Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, September 25
Last week, a large blast shook the streets of the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, just as a military parade was proceeding through the main square. More than 25 individuals were killed in the attack, including several Revolutionary Guards soldiers. This assault was not coincidental; it was meant to target the Revolutionary Guards and send a clear message to the government in Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quick to respond by vowing to react “swiftly and decisively” against the perpetrators. He accused “foreign powers”
of being behind the incident, alluding to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Of course, to propose that Riyadh or Abu Dhabi are responsible for such a cowardly terrorist act is preposterous.
The oppressive Iranian regime has made its fair share of enemies, both at home and abroad, that could be behind this assault. The list is long, and going one by one would be tiresome and grueling; however, several names come to mind.
One group is the Mojahedin e-Khalq, an Iranian anti-regime militia that has been one of the country’s most active and violent opposition groups. Otherwise, the people behind the attack could be Iranian ethnic and religious minority groups that have a desire to express their rage at the central government. One example is Iran’s Kurds, whose political headquarters in Iraq was recently targeted by Iranian missiles, leaving 11 people dead.
Then, of course, there is the possibility that those behind the attack are just normal citizens like those who have taken to the streets in recent months to demonstrate against their government’s policies. Irrespective, it is clear that the message sent to the regime was heard loud and clear.
In the aftermath of this attack, the mullahs sitting in the Sa’dabad Palace in Tehran have yet another reason for concern. Between Iran’s domestic turmoil and American sanctions, very few options remain to restore stability in the country. In many ways, regardless of who planted the bomb or shot the rifles, the sole culprit is the Iranian regime itself. – Mashri al-Zayidi
Agreements With Israel Are Doomed To Fail
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, September 25Recently revealed documents
shine a fascinating light on the process leading up the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which left a deep mark on subsequent negotiations in the region, particularly Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
When Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser considered signing a deal with the Israelis, he wasn’t opposed to ending his country’s war with its neighbor. What he demanded, however, was that Israel withdraw from all of the territories it occupied, including the Palestinian ones. Unlike Nasser, [former president Anwar] Sadat was less resolute. He sought to deepen his country’s relations with the United States and therefore rushed to accept a deal with Israel.
Unlike his predecessor, Sadat did not insist on liberating all of Palestine. He even worked to get other Arab countries on board, but they were hesitant to join his efforts. Perhaps most surprising was the position of the Palestinian leadership, which actually supported Sadat’s initiative to sign a deal with Israel, but later, after facing threats from other Arab states, reversed course.
The direct result was the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, as we know it today; the indirect result was internal division in the Arab world. Had all Arab states, including the Palestinians, negotiated with Israel together, as one unified front, the Israelis would have been forced to make far-reaching concessions.
But because each Arab state negotiated alone, none of them succeeded in gaining the important achievements the Palestinians so desperately needed. Israel was able to divide and conquer its enemies.
It is this exact division that bred terrible agreements – the Madrid Conference, the Oslo Accords, the Wye River Memorandum – that contributed to nothing but the further weakening of the Palestinian cause. Each round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations only forced the Palestinians to make more and more concessions to Israel, while demanding nothing in exchange.
One might have thought that the Arabs learned their lesson from the Egyptian experience, realizing that jumping into rash deals is a terrible idea. But Arab leaders today are openly calling for the normalization of ties with Tel Aviv and the establishment of full-fledged diplomatic relations with Israel.
Not only have we failed to learn our lesson, we are acting in direct contradiction to our political interests. This movement to sign a deal with Israel is even more desperate than it was during Sadat’s era. If these numerous agreements failed at achieving Palestinian statehood, no modern-day agreement ever will.
– Sameh Rasheed
Will Syria Last As A Unified Country?
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, September 24
If you ask each one of the stakeholders currently involved in the Syrian civil war – the US, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or even Iran – what their opinion of the situation is, you will quickly learn that all of these players would like the country to remain a united geographic entity with its current borders.
Where these countries diverge dramatically, however, is in their visions of the future domestic reality in Syria. Turkey wants to weaken the Kurdish population; the Americans want to destroy ISIS; Israel wants to curb Iran and Hizbullah; and Jordan wants to stop the flow of refugees into its territory. Under these conditions, it seems highly unlikely that Syria will be able to maintain its unity as a state.
Adding to the complexity is Bashar Assad’s total unwillingness to compromise, even though the Syrian opposition capitulated to his demands and handed him back free rein over the country. With each one of the players pulling Syria in its own direction, the nation will simply disintegrate. The unfortunate reality is that the Syrian conflict ended without clear winners.
What this means is that no single power can force its will upon the others: Iranian troops will continue to be stationed in Syria, Israel will continue enforcing a buffer zone on its border, and Russia will maintain its forces on the ground and in the air. Assad’s single policy is to maintain his rule, and he will likely do so even at the cost of losing parts of Syria. – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
Gaza: A Testing Ground For Weapons
Al-Diyar, Lebanon, September 26
Just when you think the actions of the Israeli government could not get any worse, Israeli policymakers succeed in breaking their own record for moral indecency. The most recent controversy is a claim made by several Israeli commentators about the possible outbreak of another round of fighting in the Gaza Strip
This prospect, according to some Israeli pundits, has nothing to do with Israel’s security; rather, it centers on a need to test new Israeli weapons systems in the battlefield. Although startling, what you are reading is correct: the Israeli military and its largest weapons manufacturers want to use a war in Gaza to test their newest technologies before selling them to buyers abroad. The same observers also noted that yet another incentive for war is the investigations facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Television reports of fighting in Gaza would surely deflect attention away from Netanyahu and rally Israelis around their flag. Israel will use excuses such as “self-defense” and “preemptive attack” to justify its actions, and the international community, led by the United States, will back the Israeli claims. Despite horrendous human rights violations, no one will hold Israel accountable. It will gain more and more legitimacy to continue its persecution of Palestinians, who are already locked up in open-air prisons.
Until someone in the Arab world stands up to Israel and takes it upon himself to confront the latter’s brutal policies, the Palestinians will continue to serve as human targets used by the Israeli army for training purposes. – Hussam Kunfani
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