HOW ISRAELI THREATS GENERATED A MODERATE IRAQI GOVERNMENT
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, September 5
The mullahs in Tehran experienced yet another blow this week, when the Iraqi parliament succeeded in forming a coalition consisting of moderate political forces led by Moqtada al-Sadr. This political coalition, numbering over 170 members, is far larger than the opposition bloc backed by Iran.
This is a watershed moment. The Iranians considered Iraq their home turf
. It had not even crossed the mind of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, that Iran might lose its foothold in Baghdad, where it has been controlling politics for years. There is no doubt in my mind that what led to this Iraqi determination to come together against Iran and form a stable coalition is none other than Israel’s threats. Israel has made it very clear in recent weeks that any Iranian presence in Iraq, particularly the deployment of Iranian weapon systems, would force Tel Aviv to “eradicate” the threat on Iraqi territory.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman conducted several interviews in which he threatened that the Israel Air Force would act in Iraq just like it acts in Syria. The Iraqi members of parliament heard and understood these threats loud and clear. Despite facing heavy pressure from various Iranian stakeholders, who pushed them to reject a political partnership with moderate forces, they were forced to heed the Israeli warning.
Had this coalition-building process taken place a year ago, it is very likely that the Iraqi parliament would have been a puppet government that takes orders from Tehran.
Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. The decision to protect Iraq’s sovereignty is the ﬁrst step in a long journey to turn Iraq into a stable and vital democratic country. The people of Iraq have suffered so much in recent decades and the time has ﬁnally come for them to enjoy peace and security.
While Iran hoped to use Baghdad as a tool – to launder its money, smuggle its weapons, and override the sanctions imposed upon it by the West – the Iraqi parliament made a clear decision to dissociate itself from Tehran and stand by the people of Iraq.
– Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
CREATING A CULTURE OF DILIGENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Al-Shorouq, Egypt, September 4
Hector Cuper, the former manager of the Egyptian national soccer team, is a mirror-image of our society. His approach to soccer lacked creativity, lacked inspiration, lacked adventure and even lacked the basic fundamental principles of the sport. Cuper cared about his own success; not that of his team.
He cared about how he might be perceived in public; not how his players viewed him.
Indeed, our national team paid a heavy price for hiring him, and his departure from Egypt is a blessing to us all. When Cuper led the Egyptian national team to a second place finish at the 2017 Africa Cup, all of us celebrated his achievement. Yet no one looked at our performance and analyzed what led to our defeat in the final. We were victims of excessive self-confidence.
Not a single person – not even Cuper himself – learned from the team’s mistakes in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Here, too, we were overjoyed when our team qualified for the prestigious international tournament for the first time since 1990. We let our excitement get the best of us. We became conceited and smug. This time our hubris came back to bite us, as we suffered three consecutive defeats in Moscow, finished bottom in our group, and were sent home in humiliation. Cuper’s contract was subsequently terminated.
So what is the problem, you might ask? The problem is that in order to achieve greatness, we must all be willing to acknowledge our shortcomings. We must be willing to invest the time and effort in improving ourselves, instead of making up excuses and dismissing our errors as accidental mishaps.
This is true of sports and society. Unfortunately, ours is a culture of cover-ups and excuses, not one of diligence and accountability. Until we change our mind-set, we will experience losses – in sports and beyond.– Hassan al-Mustaqawi
HAS POLITICAL ISLAM COMPLETELY DIMINISHED?
Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, September 4
I was always certain that the “Islamic Awakening” and its expression in politics would eventually fade away, but I am genuinely surprised at how quickly this has occurred. Across the world, people who subscribe to political Islam as a system of governance have become disillusioned. The question is, why? To begin with, it is important to understand that there are several reasons that Arab societies experienced an Islamic resurgence.
The ﬁrst, and most important one, has to do with the Shi’ite Khameneist movement in Iran, which quickly and overwhelmingly succeeded in overthrowing the shah. Hoping to replicate this elsewhere in the region, many Sunni Muslims adopted similar tactics within their own societies.
However, the Iranian revolution clearly failed. Today, we know that the Iranian regime’s inability to build a contemporary state that meets the aspirations of the people is a red ﬂag for adherents of political Islam everywhere. The idea that a modern and functional state can exist on the foundation of a political priesthood seems implausible to any rational person.
Granted, Islamic rule hasn’t completely passed from our world. It still enjoys pockets of support in places such as Qatar and Turkey. The former is a state paralyzed by the Arab boycott, while the latter is currently witnessing its currency plummet to a record-low level.
Thus, proponents of political Islam now understand, even if they don’t admit so publicly, that the movement is doomed to fail. The political crises in both of these countries evidence how unstable this doctrine is. It might be compelling on paper, but not in real life, as theocracies are simply incompatible with the demands of modern societies.
Young Muslims want freedom of speech, political representation and the right to practice their own beliefs. I am sure that with time, we will witness political Islam completely fade away from our world.
– Muhammad Al al-Sheikh ON CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Al-Khaleej, UAE, September 3
Arabs and Muslims have long had an inexplicable obsession with conspiracy theories, myths and folklore. Many of us in the Arab world truly believe that greater forces, which are out of our control, shape the courses of our lives. This comes as no surprise to anyone living among us.
Yet I was shocked to read a recent study conducted in France, which shows that nearly 80% of the French people believe in conspiracy theories, including the idea that what is happening in our world today is somehow controlled by invisible governments. What are the similarities between our societies that might be causing these beliefs? In my humble opinion, the French might feel inferior to the Anglo-Saxons, just like we, in the Arab world, often feel inferior to our counterparts in the West. Historically speaking, the French culture has been outweighed by the Anglo-Saxon one. So, in order to justify this inferiority complex, the French people resort to doing what many self-doubting civilizations do: developing beliefs about how forces beyond their control conspired in dark rooms to diminish their cultural, ﬁnancial or political strength.
Unfortunately, adhering to these kinds of beliefs, even subconsciously, is extremely dangerous. As the Arab experience has taught us, this pushes societies to ignore their own failures, while absolving individuals of responsibility for their actions.
At this point you might be asking yourself how this applies to real life. Consider, for example, that politicians often use conspiracy theories to justify their failures. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who created Turkey’s currency crisis with his own two hands, insisted that his country was subjected to some foreign “crusade.” Like many other politicians, Erdogan simply didn’t want to admit his own failings, so he resorted to spreading false claims.
Instead of ascribing every failure to a conspiracy, we would be much better served if we demanded our leaders provide real, rational and logical explanations for their actions.
Surely, there are sinister forces in the world trying to exert covert inﬂuence over economies and political systems, but they unquestionably aren’t behind each and every success or failure we experience on a day-to-day basis.
– Yasser Zatara
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