Voices from the Arab press: Trump's indecisiveness on Iran

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

By MEDIA LINE
August 10, 2018 02:07
A PROTESTER makes his feelings known outside the White House as President Donald Trump announced the

A PROTESTER makes his feelings known outside the White House as President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Iran deal, in Washington on May 8, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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TRUMP’S INDECISIVENESS ON IRAN
Asharq al-Awsat, London, August 1

While consistency isn’t necessarily the first word that springs to mind when describing US President Donald Trump’s policy stances, the American president’s open invitation to Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal was a shocking departure from his previous position. Just a week ago, Trump published a tweet threatening to annihilate the mullah regime in Iran if it fails to comply with Washington’s demands. This week, all of a sudden, Trump sounds conciliatory and appeasing.

Indeed, the past few weeks have been particularly tough in Iran. The country’s currency, the rial, plummeted to a record low of 100,000 rials to the dollar, amid a growing financial crisis. Acutely aware of the risk posed by this crisis to his regime, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quick to turn to Oman with a request to mediate between his own government and the American one.

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Trump, to his credit, played a wise game. While he ordered the full reimposition of sanctions on Iran, he has done so gradually, in a few phases. This allowed Tehran’s largest trading partners, especially in Europe, time to adapt to the new sanctions regime. But it also tested Rouhani’s redlines and his ability to compromise.

Truthfully, it’s too soon to announce winners and losers in this battle. Only time will tell whether Trump’s policy will be successful or not. However, one thing remains clear: The Iranian regime will not be able to endure this crisis much longer. Something will eventually have to give: Either the Iranian economy or the Iranian regime will collapse.

Trump, who is well aware of this reality, seems to be open to the idea of maintaining Rouhani’s rule, so long as the latter agrees to renegotiate the deal and curb all of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Therefore, the president made it clear that he would be willing to meet Rouhani without any preconditions. It is clear beyond any doubt that the side making the concessions here would be Iran, not America. 

– Abdulrahman al-Rashed

 
ONLY THE PALESTINIANS CAN ACCEPT KUSHNER’S PEACE PLAN
Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, August 4
Throughout history, the Palestinian people have been victims of careless leaders who stood on the wrong side of history.

When the Allies waged a fierce war against Nazi Germany, Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini chose to side with Adolf Hitler. Zionist soldiers, meanwhile, fought within the ranks of the British and American armies. So when the war was over and Hitler was defeated, the Allies supported the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

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Similarly, when the Suez crisis broke out in 1956, US president Dwight Eisenhower protected Egypt’s interests against Israeli aggression. Thankfully, Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime was saved. But the Egyptian president later turned his back on Eisenhower and sided with Moscow. The Israelis, meanwhile, began laying the foundation for their so-called special relationship with the United States.

In other words, the fate of the Palestinian cause has often been determined by actors who claimed to represent the Palestinians, but in reality sought completely different interests. This has been challenging to witness. Countries that have been tremendously supportive of the Palestinian cause, such as Saudi Arabia, were forced to refrain from imposing their will on the Palestinian people. They offered whatever support they could without dictating to the Palestinian leadership how it should act.

Riyadh stood by the Palestinian people when they waged war against Israel, as well as when they called for peace. It provided funding and political support for successive Palestinian presidents. This policy hasn’t changed since. Saudi Arabia will not command the Palestinian people to accept a peace plan that they refuse to accept. This decision will be left solely to the Palestinian leadership. 

– Fares bin Hezam


GERMANY’S BROTHERHOOD PROBLEM
Okaz, Saudi Arabia, August 3
Germany, together with a few other European countries, has a problem that authorities prefer not to discuss, yet it still exists beneath the surface: an ever-growing presence of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated cells in the country.

The roots of the Brotherhood in Germany go back decades.

But in more recent years, a large wave of Brotherhood affiliates flooded countries such as Germany and Switzerland. These individuals joined Islamic societies and mosques, and began promoting Brotherhood teachings under the guise of charity work.

Some became full citizens, adopting German, enrolling in German universities and even joining German politics. They assimilated into German society and became full citizens.

However, their loyalty does not lie with the German government. A recent declassified report released by the Federal Intelligence Service, Germany’s internal security agency, paints a disconcerting image of this state of affairs. It reveals that many Brotherhood loyalists, especially those who fled Egypt following the ousting of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, began recruiting Syrian refugees in an effort to radicalize them. An investigative report on the same topic published later estimated that some 13,000 Germans secretly identify as Brotherhood members. They are spread across the entire country.

Through its slow and steady underground work, the Brotherhood seeks to create widespread change in German, and eventually European, societies. Its members hope to grow from within, so they can exercise their power and influence internal politics in a way that better suits the Brotherhood’s goals. Germany has become the organization’s international hub, from which it plans to spread its reach and grow its influence in the entire European continent. This is a problem that must not be kept secret. 

– Mishary al-Zaidi

 
THE GAZA DISASTER: CAN IT GET ANY WORSE?
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, August 4
Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip knows that the situation there is completely unsustainable. The people of Gaza lack electricity, water, sewage lines, and even basic food. They have no jobs and no education. Sadly, even their homes no longer offer them a safe refuge, following the renewal of Israeli air raids in recent weeks.

To make matters worse, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine is quickly crumbling, after the US government announced a plan to slash funding for the relief organization from $365 million to a mere $65m. a year. This will push hundreds of Palestinians into the streets, many of whom have already lost their jobs. Even UNRWA workers with long-term contracts are not guaranteed to receive the wages they were once promised.

So what is the way forward? In my mind, there is only one possible solution, and we are now facing a decisive moment in determining whether it will come into fruition. I’m talking, of course, about the Egyptian-brokered rehabilitation plan that has been discussed in recent weeks. According to this initiative, Israel will lift its siege of the Gaza Strip and allow international aid to be funneled into Gaza, where it will restore dilapidated infrastructure and build new structures. As a part of the deal, the Palestinian Authority will be allowed to return to Gaza, turning the enclave into what it was before Hamas’s takeover in 2006.

On the surface, there is no reason for either side to reject this deal. For Israel, this agreement would mean stability and calm on its southern border, which has been unstable for quite some time now. For Hamas, this would save the Gaza Strip from virtual collapse and anarchy.

Yet both sides have ample reason for concern. On the Israeli side, hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman seems determined to launch a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza. On the Palestinian side, Hamas has been stepping up its attacks against Israeli troops on the border, while refusing to negotiate the formation of a national unity government with the PA.

Therefore, for this plan to work out, both sides will have to see beyond their domestic political calculus. This is a one-time shot to rescue Gaza from its state of desolation and despair. We must act now, before it’s too late. 

– Amal Hizzan


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