Hot off the Arab press 403097

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

Supporters of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak wave to him before the verdict is read on May 9, in the retrial of a corruption case. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH)
Supporters of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak wave to him before the verdict is read on May 9, in the retrial of a corruption case.
Israeli media expresses support for Mubarak
Al-Watan, Egypt, May 9
When ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison just several weeks ago, the Israeli media covered the events in rather great detail; reminding the audience that several of Morsi’s close affiliates are still facing impending death sentences. This week, however, when news came of president Hosni Mubarak being sentenced to three years in prison for corruption, the Israeli newspapers were quick to announce that Mubarak will be set free.
Both the leading papers and evening television newscasts proclaimed that since Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, have already been incarcerated since the 2011 revolution, their time in prison will be counted retroactively, allowing their release. This reveals an interesting sentiment in Israel in favor of Mubarak, who was considered one of the closest Arab leaders to the Israeli regime.
While the former president’s fate remains unclear in Cairo, the Israeli media seems to have decided what it wants. Without a doubt, they support Mubarak. – Muhammad al-Leithi
Hezbollah playing a risky game
Al-Urdoni, Jordan, May 6
This month, Lebanon will mark one year without a government, after its sectarian parties failed yet again to elect a president. But the biggest concern of the Lebanese people should not be directed towards their parliament; rather, it is rather Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has been playing a risky game by choosing to become involved in an extra-territorial war in Syria. It has surpassed the authority of the central government in Beirut and, using its military power, pledged allegiance to Iran. This is a dramatic and unequivocal testimonial that should not go unnoticed. By becoming involved in the Syrian civil war and fighting on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah is clearly stating that its sectarian allegiance comes prior to its national one. It cares more about a Shi’ite minority in Syria than it does about the well-being of its nation.
Moreover, from here on out, Iran’s involvement in Lebanon will not cease to grow. In fact, some believe that Tehran’s true interest in the region is to control Lebanon, and not Syria; the latter just serves as the means to reach Beirut.
Lebanon must wake up and put an end to Hezbollah’s risky game. It must work to maintain its sovereignty at any cost, or face to risk of becoming the next Yemen. – Khairallah Khairallah
Camp David and the Iran deal
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, May 9
US President Barack Obama recently extended an invitation to the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – to visit the White House and Camp David later this month. While the White House cited the need to “enhance the partnership between Washington and the GCC,” it is clear to all what Obama is trying to do: Convince his Arab allies that the agreement with Iran is not that bad.
The Gulf states, however, have long been disappointed with Obama’s lax attitude towards Tehran. They are upset by the fact that the negotiations have focused thus far only on Iran’s nuclear program; not demanding it cease its attempts to stir up the region in general, and the Gulf in particular. In the GCC’s eyes, therefore, the agreement being consolidated these days is more a source of concern than of reassurance.
To make things worse, the Arab leaders know that Obama will not be presenting them with far-reaching assurances in Camp David. If the US president truly wants to guarantee the stability of the region, he must provide the Gulf with defense guarantees; Washington must signal Tehran that any attack on the Gulf will be answered with a joint attack of the Gulf armies, backed by the US.
This is the only way to ensure that Tehran’s mullah regime does not make use of the nuclear deal to extend its influence in the region. – Abdulrahman al-Rashed
No prospects for Syrian opposition summit
Al-Zaman, Iraq, May 6
As the number of civilian deaths in Syria passes the 220,000 mark, according to the UN, prospects to end the ongoing onslaught in the country seem grim.
In November 2012, several Syrian opposition groups joined forces in Qatar to form the National Coalition for the Syrian Revolution. This Arab-backed group remains, to this very day, the only stable force that can potentially replace President Bashar Assad’s regime. However, its legitimacy is still very much contested by the international community, including several Arab states.
During the last Arab summit on the Syrian crisis, held in Egypt in March, many of the coalition members were barred from participating. US Secretary of State John Kerry was even quoted as saying that “any transition of the regime in Damascus will have to be coordinated with Assad himself.” This week was no different, as the Arab League’s secretary-general, in his meeting with a coalition leader, announced that Cairo will not be able to host a Syrian opposition summit, citing “security concerns.”
Yet the coalition remains vigilant; one of its leaders, Haitham al-Maleh, claimed in an interview with Al- Zaman that “Assad’s days are limited,” as are those of Hezbollah, Tehran and Russia. Maleh claimed that despite lax international backing, coalition members are working closely to plan a political transition in Syria.
He concluded that despite the heavy price paid by the rebels, the Syrian people will emerge victorious, and the current regime will fall when people least expect it. – Mustafa Omara