Hot off the Arab press 407134

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

US President Barack Obama hosts a working session of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council at Camp David in Maryland last May. (photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Barack Obama hosts a working session of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council at Camp David in Maryland last May.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Are there secrets left in negotiations with Iran?
Asharq Alawsat, London, June 17
The media has been full of reports of alleged Israeli spying on the nuclear talks with Iran. The leaked information, attributed to the American and Iranian negotiation teams, has left many in the international community quite shocked. In fact, the far-reaching concessions the US supposedly agreed to were made available to all, including those who oppose the agreement in Congress. It is because of these leaks that US President Barack Obama invited members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to Camp David just two weeks ago, where he attempted to quell their anger.
The question we are left with now is: Are any secrets left in the negotiations? Reports suggested that Israel broke into Swiss hotel computer networks to access the information, and that these networks are now protected. But this is not quite possible; the negotiation teams are not dumb enough to allow computers in rooms hosting sensitive discussions. It is much more likely that the information was leaked by one of the team members and given to the Israelis in order to abrogate the success of the talks. In fact, all the talk about computer networks might have just been a decoy used by the Israelis to divert attention away from the snitch.
Whether there are more secrets left in the negotiations with Iran or not, only time will tell. Meanwhile, it appears that thus far, the Americans and Israelis are very good actors. – Abdulrahman al-Rashed
The religious state and the civic state
Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia, June 17
We are often confronted with the questions: What is the difference between a religious state and a civic one? Which form provides better governance in the Arab world? The answers are quite simple: Religious states are ruled and governed by theocrats, no matter of which religion, claiming to be agents of God on earth. They either view themselves as divine, or work with their clergy to enhance their authority as leaders. In medieval times, for example, Europe witnessed many bloody wars between theocrats. The Muslim world, similarly, is certainly not void of this phenomenon.
To this very day, some Arab leaders view themselves as holy figures. In Iran, the supreme leader is viewed as a jurist who is in charge of the guardianship of the people.
But Islam does not call for the theocratization of the state. When the Prophet Muhammad’s successor, Abu Bakr, was appointed khalifah (deputy or steward), he called: “O people! I have been put in authority over you and I am not the best of you. As long as you see that I am following righteously, keep helping me, and if you see me even a bit out of it, correct me.” Our writings stand in complete contradiction to the notion of omnipotent human leaders; anyone who reads the history of Islam over the centuries will easily discover this.
What Islam really calls for is accountable worshipers who follow their faith out of religious devotion, not out of law and state policy. Civic states are the only way of doing so. – Muhammad al-Sheikh
Kerry and Zarif’s Nobel Peace Prize
Al-Mustaqbal, Lebanon, June 17
Recently, the US’s Iranian lobby began pushing for US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for the nuclear talks. The US and its European allies might very well reach an agreement with Tehran soon, as both sides have an interest in making the talks work. The Obama administration – in light of Islamic State’s rise, the Syrian civil war and what we are witnessing in Yemen and Iraq – is determined to reap some success in the international arena; the Iranians are anxious to get the sanctions lifted.
No sane person would come out against such an agreement, which serves both sides well. However, we should also not be mistaken: There is a difference between halting Tehran’s nuclear program and ending its expansionist policy. The agreement only focuses on nuclear armament, and abandons Iran’s sinister involvement in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. For years, Iranian policies have been aimed at stirring up the region and introducing instability to its surrounding countries.
Kerry and Zarif should win a Nobel prize if, and only if, one condition is met: The agreement covers Iran’s regional policies. – Khairallah Khairallah
Ergodan is still in the driver’s seat
Al-Hayat, London, June 16
A famous anecdote recalls that when Mark Twain’s death was reported in an American newspaper, the author was quick to reply in a letter to the editor that “the reports of my death has been greatly exaggerated.”
This joke is used by many American politicians to dispel rumors surrounding them.
It turns out that it is not only useful in the US, but also in Turkey: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been eulogized by the media both at home and abroad, is not going anywhere. His AK Party still has the upper hand, and will have the last say in Turkish politics. The party might have lost some of its electoral power, but the opposition parties are very unlikely to form a viable alternative coalition. Some even suggest that the outcome of this election is nothing but Erdogan’s attempt to expose the weakness of his political rivals in running the country.
Not only will a new government not be able to last, but it will also provide the AKP with exactly what it needs: a chance to redesign its strategy, get rid of old faces and bring in new leaders; it will also allow it to meet the limit of three consecutive terms in office.
If my analysis is correct, we should expect the AKP’s involvement in Turkish foreign policy to decrease significantly.
Erdogan will let his successors do the dirty work, watch the economy plunge and get ready for the next election round. – Jamal Khashoggi