Hot off the Arab press 404360

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

Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz speaks to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot at the Western Wall in February. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz speaks to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot at the Western Wall in February.
Another round of Israeli aggression?
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, May 22
Since taking office as IDF chief of staff earlier this year, Gadi Eisenkot has been promoting the theory that the next war between Israel and Hezbollah is “inevitable,” and that the army should do everything it can to prepare for it. At the same time, however, he is asking to do “everything we can” to prevent a war.
In order to reconcile these two contradictions – preparing and preventing – Eisenkot is working on two parallel fronts. The first is to intensify IDF training, particularly with lessons learned from the fighting in Gaza. On the second front, Eisenkot is counting on propaganda. He ordered the formation of a new division focused on communicating with the Western media and propagating Israel’s narrative. Just last week, this unit provided The New York Times with information on Hezbollah’s current rocket arsenal and violations of UN resolutions, as well as its adaptation of Hamas’s tactics of using human shields.
What is dangerous in all of this is the fact that the Israeli army, under its new leadership, is laying the ground for another war. It is seeking international legitimacy not only to invade Lebanon, but to also bring severe civilian casualties without having to bear responsibility for them. With these facts in mind, it seems as if the danger of another Israeli aggression is more realistic than ever before.
– Randa Haidar
The problem with Iran is not the nuclear deal
Al-Mustaqbal, Lebanon, May 22
This week, US President Barack Obama publicly declared his commitment to protect the Gulf states from Iran. This is a good development, but not a sufficient one; what Obama ought to do is publicly demand Tehran cease its attempt to shake the region.
One of the few, if not only, positive developments during the recent summit at Camp David was the frank conversation between Obama and the Gulf leaders; for the first time ever, they candidly discussed Iran’s search for power. Both sides agreed the Islamic Republic has been a negative force in the region: It opposes a political solution in Yemen, it refuses to bring down Bashar Assad’s rule in Syria and it is preventing the election of a new president in Lebanon. Above all, it is treating Iraq as if it were its colony or backyard, intervening in domestic policies and exacerbating sectarian strife.
In the end, the real problem with Iran is not the nuclear deal. Rather, it is Tehran’s aspirations – its illusion that it is a dominant regional power, one that can exert power beyond its borders.
Unfortunately, Obama’s deal with Iran is not a means to an end, but an end itself. Concern for moderate Arab states and stability in the Middle East are not part of it. Sadly, the Americans – who don’t understand Iran – fail to see this. Once the sanctions are lifted, what will the billions of dollars made suddenly available to the mullahs be used for? Will these resources be used towards the eradication of poverty in the Islamic Republic? Or will they be invested to fuel sectarian wars around us? Unfortunately, the American administration is still unable to answer these simple questions.
– Khairallah Khairallah
Washington: islamic state is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, May 23
In an interview with the press, a senior US official provided a review of the fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi into the hands of Islamic State, claiming it is “unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.” He went on to explain that, unlike previous assessments, the organization is very “sophisticated” and “dangerous” – much more so than its predecessor, al-Qaida.
What the Americans are forgetting, and perhaps justifiably so, is that Islamic State is no less of a danger to them than it is to us. It has an army of some 20,000 troops alongside thousands of foreign recruits, which Iraqi forces – despite the magnitude of logistical support and aid they receive from the US – have not succeeded in stopping.
What America must remember is that back in the day, when al-Qaida was becoming notorious for its attacks on Arab lands, Americans were complacent. They viewed the problem as a regional one, and preferred to stay disengaged. Then came the attacks of 9/11.
Today, Islamic State is approaching the borders of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, aided by Iran. Syria has completely fallen, along with growing parts of Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, with even more displaced. Western recruits are free to travel back to their home countries. There are many things that could be said about this problem; that it is “regional,” however, is not one of them.
– Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Billions of dollars lost in Iraqi budget
Al-Hayat, London, May 18
As if the trouble inflicted upon it by Islamic State is not enough, the Iraqi Parliament is facing a serious difficulty these days: Understanding where all the money given to the previous government has gone.
Former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who stepped down from office last year following an overt American demand to change the Iraqi administration, has apparently severely mismanaged the country’s budget. The parliament’s finance committee is now discovering that during his eight years of rule, billions of dollars went missing from the budget.
Even when wages paid to thousands of civil servants falsely registered as state employees (who never showed up to work) are accounted for, large amounts are still missing.
What is most shocking is the magnitude of the loss: From 2006-2013, the Iraqi government was operating at a total budget of over $700 billion – a very significant amount for a country in such dire condition.
None of this money has gone toward improving infrastructure, health or security; what is most probable is corrupt politicians funneled the funds to their personal accounts in Iraq or abroad.
If this is the case, there is the risk that these people still enjoy access to the parliament or to politics, and will thus increase their influence in the country. At best, they have kept the money in Iranian or Syrian banks – aiding two regimes that have been very actively causing the situation in Iraq to deteriorate.
Walid Khadouri