Hot off the Arab press 383642

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

A Palestinian journalist speaks to the camera as she stands on a flooded street, (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian journalist speaks to the camera as she stands on a flooded street,
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gaza is sinking in the cold
Al-Dustour, Jordan, November 29
Gaza City – suffering under hundreds of tons of air attacks, the city exposed to brutal Zionist aggression, the city that was turned into ash and still resisted and fought back – this same Gaza is now plunging into cold and mud. With no reconstruction of its streets and homes in sight, no aid money reaching the citizens on the ground, and no reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, the city is left to shiver. It is true that rain is a blessing from heaven, but Gaza is not thirsty; rather, cold and hungry.
Houses destroyed by the Zionist bombings are still piles of stones, covering what once were homes. Children lost the warmth of their parents; parents lost the warmth of their families. There is no fuel to run stoves or heaters. Streets are flooded with water.
Meanwhile, a new bill discussed in the Knesset seeks to complete the process of Palestinian annexation, taking over the few cities left inside the 1948 borders: Jaffa, Haifa, Nazareth, Lod, Ramle. The Palestinian leadership’s refusal to unite against this cause, the ongoing war between the “State of Gaza” and the “State of Ramallah,” leaves both Palestinian factions weak. Gaza, meanwhile, is chattering her teeth from the cold, calling for help from its Arab neighbors, and reminding us again that the so-called Arab Spring has, by now, become a very cold “Arab Winter.”
– Rashad Abu Daud
Iran’s future role in the Middle East
Asharq Al-Awsat, London, November 26
The image of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shaking hands with the leaders of the P5+1 world powers, following the Vienna negotiations over his country’s nuclear program, remind me of the photo of the “Big Four” in their 1919 meeting in Versailles, shortly after World War I. The photo, featuring then- US president Woodrow Wilson alongside the British, Italian and French prime ministers, marked the beginning of a new world order.
Last week’s photo did, too. The world’s five biggest powers, alongside the European Union, de facto welcomed Iran to the club of nuclear powers and established its importance as a Middle Eastern partner.
Ironically enough, after the negotiations had to be extended, each side claimed the move as its own victory.
The Iranian leaders were quick to state they had defended their country’s right to acquire nuclear capability.
The Obama administration, meanwhile, has been clearly trying to undermine the importance of the Iranian issue, portraying the fight against Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusrah as issues more critical to solve.
The US’s close allies in the Middle East, however, are reluctant to accept this stance, as are parts of the American administration itself – as seen in the dismissal of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week. The Middle East’s countries are not willing to accept this foreign policy, which weakens them and empowers Tehran.
Obama might be leaving office in two years, but the people of the region will remain, paying the price for America’s failed policies.
Egypt’s mutual interest with its neighbors
Al-Jarida, Kuwait, November 15
If you ask any Egyptian official about foreign relations with its African neighbors, they will immediately exalt their country’s leadership in the continent, and claim such ties are the best they have ever been. “Egypt is a non-aligned country; it is Arab, African and Islamic,” they will conclude. But the fact of the matter is, this diplomatic answer does not reflect years’ worth of negligence on the part of the Egyptian regime in acknowledging and cooperating with its African neighbors – particularly those in the Nile River basin.
Only recently did Egyptian officials, including heads of state, begin visiting other African countries to discuss the future of the region, distribution of water resources and protection of the Nile. These issues are strategic interests for Egypt, and should be treated as such. Fostering working relations with other African states, increasing flights between their capitals, signing trade agreements and creating trade mechanisms is crucial for Egypt. The recent step taken to enhance these ties is an important one, and we can only hope such efforts continue in the future.
– Abd al-Lateef al-Manawi
Why is Islamic state in Syria Stronger than in Iraq?
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, November 14
Several scenarios have been put on the table regarding possible ways to eliminate the threat of Islamic State. Thus far, coalition forces have launched strikes in Syria and Iraq, but none of them have fully stopped the spread the organization. While they are weakening Islamic State’s foothold and progression, these strikes are not cutting down its roots.
According to data collected on the ground, the elimination of Islamic State in Iraq seems to be much easier than its elimination in Syria. Why? Because coalition forces enjoy the help of Iraqi troops, who assist on the ground between one air strike to another, making the attack more effective. In Syria, meanwhile, there is no real partner or alliance on the ground with which the West can coordinate attacks. Once the ground forces achieve more comprehensive results, mainly taking over the cities of Anbar and Tikrit, they will be able to move on to an even better front against the organization: Closing the border between Syria and Iraq, and ending the free flow of fighters and arms between the countries.
– Faraj Abji
An expected acquittal
Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, November 29
Ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s acquittal on all charges of corruption and ordered killing of demonstrators, announced this morning following what was called the “Trial of the Century,” was very much expected. When Mubarak’s first sentence – life imprisonment – was handed down two years ago, Egypt was still in the midst of its revolution. The people on the streets demanded symbolic punishment for the regime and its key figures, particularly Mubarak, and thus the verdict was given.
What we now know, looking back, is that the revolution was not as simple as people had expected: Mubarak’s fall left a vacuum over which many political figures and parties competed, and the hope for a bright future for Egypt was replaced with domestic turmoil under Mohamad Morsi. Today, many people look back with longing to the days of Mubarak, even if his regime was knowingly corrupt. People are willing to forgive him not because he was not bad, but because what came after him was much worse. This is why the outcome of today’s verdict was expected.
However, we should now look to the future. Instead of crying over past leaders we ought to look towards new ones, and push Egypt where we want it to be.
– Amr al-Shawbaki