyptians used to share their food with their Arab brothers and we have seen Egyptian flights carrying medical supplies to China and Italy during the pandemic. Cairo’s role was extended to approach some African states, offering help and medical supplies during the lockdown caused by COVID-19.

Egypt’s grand role is derived from its civilisation and culture. Its strong historical ties with Arab neighbours, especially Lebanon, have always been part of its traditions.

Egypt has always had strong and special ties with the Levant, the area that includes Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. But when it comes to Lebanon, the Lebanese have formed part and parcel of the Egypt cultural renaissance early last century in cinema, theatre, and music, as well as in trade and journalism.

Until this very day, Al-Ahram still carries the names of its Lebanese founders Selim and Beshara Taqla.

The newspaper which was found some 144 years ago and became the jewel of journalism in the region was crowned by the writings of Khalil Motran who was born in Lebanon and died and was buried in Egypt.

Motran represents the melting pot for the Egyptian and Lebanese cultures. At the same time, Cairo used to play a leading role in Lebanon as a mediator between parties especially when political, ethnic or religious conflicts erupted.

Egypt’s role was accepted by all parties because it has established an equal space of respect and appreciation among all of them.

Time has come for Egypt to play its natural role. Cairo should not be limiting its assistance to offering medical supplies and food. Beirut was burned and turned upside down because of the current political disputes that have been shaking the country for months. It is time for all those involved in Lebanon's political arena to put their differences aside and look deep down into the core of their problems.

There are hundreds of challenges resulting from this crisis but there are also thousands of opportunities to be seized.

It is high time for the Lebanese feuding parties to put an end to the current ethnic and religious conflict. Lebanon should not become an arena for ethnic disputes. Meantime, regional and international conflicts should not reflect on Lebanon.

Beirut is known for being the point connecting East and West and is characterised by its cultural, economic and political openness. It should never become an arena for conflicts, but rather a place for unity.

Some countries, such as Turkey and Qatar, have been offering help, buying time and loyalties and making use of the economic crisis there, for Lebanon to become a new Syria. It was not long ago when the very same countries offered help to Damascus, paving the way for their armed militias to destroy the country.

Lebanon should revisit the core of its identity. It should not bear the consequences of the current conspiracies to dismantle the Arab world. We should try harder to put an end to foreign interferences and armed militias.

The bridge of supplies should be the right connection between Lebanon and its Arab neighbours. It should be a bridge that connects all Lebanese together, a bridge to a better future.

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