Hot off the Arab press 389386

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

The son of Hezbollah soldier Abbas Hijazi, who died in an air strike in Quneitra, carries a toy weapon as he stands between the coffins of his father. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The son of Hezbollah soldier Abbas Hijazi, who died in an air strike in Quneitra, carries a toy weapon as he stands between the coffins of his father.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
How did we end up supporting Israel?
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat
, London, January 20
The surprising Israeli attack last week in Quneitra, targeting six Hezbollah men alongside an officer from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (whose presence there should be alarming to us all), was received with relative happiness in the Arab world. On social networks and even in printed media, Arabs seemed to rejoice over the death of the Islamist militants.
This represents a major shift in public opinion in favor of Israel, spurred by Hezbollah’s dirty involvement in the Syrian civil war and its brutality within Lebanon.
The once-admired organization has turned into a villain, following its involvement in the assassination of Sunni leader Rafik al-Hariri in Beirut and its direct involvement in defending Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has killed over 250,000 of his people thus far.
The respect for Hezbollah and for Iran that once dominated the Arab world is long gone.
We are now witnessing a shift in regional alliances. Do not confuse yourself: This should not, by any means, be interpreted as a love for Israel; at least not until a peace deal is achieved with the Palestinians. But it does reflect the notion that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” which allows moderate Arab regimes, for the first time ever, to align themselves with the Israeli interest.
The nuclear negotiations with Iran taking place these days will further shape these invisible alliances, depending on what kind of deal is signed. If a deal fails to block Iran from developing a nuclear capability, the dissatisfied Israelis and Saudis might find more shared interests than they think. – Abdul Rahman al-Rashed
Nasrallah harms National Lebanese Dialogue
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, January 19
In his recent speech, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah blasted Bahrain for oppressing its domestic Shi’ite demonstrations, calling it “tyrannical and oppressive.”
The result was a harsh response from Manama, backed by the entire Arab League. These remarks stand in clear contradiction to what we are so desperately trying to achieve today. Instead of fostering closer unity between the Shi’ites and Sunnis of our country, we are building enemies from within.
Nasrallah’s tongue-lashing against Bahrain is also directed towards other Gulf countries. Among them is Saudi Arabia, which has been a benevolent supporter of the Lebanese army and its fight against Islamic State in recent years. It is also home to thousands of Lebanese professionals, who relocate to the kingdom in order to find jobs and provide for their families at home.
Imagine the catastrophe Nasrallah’s words can bring on us. Imagine the consequences of driving Lebanon away from its loyal allies.
Nasrallah’s doctrine remains unclear. Perhaps now that he is immersed in the Syrian and Iranian crises, he decided to return and stir things up at home. Whatever it is, we must not let him interfere with our efforts for a national dialogue. We must not return, once again, to the language of threats. – Naila Tawini, Lebanese member of parliament
Egyptian army seizes Tahrir Square on revolution anniversary
Al Jazeera, Qatar, January 25
The Egyptian army decided to shut down all entrances to Cairo’s main Tahrir Square today, the day marking four years since the 2011 revolution that brought down president Hosni Mubarak. Streets leading up to the square were blocked by barbed wire and armed vehicles, as security forces prepared for massive demonstrations surrounding Mubarak’s anticipated acquittal, along with his two sons, on the last charges against them.
Government officials said Cairo police would not allow crowds to gather in any of the city’s main sites, and rallies would be immediately dissolved. Just yesterday, a woman participating in a demonstration held by one of the Egyptian socialist movements was shot and killed by policemen, following clashes with demonstrators at the scene.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – who had just returned from Riyadh, where he participated in King Abdullah’s funeral – urged restraint on all sides, promising to continue leading reforms promoting the social and economic well-being of the Egyptian people. – Al Jazeera staff
2015: The Egyptian Revolution revisited
, Lebanon, January 19
This week marks the four-year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. Four years of struggle and conflict have passed, during which several regimes rose and fell. The past year in Egypt has been particularly bloody, and hopes for a real change of regime are a matter of the past in Cairo.
Today, Sisi’s regime is here to stay. Internationally, it is endorsed and supported by most stable regimes in the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who want to deter their own citizens from following the Egyptian model and taking to the streets. Meanwhile, domestically, the Muslim Brotherhood has been completely eradicated, and its ideological nature has been revealed to the public.
Sisi’s government made good public relations materials of the regional turbulence – from the Syrian war to Islamic State in Iraq – in order to remind Egyptians that sometimes a benevolent dictatorship is better than an anarchical democracy. The rise of extremist Islamists throughout the Middle East reminds Egyptians again and again that their troubles are not the worst. They might have taken to the streets against Mubarak, but perhaps even his rule would have been preferable to that of religious fanatics. – Ali al-Rajal
The King of Hearts
, Saudi Arabia, January 23
Words cannot describe the grief and sorrow we all feel with the passing of our great leader, King Abdullah.
Our “king of hearts” was not only a great statesman and visionary, but also a charitable and loving human being who cared about the weak. He taught us how to love each other, and worked on preserving our national unity at difficult times – not by force, but with compassion.
Our king taught all of us the importance of dialogue – a dialogue of religions – and reiterated the urgency for peace in our world. He outspokenly condemned terrorism and showed the world the true and peaceful face of Islam.
He cared about the well-being of his people – old and young, men and women, individuals from all walks of life. He was admired not only by us in Saudi Arabia, but by all great leaders of the world.
Our king of hearts is dead, but his legacy will forever remain with us, his loving children. – Muhammad al-Sharif is an American nonprofit news agency covering the Middle East.