Voices from the Arab press

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

LEBANON’S HEZBOLLAH supporters hold photographs of leader Hassan Nasrallah during his address via a video screen in Beirut last September.  (photo credit: KHALIL HARAN / REUTERS)
LEBANON’S HEZBOLLAH supporters hold photographs of leader Hassan Nasrallah during his address via a video screen in Beirut last September.
(photo credit: KHALIL HARAN / REUTERS)
Saudi Arabia, November 5
“Arab youth are growing increasingly disillusioned with their regimes. Political ideas that once galvanized the masses are now subject to mockery and ridicule. This is certainly the case in Lebanon where Hezbollah, previously a popular party led by a charismatic leader, is viewed by growing swaths of the public as a pariah.
“2006 marked a pivotal year for Hezbollah, as the Shi’ite organization went to war against Israel and managed to convince Lebanese citizens that it stood for the defense of Lebanon and the protection of the Palestinian people. Since then, however, the Shi’ite organization’s true motive has been exposed: it is loyal to Iran. Its popularity has plunged in parallel with this growing understanding in Lebanon and, more broadly, across the region. Even young Shi’ites today refrain from openly supporting the party, believing that doing so will further damage Lebanon’s sovereignty.
“While Shi’ite and Sunni extremism are both equally dangerous, they are also quite different as the former is promoted by a state – the Islamic Republic of Iran – that seeks to spread its toxic ideology throughout the Middle East. Make no mistake: This is the only reason for Hezbollah’s existence and the Arab public is well aware of this. As Arab societies finally begin to recover from the massive political upheavals that swept through their capitals in 2011, men and women are no longer enchanted by empty promises of rogue regimes.
“As a result, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah seems like nothing more than a messianic zealot overseeing a marginal group of followers who seek to destroy Lebanon by turning it into an Iranian proxy. The Arab people have had enough of this and wish instead to build a better future for themselves. It is only a matter of time until the likes of Hezbollah and Islamic State lose every last drop of the credibility they once enjoyed and finally disappear from the face of the earth.”
– Yehiyha al-Amer


November 4
“As Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu geared up for his trip to London to mark the centennial of the Balfour Declaration, it became clearer and clearer that Britain’s Arab public disapproved of the festivities surrounding the occasion. In an effort to quell this outrage, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson published an editorial in the Daily Telegraph, calling for the immediate implementation of the two-state solution.
“This was futile. Repeating the same mantra that we, in the Arab world, have heard for decades – ‘two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace and prosperity’ – is an affront to our intelligence. Such statements have been made since what seems like the dawn of time yet we continue to witness the Palestinian people humiliated and harassed on a daily basis. Acknowledging that the Balfour Declaration was issued 100 years ago is one thing, but celebrating this reprehensible part of British history is simply abhorrent.
“Prime Minister Theresa May took this shame to the next level when, in speeches, joint meetings and a state dinner, she described the declaration as a source of British ‘pride’ and ‘victory.’ In response, I can say only one thing: there is no pride in denying the rights of Palestinian women and children. There is no victory in London’s disregard for Palestinian lives, nor is there any dignity in displacing innocent civilians from their homes. Moreover, no purpose is served by an editorial that seemingly attempts to rectify the situation.
“Instead of praising this declaration, the British government should have acknowledged its role in creating the Palestinian catastrophe. Only then can it apologize and begin to take responsibility for the chaos we see in the Middle East.”
– Baker Awida

Al-Anba, Kuwait, November 4
“The last towns and cities in Iraq have only just been liberated from Islamic State, but Baghdad is already promoting laws that might force women back to the dark days living under the rule of the terrorist organization.
“The Iraqi parliament recently voted on a set of bills to legalize child marriage, applying to girls as young as nine years old. Women, who have been the ultimate victims of ISIS – having faced harassment, rape, and slavery – will now potentially be subjected to a new set of regulations that would again deprive them of their basic liberties. The law also outlaws marriage between sects, with the purported goal of eliminating sectarian tensions.
“Amid backlash, Iraqi legislators have justified this ‘progressive’ bill as a way to enhance the rights of women to inherit the property of their fathers. But it is clear that this new move paves the way for the institutional enslavement of women by defining any girl above the age of nine as a legally responsible adult. Can we take a moment to ponder the meaning of this? A girl in the fourth grade – still in elementary school – would be considered mature enough to accept a marriage proposal without the consent of a parent or guardian.
“This law is not only a violation of women’s rights but also of children’s rights.
It is a stark and frightening reminder that although Islamic State is on its way to defeat, its radical ideology still lives on. It does not matter whether such rules are promoted in the name of Islam or, in this case, allegedly for the benefit of women – there should be no room in any political system for such flagrant violation of human rights.
“Sometimes our biggest enemies are those that walk among us and not the radical organizations we fight with the sword.”
– Hazem Sagiyah


Asharq al-Awsat, London,
November 2
“Last week, executives from three major US tech companies – Facebook, Google and Twitter – appeared before Congress to answer questions about their respective platforms’ role in facilitating the dissemination of Russian propaganda during the 2016 American presidential campaign. Under oath, the representatives revealed shocking information about Russian cyber attacks on the US.
“Facebook, for example, disclosed that over 130,000 posts on its site that appeared to originate from America were actually sent from centers in Russia. Most of these posts were geared toward frightening the public about impending terrorist attacks or Washington’s lax immigration policies. Similarly, a Twitter executive revealed that thousands of fake profiles were created and managed by Russian hackers whose goal was to spread disinformation about the presidential candidates.
“The companies’ current line of defense is that their platforms serve only as a medium through which to share information, and thus they are not responsible for the nature of content proliferated. However, if it is proven that they were aware of the fraudulent Russian activity, these executives and their colleagues could face serious charges. The findings are rather shocking, as they suggest we have entered into a new era of cyber warfare, one in which propaganda is increasingly indiscernible from facts.
“Moreover, there is no reason to believe that Russia is the only country using such tools.
In the Gulf, for example, the recent political crisis reminds us once again of the incredible power of social media to shape political realities and outcomes. Qatar has been using Al Jazeera to spread false news against its neighbors and incite the Arab public against moderate Sunni regimes. “Accordingly, the executives of these three tech companies are unlikely to have been surprised by the Russian hacks. While they are well aware of the criminal activities that their products enable, they apparently have no interest in changing the status quo or preventing the next attack.”
 Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed