Voices from the Arab Press: View of U.S. domestic tension, Syria and Iraq

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

By THE MEDIA LINE
November 3, 2018 14:55
Voices from the Arab Press: View of U.S. domestic tension, Syria and Iraq

US SENATOR Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) takes a selfie after encouraging volunteer campaign canvassers ahead of the midterm elections, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on October 28.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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THE CAMEL CANNOT SEE ITS OWN HUMP
Al-Arabiya, London, October 26

The recent discovery of explosive devices sent to the mailboxes of high-profile Democrats across the United States is a stark reminder of the deep state of division that exists within American society. In a press conference held last week, President Donald Trump responded to these incidents by assuring the public that authorities are already investigating who was behind these attacks. Yet the president made another important remark: he accused the liberal American media of misleading the public about the attacker and his motivation, making it seem as though he took orders directly from Trump’s team.

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Trump may be viewed as untrustworthy by many, but the statement he made wasn’t wrong. The American media have been waging an incessant war against Trump, often portraying mere speculations about him as truths set in stone. These attacks have moved away from focusing on his policies and transitioned towards personal insults about Trump himself. In the aftermath of the recent bomb scare, I happened to hear American media mogul Jeff Zucker comment on the bomb incident and accuse the White House of “failing to understand that words have consequences to them.” He suggested that Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric is what inspired these supposed attacks. Yet I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I heard him speak. Zucker is, after all, the global head of CNN, which is the very organization that has so loosely been making use of words – even very harsh ones – when it suited an anti-Trump agenda.

Suggesting that we must be careful with our speech is a two-way commitment. The liberal American media cannot expect Trump to play by the rules of a game if it doesn’t do so itself. Yes, there is no doubt that the bombs are deplorable and violent crime that should be addressed. Yet it seems as if the camel cannot see its own hump. Zucker’s advice on the serious implications of words should echo not only in the halls of the White House, but also in every television channel and newspaper room across the United States.
– Mashry al-Zayidi

THE UNITED STATES AND THE STATE OF DEMOCRACY
Asharq al-Awsat, London, October 25

As the midterm elections in the United States draw near, three key factors emerge as the defining traits of the American political arena today.

First, the political debate in the US today does not revolve around policy. If you ask a Democrat about their economic worldview, he or she will likely complain about how Republicans ruined the economy. Similarly, if you ask a Republican about their economic views, he or she will denounce Democrats for always finding a reason to complain. In the midst of this polarization, nobody talks about concrete political agenda anymore.

Second, the American political arena today lacks any credible opposition to Trump. The Democratic Party has not mustered the courage it takes to stand up to Trump and provide a viable alternative to his rule.

This brings me to the third point: unity within the Democratic Party has reached an all-time low. Indeed, the upcoming elections are less about who will stand up to Trump and more about who will lead the Democratic Party. Three main strands have emerged within its ranks.

The first are radical leftists such as Bernie Sanders who seek to imitate Trump-like politics with a socialist spin.
The second are members of the Party’s Old Guard; people like Hillary Clinton and her generation.

The third are the Obama loyalists who seek to revive their predecessor’s charisma and win over the American public. No matter how we look at it, these three phenomena spell out grave trouble for American democracy.

The levels of division and hatred we witness in the United States today are simply unprecedented. Heated arguments that lack any semblance of respect or courtesy have become the norm. For a country that prides itself on its long-standing democratic transitions, the United States seems today much more like a battleground in which exclusive groups of elites fight for ultimate power.
–Amir Taher

IRAQ’S AMNESTY LAW AND ITS DANGEROUS REPERCUSSIONS
Al-Mada, Iraq, October 27


Just when we thought that Iraqi politics cannot get any more cynical, it has been revealed that an undisclosed Iraqi parliamentarian who is on trial for several corruption cases has recently been appointed to Iraq’s Commission of Integrity, tasked with investigating corruption at all levels of the Iraqi government. This specific member of parliament has supposedly embezzled over $70 of Iraqi taxpayers’ money in the past few years.

I personally believe that the outrage should not be over this individual’s appointment to the Commission, but rather over his appointment to parliament in the first place. This reveals a huge problem with the Iraqi political system, which was created in the aftermath of the passing of the 2016 amnesty law. According to this controversial bill, introduced to quell Sunni-Shiite tensions in Iraq, any Iraqi convicted of a crime between 2003 and 2016 would be eligible for amnesty, except for those convicted of severe crimes that resulted in death, rape, or permanent disability.

This bill paved the way for numerous corrupt Iraqi politicians into the parliament. Many of them faced trial and were convicted, only to later be exonerated by the law. A handful of them ended up in parliament, and some, as we now know, even entered the Commission of Integrity.

This, I’m convinced, is just the tip of the iceberg. I have already learned of numerous Iraqi politicians who hold fake degrees from fake institutions, who used legal loopholes to pay their way into parliament and avoid prosecution.

This state of corruption in Iraqi politics should be alarming to anyone who cares about the future of this country. The Iraqi people have overthrown their despot only to have him replaced by a ruling group of corrupt businessmen who bought their way to parliament while burying their crimes.
– Udnan Hussein

DO ALL ROADS LEAD TO DAMASCUS?
Al-Khaleej al-Jadeed, UAE, October 24

Last week, the Nasib Border Crossing, once the busiest border crossing located between Jordan and Syria, reopened for traffic. The crossing had been closed since 2015, when it fell into the hands of the Free Syrian Army, and had remained shut since. Last week this finally changed, when Jordanian authorities reopened the crossing.

Jordan is not the only country to begin restoring formal ties with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. On its western front, Syria’s border crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was quietly reopened in recent weeks, most notably to allow the reunification of Druze families. The same happened on Syria’s eastern border with Iraq, where the Abu Kamal crossing had been re-opened in recent weeks. All of these developments seem to suggest that Assad is on the right path toward gaining the international recognition and legitimacy he needs.

Yet there is still one Syrian border crossing that remains highly problematic: that in the north, between Syria and Turkey. The territory surrounding the Turkish border is dominated by two separate blocs: Kurdish separatists on one side and Turkish forces on the other. Both seek to exert their influence in the region and have the final say over what happens in this territory. In order to reaffirm his sovereignty, Assad is in desperate need of settling the final status of these borders and restoring his power over them.

However, tensions between Moscow and Washington cast a heavy doubt over his ability to do so. The Americans want to ensure that no border crossing is used to facilitate the movement of Iranian troops or armaments into Syria. Moscow, meanwhile, has no real influence over a peace agreement in Syria without the support of Europe and the United States. In this vacuum that has been created, Assad is doing anything he can to gain a de facto authority and define the final borders of his country. 
– Abd al-– – Wahab Badrakan

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