Hot off the Arab press 402394

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

Actress Salma Hayek (front, third from right) poses with her fans ahead of the screening of her film ‘The Prophet’ in Beirut on April 27. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)
Actress Salma Hayek (front, third from right) poses with her fans ahead of the screening of her film ‘The Prophet’ in Beirut on April 27.
Salma Hayek visits Lebanon
, Lebanon, May 1
The streets of Bshari, a northern town in Lebanon with a population of roughly 100,000 people, came to life last week. For a change, this wasn’t because of a security concern or yet another incident of political upheaval. Rather, it was because of a visit paid to the city by Salma Hayek, a renowned Mexican actress of Lebanese heritage. Hayek arrived on her first-ever trip to Lebanon last week in order to promote her new film The Prophet, based on a book written by the famous Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran, bearing the same title. Hayek explained her decision to produce the film as a part of the exploration of her Lebanese heritage and the desire to reconnect with her grandfather, who admired Gibran’s work. Hayek paid tribute to Gibran by visiting Bshari, the poet’s birthplace and home to a museum documenting his work and life. She also made a stop at Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in order to visit a Syrian refugee camp and meet with children. In her interview with An-Nahar, she described her visit as “an emotional journey to her past” that allowed to her to finally connect with her ancestral home.
– Moriel Jalekh
A new era for Saudi Arabia
Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia, May 2
Large and rapid changes have been experienced in our region over the course of recent months and years. Above all, these transformations prove the vitality of Saudi Arabia – a source of power and stability – to the Arab and Muslim world. This position of authority would have been on the brink of extinction, if it weren’t for King Salman’s reshuffling of the royal line of succession, and the appointing of his nephew as the new royal heir. There is no doubt in my mind that this transformation signifies a new era for Saudi Arabia. It has the power to push us away from our weaknesses and toward a position of greater regional power. The king’s shift already proves to the world just how strong the kingdom is, and how capable it is of replacing dysfunctional political arrangements in place with new ones. Unlike the countries surrounding it, Saudi Arabia is a durable nation with a robust political system. This transformation will allow the Kingdom to once again reclaim the leadership of the Arab world – from Egypt and Libya to Syria, Iraq and Yemen. We have the resources: the money, the men, the spirit, and a widespread public satisfaction with our leaders. This is a new era for Saudi Arabia, and our kingdom shall bring a new order to the entire Arab and Muslim world.
– Nabil al-Bakiri
Beware of Iran
Al-Hayat, London, April 25
All of us, and particularly Saudi Arabia, must be wary of Iran. If my predictions are correct, the upcoming weeks will see a radicalization in Iranian actions and an attempt on behalf of Tehran to minimize its losses through provocations. For over a decade, Tehran has been enjoying consistent gains in the region: It established a presence in Iraq following the American invasion, it extended its influence into Syria, it has stirred up trouble in Lebanon, and – most recently – it has supported the Houthis in Yemen. But this once-undefeated regional influence is slowly dwindling, after other regional actors began challenging its power.
The Iranian regime will soon notice this, and after it comes to realize the shattering results caused to it on the ground, it will seek to minimize its losses. It is for this reason that we can expect Tehran to go to great lengths to prevent a Saudi victory in Yemen. It is for this reason that we can expect Tehran to reach out to Riyadh – whether secretly or publicly – with various peace offers. However, we should all be wary. There are no free meals, and we must remember that Iran’s intentions are not benign. While Saudi Arabia wants to see a unified Yemen, Iran will not hesitate to sacrifice the poor country, only to serve its greater regional interests.
– Jamal Khashkiji
Egyptian FM : Cairo is not planning a ground operation in Libya
Al-Hayat, London, April 28
Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shkury refuted the claims that Cairo is planning on sending its troops to Libya, a country suffering significant political upheaval, with which Egypt shares a long border.
Libya has seen several of its main cities, including Tripoli – its de jure capital – fall to the hand of extremist Islamic rebels. The central government is struggling to fight the militias, since an arms embargo was placed on the country in UN Security Council Resolution 1970, passed in 2011. Ever since the besieging of Tripoli, Cairo has been a fervent advocate of the Libyan government, demanding that the embargo be lifted and the government be allowed to protect its cities. Shkury stated that he expects Egypt to achieve certain progress on this front at the Security Council. Asked about his upcoming meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Juddah, Shkury explained that the three countries are coordinating their efforts to combat the growing terror in the region and to increase security cooperation. The minister reiterated Egypt’s support of Palestinian statehood, and reaffirmed his strong efforts to bring the issue to the UN. He denied the claims that Cairo accepted an American request to freeze all international maneuvers in favor of the Palestinians until after the nuclear negotiations with Iran are concluded.
– Raghda Dargham