Hot off the Arab press 409174

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

Supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement protest against the Sunni prime minister. (photo credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)
Supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement protest against the Sunni prime minister.
(photo credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)
A century-old emotion
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, July 9
The Lebanese government has been functioning without a president for over a year, and political tensions in the country are at an all-time high. Last week, Michel Aoun, leader of the Christian Free Patriotic Movement, called his supporters to take to the streets against the current Sunni government. Indeed, thousands of supporters massed in Beirut’s streets and scuffled with the army as they tried to break through the parliament gates.
While I am sensitive to political tensions to Lebanon, I am unclear as to what Aoun is trying to achieve. The Christian leader, who has been enjoying the fervent support of Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah, has been holding the government hostage. He has been busy threatening most of his colleagues to comply with his requests, suggesting that he will drag the country into political turmoil if not. This most recent clash came as a response to the government’s refusal to appoint his son-in-law as army general.
During the Lebanese Civil War, Aoun was among the first who chose the violent path and assumed control over the interim military government. He has not shied away from supporting Hezbollah, despite the latter’s violating of Lebanon’s sovereignty and involvement in the Syrian Civil War. With all of this in mind, it is hard for me to believe that Aoun is acting in Lebanon’s best interest. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Aoun has built his success on quarter-century- old sectarian emotions. His call to mobilize the masses against the government seems to me like nothing short of a preparation for a coup. – Naila Tawini
Prince Saud’s wise diplomacy
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, July 10
Amid the tumultuous upheavals in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s stability and security stand out in the region. The kingdom has cleverly steered the wild seas of global politics, using well-crafted and thoughtful diplomacy. Behind all of this success was Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister of 40 years, who died this week. His death represents nothing short of a new era for the kingdom. Faisal served under four different kings, and was known for his astute thinking and clever politics. He knew that diplomacy is like a game of chess, and as such was not afraid to patiently think through his steps in order to defeat an opponent. He promoted Riyadh to a position of leadership, not only in the region but also in the world. More recently, Saudi Arabia – again, under his leadership – succeeded in gathering unequivocal global support for its military operation in Yemen.
The United Nations Security Council was quick to back the Saudis and delegitimize the claims made by the Houthi rebels in Yemen. On the global scale, Saudi Arabia proved to be valuable in the negotiations with Iran, and has been regarded by Washington as a key player in the region’s stability. All of these achievements would have not been made without Faisal’s wise statecraft. His death comes after a long period of suffering, during which he never gave up his love for his country. There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia lost one of its greatest treasures. – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
Deal with Iran – now or never
Al-Arabiyah, Saudi Arabia, July 12
As the nuclear talks with Iran reach their final phase, they begin to resemble a cheesy Hollywood movie. For months, barely any progress was made between the two sides. Time moved slowly and the plot was boring.
Now, as the announced deadline is nearing, all of the agreement’s major details must be agreed upon at once. Just as in an American film whose main hero fights to save the world before it is doomed, Secretary [of State John] Kerry is, all at once, using magic tricks to get the Iranians on board.
The difficulty with these negotiations is that they are not only dealing with sensitive topics, but are also taking placing under the eyes of fierce oppositions in both Tehran and Washington. The militants in Tehran and the Republicans in Washington don’t want to see an agreement reached, as it will weaken their political influence in their respective countries. Iran therefore is placing redlines that must not be crossed, while the United States threatens that it “will not wait for Iran forever.”
At this point, all options are still left on the table. It is difficult to determine whether the talks will succeed or not. But one thing is absolutely clear: the region will be very unstable without an agreement. With the American presidential elections looming in the air, it is highly unlikely that Washington will devise a new foreign policy on Iran once negotiations end.
In the meantime, a political vacuum will dominate the region. Iran will do whatever it can to increase its spread and influence in the region, while Washington will continue its war to weaken everyone, including Tehran, from afar. Things might begin taking a better shape in the spring of 2016, once a new American president will be elected, but even then nothing is guaranteed.
Both sides have a lot to lose by not sticking to this agreement. It is now or never. – Asaad Haider
New kind of terrorism
Al-Masry al-Youm, Egypt, July 12
The recent terror attacks in both Tunisia and Kuwait require a careful reconsideration of how we fight terrorism.
The perpetrators in both cases were ordinary Arab individuals, with no ties to an Islamic organization.
No one could have known that they would carry out attacks against innocent civilians.
In Tunisia, 39 tourists were killed by the hands of Saifuddin Rezgui, who went on a shooting rampage on a private beach resort. He was a bartender at a local nightclub and a student at the University of Kairouan.
He had numerous interactions with professors, students, and even foreigners.
The case was no different for a young Saudi named Fahed Alkabaa, who bought a plane ticket from Riyadh to the Bahraini capital of Manama, and then set out on a bus to Kuwait. There, he entered a local mosque and blew himself up in the middle of a crowd of worshipers.
Both of these men were ordinary individuals. Neither raised any suspicions or doubts in the eyes of their country’s security agencies. As I looked at their respective photos in the newspapers yesterday, they resembled each other. Two young men that look like the average person on the street. Terrorism no longer has a brand name or an affiliation. It can come at any time, from anyone. Our security agencies are busy fighting what are historically perceived as terrorist organizations.
These are important to monitor, but the threat today is a whole lot bigger. – Sliman Jawda