Hot off the Arab press 377903

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East.

Islamic State flags flutter on the Mullah Abdullah bridge in southern Kirkuk, Iraq, on Monday. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Islamic State flags flutter on the Mullah Abdullah bridge in southern Kirkuk, Iraq, on Monday.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A comprehensive response is needed
Al-Ahram, Egypt, September 24
With the launching of the Western operation against Islamic State, many questions come to mind: Are air raids a sufficient method to eradicate the roots of terrorism? Are terrorists throughout the Middle East really fighting in the name of Islam? And what about other terrorist groups in our neighborhood, such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which kills dozens of innocent civilians on a daily basis? It seems that Egypt is the only country that says this openly out loud: The roots of terrorism are much deeper than al-Qaida, al-Nusra, ISIS, or other jihadist groups. The roots of terrorism are grounded in the double standards and opportunism with which the major Western powers approach our region. Instead of pleasing the narrow interests of one party or another, the fight against terrorism must be comprehensive. Striking Islamic State might weaken it in the short term, but other radical groups will continue to exist elsewhere in the region in the long run. This is because, underneath the ground, the roots of terrorism are still growing – as a result of social and economic injustice, poverty, misery and the lack of proper education. If the West continues to deal with the terror threat as an issue isolated from the rest of the problems of this region – in Syria, in Libya, in Yemen, in Iraq, and of course, in Palestine – it will not achieve successful results. Unless a comprehensive strategy is developed, encompassing all of these issues, the American air strikes are destined to be a failure before they have even begun.
Is Sunni jihad forbidden, while Shi’ite jihad allowed?
Al-Quds al-Arabi, London, September 26
The Islamic world in general, and the Arab world in particular, have been closely following the Western campaign against the Sunni terrorism of Islamic State.
A recent issue of The New York Times publicly celebrated the “international coalition against Sunni terrorists in Syria and Iraq.” Meanwhile, however, Shi’ite fighters wreak havoc in the Middle East and slaughter hundreds in Iraq and Syria, but go unnoticed. No one in the Western media ever thought of mentioning the other face of Islamic extremism – that of Shi’ites. Why limit the Western campaign to merely one type of terror? Did the United States forget how the former Iraqi minister of interior viciously tortured Sunni prisoners in Iraqi jails? Does America know that the vast majority of prisoners in Iraqi jails are Sunnis? Does Washington remember that Sunnis are persecuted in Iraq, that the Shi’ite Iraqi government is the sole reason for the emergence of Islamic State, and that Shi’ite terrorism in Iraq has been taking place for over a decade? Have you seen America react to Shi’ite terrorism in Yemen, Lebanon, Pakistan or Afghanistan? Did France finally agree to add Hezbollah to the list of terror organizations, or does it still refuse to do so? I wonder whether the West believes that Sunni terrorists are graduates of universities in Tora-Bora or Kandahar, while Shi’ite ones are proud alumni of Harvard and Oxford. Is one type of terror “haram” and the other “halal”? Is Sunni jihad forbidden, but Shi’ite jihad allowed?
Turkey: A buffer zone or a strategy to overthrow the Syrian regime?
Al Jazeera, Qatar, September 28
Despite the Western silence regarding Turkey’s plan to build a buffer zone on its borders with Syria and Iraq, Ankara seems to be promoting the implementation of this plan with great vigor. Its goals are twofold. The first is to create a safe space to shelter the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from the fighting and the shelling, after Turkey reached its alleged absorption capacity of over 1.2 million refugees. The second is to establish Turkish dominance on the international border, much of which is currently controlled by the Syrian opposition. The initiative is not new; the United Nations Security Council has already proposed it in the past, with the rejection of the United States. Today, however, it is being proposed in perfect alignment with the formation of the Western coalition against Islamic State. The timing is not coincidental: Turkey wants to use the war waged against ISIS as a strategy to end the Syrian crisis, which has been negatively influencing its domestic politics for several years. Ankara hopes to use the Western coalition as a means to bring an end to Assad’s regime and form a Turkey-abiding puppet state in Syria. Turkey is cleverly offering the United States a deal: active Turkish involvement in the military fight against ISIS, in return for American support for its new, ambitious border plans. One must carefully read what is said and done in the hallways of the parliament in Ankara.
Hamas is more ‘realistic’ today than before
A-Sharq al-Awsat, London, September 28
In his first-ever interview with CNN, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad explained that Qatar would continue to support Hamas, saying, “We support the Palestinian people and we believe that Hamas is a crucial component of the Palestinian people.”
Perhaps one of the Sheikh’s most interesting remarks was his answer to the question of how Hamas has changed throughout the years: “I think that the difference between today’s Hamas and Hamas of 10 years ago is that it is now more realistic... they believe in peace and they want peace, but Israel needs to want peace and become more realistic as well.”
The prince’s remarks pose some important questions: If Hamas was indeed unrealistic until today, why is it that certain countries chose to fund it all along, despite its lack of rationale? Why did people watch Hamas from the sidelines, as it exploited Palestinian blood and risked the future of the Palestinian cause? Who bears the burden of two wars in Gaza and the blood and destruction inflicted upon thousands of innocent Arabs? Who is responsible for the missed opportunities and the obstinate slogans “Gaza will win,” despite Hamas’s lack of belief in peace “back in the day”? What about the PLO men who were thrown off rooftops in Gaza during Hamas’s coup d’état, who have died only to have Hamas beg the Palestinian Authority to return and control Gaza today? Sadly the Sheikh’s remarks are extremely unsettling.
This story is a story about innocent people and their lives. This story is about the blood of thousands shed in vain. It is not enough to say “better late than never” – not in this case.