Hot off the Arab press 411997

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

A man fires a weapon as he dances during a wedding celebration near the western Saudi city of Taif, last week. (photo credit: MOHAMED AL HWAITY/REUTERS)
A man fires a weapon as he dances during a wedding celebration near the western Saudi city of Taif, last week.
Al-Anba, Kuwait, August 7
In Iraq, for decades now, the killer and the killed are both Iraqis. In Syria, the killer and the killed are both Syrians. The same goes for Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia. In all of them, the killer and those killed are two of the same blood.
If this is not enough for us to stop and ask ourselves what has become of the Arab nation, then perhaps a cold-hearted economic consideration should: It will take billions of dollars to restore our region. In Syria, over $400b. will be necessary to rebuild cities and infrastructure following the current war. Similar amounts will be necessary for Arab countries that have been affected by the Arab Spring elsewhere in the region.
As Arabs and as proud inhabitants of the Gulf, it is our duty not only to accept but also promote any initiative that calls to end the fighting in our region. The Iranian initiative to end the war in Syria, to be presented to the United Nations this week, is no different. Instead of finding faults in the idea and criticizing the Iranians, we must seek to embrace it.
We have spent years gathered in negotiation rooms, with no progress done. It is time for the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League to come together in search for a solution to the crises in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and even Lebanon and Palestine. We must extinguish the fire, before it spreads to us all.
– Sami al-Nassaf
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, August 8
Syria now seems to be in the midst of two battles: the first – a diplomatic one – led by Russia, and a second – a military one – headed by Turkey’s [President] Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These two fights will likely shape the direction in which Syria is headed in upcoming years.
On Turkey’s end, Erdogan is not satisfied with any political solution that leaves [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in power. He recently agreed to join the international coalition against Islamic State, in order to fight the Kurds of Syria and overthrow the regime in Damascus.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is determined to see Assad stay in power. He provided Damascus with weapons and munitions, and seeks to refocus that international attention away from the removal of Assad himself. Not too far from there, Tehran has been providing Assad with a steady flow of military supplies, crucial for the regime’s survival.
Erdogan is naïve to believe that Islamic State is a by-product of the Syrian regime. The removal of Assad from power will not disarm the thousands of jihadists fighting in Syrian territory. It will simply attract their attention to new areas and countries in the region.
In the midst of the battle between Turkey, Iran, and Russia, the conflict in Syria is likely to only get worse.
Unfortunately, it is also likely to spread further into the region.
– Samih Saeb
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, August 6
Egypt’s new Suez Canal officially welcomed ships this week, following a lavish inauguration ceremony that included speeches from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and a host of foreign leaders. The new canal – dug in a record time of less than a year – allows, for the first time ever, for two-way traffic between the north and south entry points of the canal.
However, not everyone in Egypt was celebrating the achievement this week. The Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi’s sworn opposition, was quick to criticize the project and accuse the president of “stealing” the idea from ousted president Mohamed Morsi of the Brotherhood.
This public criticism goes to show the wide abyss that exists between the two sides, and how the Muslim Brotherhood refuses to come to terms with Sisi’s reign.
Historically, the Brotherhood has been very successful in mobilizing the masses against the ruling regime.
This was easily seen in the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
Not anymore. Today, the Brotherhood has lost its power.
The Egyptians view the new canal as a source of national pride that represents a new era for Egyptian democracy, not as a presidential or governmental initiative. For the millions of Egyptians, an insult on the canal is an insult on all Egyptians. The Egyptians are tired of civil wars and political turmoil. The Brotherhood’s battle over the new Suez Canal is doomed to begin with. Egypt is ready to reopen for business and put the Arab Spring in its past.
– Abd al-Rhaman Rashed
Al-Jazeera, Saudi Arabia, August 9
The American political arena is witnessing an emerging star: an Indian-American politician by the name of Bobby Jindal. Currently the governor of the State of Louisiana, Jindal has become an extremely popular figure in American politics, announcing his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election just several weeks ago.
I am telling you about Jindal because, other than the fact that he is an extremely gifted and accomplished individual, he is also one of several prominent Indian figures in American politics. He is joined by Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and journalist Fareed Zakaria of CNN. And all of them have gotten to where they are – other than through their own talent – with strong support of the newly emerged Indian lobby in America.
Why is this important? Because it reminds us that political lobbies play a huge role in shaping American policy, and nearly every interest group in the world holds lobbyists in Washington. To date, however, we Saudis and residents of the Gulf have failed to influence the American political system in any shape or form. The question, then, must be asked: How is it that Saudi Arabia, a country with such long and close ties to the United States, has failed to establish a lobby in the United States? How is it that we failed to influence American policy-makers to make decision in favor of their allies in the Gulf? How is it possible that every esoteric group sends paid representatives to Washington, and not us – a long-standing ally of America in the region?
– Ahmad al-Farajj
Compiled by The Media Line