Hot off the Arab press 391560

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

A municipal police officer in Nice watches screens in the video surveillance control room on February 9. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A municipal police officer in Nice watches screens in the video surveillance control room on February 9.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
French authorities step up surveillance of Muslim Brotherhood
Al-Shorouk, Egypt, February 13
Is the Muslim Brotherhood going to pay the price for the recent wave of Islamist violence? The answer seems to be yes.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was quoted as saying, “Muslims should not be blamed for the actions of extremists;” yet in closed conversation, he insisted that authorities come down not only on jihadist terror cells, but also on Brotherhood groups throughout the country. Valls is referring to impoverished neighborhoods of major cities, which include large populations of immigrants, most of whom are Muslim.
These decisions come in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks that took place in France last month. Several weeks ago, the French Constitutional Council passed a resolution allowing the state to revoke French citizenship from those accused of terrorist activity. The Brotherhood might have kept a low profile in Europe over the last couple of years, but it seems the negative publicity generated by Islamic State pushed authorities to change their attitude. While the Brotherhood is paying the price for others’ actions, it surely has issued its fair share of inflammatory rhetoric against the West. – Imad al-Din Hussein
Does Lebanon need to respond to Islamic State?
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, February 10
Last week, Amman decided to respond to Islamic State’s killing of a Jordanian pilot by following the notion of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” executing Islamic State prisoners in its custody. This immediately raised questions in Lebanon, where several Islamic State prisoners are held as well.
While there is no doubt that the horrific murder of the pilot could go unpunished, Lebanese opinions regarding Jordan’s response were mixed. Lebanon, which has been led by an interim government for nearly a year, already had a few of its soldiers kidnapped and killed by the group; it did not retaliate, however. An anonymous government source explained that without a strong government, Beirut is not able to restore its national prestige and retaliate against Islamic State. Moreover, the organization is holding several Lebanese soldiers in captivity, and any provocation will result in their immediate deaths.
Despite public opinion, as seen on social networks, the Lebanese government has opted not to react thus far. Will this last for much longer? – Muahmmad Namer
Syria’s biggest budget yet
Al-Hayat, London, February 7
Five years into its civil war, the Syrian government approved its largest-ever budget this week. Since the beginning of the war, the Syrian GDP has plunged by more than half, with the Syrian pound suffering a devaluation of over 450 percent. These negative developments have left its citizens in dire conditions; approximately half now live below the poverty line.
Government banks are on the brink of collapse, as most Syrian businessmen have pulled their accounts out of the country. Finance Minister Ismail Ismail claimed that the government’s top priority is to “fight terrorism and restore safety” to the country, and that the new budget includes such programs. Both he and Prime Minister Wael Al-Halki called upon Syrian businessmen to return their investments to Syria, to support the national struggle. – Udnan Karima
The mother of all illnesses
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, February 11
Dubai is hosting a governmental summit on education, with speakers and distinguished visitors from throughout the Arab world. I have claimed this many times before, and I say it again now: Education is the mother of all illnesses in the Arab world. A bad educational system is worst than no educational system at all, because it deludes us into thinking we are doing well when we are not.
Given our faltering educational system, it is no surprise we suffer from the highest rates of road accidents, highest violations of human rights, highest subsidies on foods and highest socioeconomic inequality. Yet very few people are working to change the status quo in the Arab world. We must allocate our resources for education; we must spend money on educational projects, and not on high-rise buildings.
I hope the Dubai summit will motivate the Gulf countries to finally invest in the right thing: a strong foundation for our future generations, which we can count on to take the Arab world a step forward. – Abdul Rahman al-Rashed
Does the press pose a threat to the government?
Al-Jarida, Kuwait, February 13 The Arab media is facing some struggles at this time.
One issue: In recent years, the number of Arab satellite television stations has reached the hundreds, with some becoming very influential among certain sectors of the population. While this is seemingly helpful in promoting freedom of expression, it is also dangerous – as most of these channels provide their own political commentary, despite very little understanding of issues related to national security and the region at large. The result, sadly, is the polarization of opinions in the Arab world, as each side adheres to an extreme and follows the news that best suits their camp. As a result, most Arabs do not have a news source – whether state-owned or independent – that can provide them with an unbiased picture of what is happening in their world. – Abd al-Latif al-Manawi is an American nonprofit news agency covering the Middle East.