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Arabic press review: Did UAE network plot to buy Tunisian MPs?

Also: criticism of media support for Sisi, wife becomes pawn in UAE-Qatar tension, the cost of US 'war on terror'
A general view shows Tunisian lawmakers attending parliament in Tunis in November 2017 (AFP)

What were Emirati spies doing in Tunisia?

An Emirati spy network has been operating in Tunisia since 2016 in an attempt to implement the UAE's political agenda and damage the Ennahda party, according to the Asrar Arabia site.   

The website said it drew its information from a leaked confidential UAE document that revealed the existence of an Emirati spy network operating on Tunisian territory.

An Emirati officer from the network met with a deputy in the Tunisian parliament to arrange the purchase of the loyalty of up to 130 MPs, the news platform added.

The aim of the parliamentary lobby is to "pressure the government to exclude parliamentarians of the Islamic Ennahda movement Party and promote the UAE in the media," the website reported the alleged document as stating.

Egypt prepares for el-Sisi’s nomination

Critics have attacked how Egyptian state institutions have promoted the candidacy of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for the upcoming presidential elections, according to a report in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

The Strong Egypt Party, headed by former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, issued a statement criticising "the political atmosphere as well as the legal and media prosecutions of dissidents", the paper reported.

He added: "Everyone can clearly notice the full dedication of the executive state institutions to collect forms of allegiance to the current president."

Sisi is seeking a second term as president. The election is due to take place on 26-28 March, with a runoff on 24-26 April if needed.

Wife became pawn in Qatar-UAE crisis

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has said that one of the main reasons why the UAE has participated in the blockade of Qatar is because Doha refused to hand over the unnamed wife of an Emirati opposition leader, according to a report in the Algerian El-Khabar newspaper.

The newspaper said that the minister made his remarks on Qatari state TV, where he revealed that the UAE said it would stop media attacks on Doha so long as it handed the woman over.

"Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed sent two envoys to the emir of Qatar in 2015 to demand the extradition of the woman," the newspaper reported the minister as saying.

"Prince Tamim told them that the woman is not wanted for a criminal offence and that her extradition violates international law and the Qatari constitution, since Article 58 of the Qatari constitution prohibits the extradition of any refugees for political reasons."

The minister said the dissident's wife officially left Abu Dhabi for Doha in 2013 during a period of political arrests against government opponents.

When her husband left for the UK, his wife stayed in Doha for family reasons - but when she tried to renew her UAE passport, it was withdrawn by the embassy.

The cost of the US war on terror

The US war on terrorism has cost $6.5tn in 76 countries since 2011, according to the Saudi Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The paper added that the study, conducted by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University in Rhode Island, also revealed that spending on the war on terror would increase US public debt by about $8tn by 2050.

* Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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