Al-Shorouk, Egypt, April 11 The gruesome bombings of two Coptic churches in Egypt recently, on the eve of Palm Sunday, remind us yet again of the eminent danger posed by terrorism in our region.
These attacks constitute a new level of threat, given the fact that they took place at religious sites. Even the most savage terrorist groups have historically avoided churches and mosques as targets of attack. In fact, Islam, in its teachings and writings, prohibits the targeting of Christians living in its midst.
In Egypt more specifically, Christian Copts have been an integral part of society, serving in top positions of government and public life. This is why these bombings were particularly shocking: targeting fellow Arabs, in their place of worship, on one of the holiest days of the year.
Therefore, a new reality is being painted here, one in which Islamic State goes farther than any other terrorist organization has gone before, including al-Qaida.
Another serious implication of the attack is the realization that Islamic State has expanded beyond its original borders. It is now active in the Gulf, in Libya, in Sinai and even in mainland Egypt. This warrants a new strategy in fighting terrorism. The policies enacted by President al-Sisi’s government were clearly insufficient in foiling the attack.
Perhaps the clearest and most immediate way to address this challenge is to empower moderate Islamic movements operating in Arab countries. While historically they were viewed as a threat to their respective regimes, it is now clear that these movements – a moderate alternative – are better than no alternative.
Arab youth need to find some viable substitute to violence. They need an outlet for political participation.
And, most importantly, they need to be inspired to build better and more tolerant societies. This is the first realization any Arab government should reach today, in the aftermath of these attacks.
– Muhammad Ayash The future of Russia’s intervention in Syria Asharq al-Awsat, London, April 10 Relations between the Arab world and the former Soviet Union were always warm. Moscow managed to maintain close strategic partnerships with key Arab countries in the Middle East, particularly during the height of the Cold War.
But then, following the collapse of the USSR, the Western Bloc and the United States assumed this role.
Turmoil soon ensued throughout the region: in Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq – not because of the American involvement, but because of the political vacuum that was created in many of these places.
Arab states have since been scared of once again becoming the playground on which great power conflicts unfold. And then came the Arab Spring, bringing back to life their worst nightmares. In the aftermath of the Arab revolutions, we have witnessed Russia and the United States using the Middle East, once again, as a clashing ground between them.
This is the best explanation I can give for Russia’s illogical intervention in Syria and its support for the Assad regime. While this is a somewhat dismal realization to reach, it also captures the solution to the Syrian crisis: removing the threats that created Moscow’s insistence on acting in the first place.
Unfortunately, the most notable of these threats is NATO’s growing influence in Eastern Europe, which culminated in the Russian takeover of Crimea.
To Russia, the Orange Revolution that led to its loss of Ukraine resembles all too closely the revolutions that took place in the Arab world. Therefore, Moscow views Assad as a victim rather than a culprit.
It is hard for me to believe that Russia might give up on its demand to see Assad stay in power. However, it is not inconceivable that American steps of goodwill in Eastern Europe, as well as more American support in the war, will lead Russia to withdraw from Syria.
If the Kremlin gives up its demand to see Assad stay, perhaps both countries could work to empower the moderate Syrian opposition. Sadly, this scenario still seems far, far away. – Abdulrahman al-Rashed A new era of American foreign policy Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 10 We have seen world leaders, the global media, and even individual citizens lash out at American President Donald Trump. He has been mocked, ridiculed and derided. He was portrayed as incompetent, overly emotional and hesitant.
But last week, following the American strike on the Syrian Shayrat air base, Trump proved the world wrong. He demonstrated just how strong the American administration, under his leadership, could be.
In one single strike on a Syrian airfield, Trump once again reminded the world what American power consists of.
Under Obama’s leadership, “foreign intervention” became a scorned term. But the truth is that the United States has a long and successful history of assistance and intervention in foreign conflicts. American forces have been successful at mitigating conflict in Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, history proves that when America did not intervene in international crises, it eventually found itself losing the upper hand. The best American strategy is a planned American strategy. America is effective when it initiates, instead of reacting to developments on the ground.
The recent American bombing in Syria, regardless of its actual impact on the ground, is a great symbolic victory. It has signaled to the world that Trump is not afraid of continuing the long-standing American tradition of foreign intervention. He will not stand idly by as humanitarian crises unfold, setting hypothetical redlines and hiding behind the guise of empty words.
More importantly, the attack signaled that Syrian President Bashar Assad is not immune. He will not be able to continue his genocide without paying a price. Whereas under Obama the Syrian president believed he could stay in power, Trump’s administration sent a clear message: Your days are limited, Bashar, and sooner or later, we will be coming after you. – Turki Aldakhil
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