Hot off the Arab press

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

A man shouts anti-government slogans during a protest against the court dropping its case against Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A man shouts anti-government slogans during a protest against the court dropping its case against Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Brotherhood Times
Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, December 3
Is it a coincidence? Each time something happens in Egypt, The New York Times steps up its assault on the Egyptian leadership, and publishes – whether intentionally or not – editorials that support the Muslim Brotherhood’s actions. The most recent attack took place on December 1, following the acquittal of overthrown leader Hosni Mubarak. The same paper that paid tribute to editorials exalting Mubarak’s statesmanship before the 2011 revolution was quick to describe his exoneration as the “demise of the Arab Spring.” All the while, it blatantly ignored the Brotherhood’s attempt to cause public unrest in Egypt. The newspaper claimed that Mubarak’s supposed innocence is a mockery to the youth that took to the streets to demonstrate. It is forgetting, however, that the same youth called for the fall of the United States and its hypocritical policy towards Egypt. My sense is that this most recent editorial was aimed at criticizing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s takeover of a “democratically elected government.” Unfortunately, the number of Egyptians who really wanted to see the Brotherhood in power, and democratically voted for them, is equal to the number of Egyptians whom the Times so courageously defends: almost none. – Muhammad Salmawi
Iran – One country, two governments
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, November 28
While you will never hear a government official admitting this, it seems as if the nuclear negotiations that began in Geneva last year divided Iran into two separate regimes. The first, the legal and formal one, is headed by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his entourage. The second, which de facto rules the Islamic Republic, is the amorphous entity that came to be known as P5+1: the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. While not a formal representative of the European Union nor the United Nations, the P5+1 was somehow given the power to shape Iranian domestic policies. This is seen, for example, in the P5+1’s decision to adjust the sanctions on Iran: it decides how much oil Iran will be allowed to export and import, it oversees Iranian customs and border control, it regulates Iran’s access to global markets and international banks, it discerns which Iranian businessmen travel abroad, it requires Iranian government officials to report to it regularly, and much more. Without noticing, a foreign power has trickled into the Iranian regime and assumed control of its most delicate decision-making processes.
It is time that Iranians wake up and realize that their country might be under the aegis of a foreign power for years, if not decades, to come. – Amir Taheri
Netanyahu admits to his political incompetence
An-Nahar, Lebanon, December 5
The political crisis that beset the Israeli government is the biggest proof of Netanyahu’s political bankruptcy.
His decision to dismiss two of his senior ministers shows that he was not capable of promoting his party’s right-wing agenda with moderate politicians sitting in his coalition. Thus, the results of the upcoming Israeli elections will change the face of the Israeli political arena.
This is because if Netanyahu returns to power again, he will no longer do so as the leader of a center-right coalition, as he did in the last two campaigns. Rather, his famous Bar-Ilan speech of “two states for two peoples” will be replaced by an extremist and nationalistic rightwing government, which will reject any concessions with the Palestinians and constantly work to build new settlements. If this would be the case, the so-called “peace camp” in Israel will see its final demise. The upcoming elections might symbolize the beginning of the end of moderate Israeli politics, and the rise of a strong nationalistic right that dictates the country’s policies for years to come. – Randa Haihar
The Islamic State’s funding conduits
Dar Al-Hayat
, London, November 30
The success of the Islamic State in conquering vast territories in Syria and Iraq raises, again, the question of its sources of funding. Its success in mobilizing fighters, building command centers and purchasing arms, points to a wide array of financial sources available to the organization, both internal and external.
Internally, oil reserves have served as a consistent source of funding, with the taking over of numerous wells and reserves by fighters. Another source, “protection royalty,” is levied on each household wishing to be protected by IS militiamen. Witnesses say that this tax often increases when a household refuses to send one of its sons to fight for the organization. Externally, however, not much has been known regarding the State’s sources of funding. Recently, however, suspicious movements of foreign Arab surgeons were noticed around Iraq’s borders. This suggested that the organization has begun harvesting organs of injured combatants and prisoners in order to sell them abroad. With close coordination with Western health regulation, the fighters and their medical recruits are able to engage in organ trafficking that yields immense amounts of money. Lastly, the State’s border with Turkey has become notoriously known for the smuggling of drugs, and it is very likely that much of the organization’s external money originates in the sale of narcotics. – Naseer al-Hussun
King Abdullah appoints new guards for Al-Aksa Mosque
Al-Dustour, Jordan, December 6
Sheikh Omar al-Kaswani, the overseer of the Al-Aksa Mosque, confirmed that King Abdullah gave orders to increase the number of Jordanian guards in the Al-Aksa Mosque as quickly as possible. The Sheikh added that 75 new guards were appointed and should be making their way to Jerusalem in the next few days, in order to enhance the oversight of the Jordanian Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Holy Sites on what is happening at the mosque. Today, there are approximately 450 employees in Al-Aksa who are employed by the Jordanian government, including some 40 in the West Bank who were denied entrance to Jerusalem by Israeli authorities, under security claims. Al-Kaswani concluded that there are not enough guards today to protect Al-Aksa from the Israeli occupation, following several arrests made by the Israeli authorities. – Hamdan al-Hajj