Hot off the Arab press 413434

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

Cutouts of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are held by supporters waiting in line outside a campaign town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, (photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS)
Cutouts of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are held by supporters waiting in line outside a campaign town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire,
(photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS)
Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, August 19
We often talk about the surge in radicalism throughout the Arab World, but fail to look at what is happening in the West. In both the United States and the United Kingdom – the world’s leading democracies – political radicalism has been on the rise.
In America, the presidential elections gave rise to Donald Trump, whose politics could be considered too conservative even for the Republican Party itself.
His rhetoric is bellicose and antagonistic, and he does not shy away from launching personal attacks against his political opponents. His success, however, should not come as a surprise: the Republican Party has been continuously moving to the right, with the Tea Party becoming a growing electorate within it.
At the same time, the American Left also experienced radicalization. Bernie Sanders, a leading Democratic candidate, is an avid liberal calling for the implementation of extremely progressive policies. His worldview is rooted in a socialist agenda, and he is determined to break the American capitalist system.
Not too far from there, in Europe, similar trends are taking place. In the United Kingdom, Jeremy Corbyn – a socialist leader and an antiwar activist – has been gaining widespread popularity in his attempt to win the leadership of the Labor Party. His politics may very well take the party from Britain’s center to its left-most margins. Similarly, in Greece, recent parliamentary elections gave rise to the Syriza Party – which is also known as “The Coalition of the Radical Left.”
What we are witnessing today across the world is increasingly polarized and radical political systems. We must, therefore, remember that even democracies are susceptible to change, and that radicalism is not just a problem in the Middle East.
– Eyad Abu Shakra
Asharq Al-Awsat, London, August 19
If the history of our region has taught us one thing, it is that sweeping a problem under the carpet doesn’t make it disappear. In fact, it achieves quite the opposite: making the phenomenon grow in strength and size.
This is the case today with Libya, where dozens of extremist terrorist groups are vying for control over the war-torn country. They have been growing and multiplying each and every year, while the West preferred to turn a blind eye to Tripoli.
Along the way, warning signs calling for international intervention in Libya were bounteous. They included an attempt to kill an African ambassador in Tripoli, the storming of the US consulate in Benghazi (which resulted in the killing of an acting American ambassador), the kidnapping of the Libyan prime minister, and several other attacks against foreign interests.
The United States attempted to conduct a smallscale military intervention in Benghazi, only to be left unaided by the European Union. In Brussels, European leaders assumed that if they try really hard to ignore the problem, it would simply disappear on its own. This has been the European policy toward the Middle East for years.
Only recently did a change in this stance occur, when the Italian prime minister suggested targeting Libya as part of the international coalition against Islamic State. However, this might be too little and too late.
The EU has a strategic interest in bringing stability to Libya, its neighbor across the Mediterranean, but has failed to do so time and time again. It is now facing a severe problem of illegal immigrants coming from northern Africa. Intervening in foreign countries, particularly militarily, is never desirable. But European leaders have failed to read the political map. They wanted to remove themselves from the issue and got, instead, a new Somalia in their backyards.
– Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
Al-Masry al-Youm, Egypt, August 21
During a recent visit to Damascus, I discovered a small sign placed on my hotel bed. It read: “Help us conserve water and detergent. Please place this card on your bed when your sheets do not need washing. Your bed will still be made.” In another room, at a hotel in Morocco, I noticed a copper-framed placard, above the bathroom tap, reminding guests that every single drop of water matters. A few years ago, in one of my meetings at the US State Department, I noticed a sign hanging on the bathroom wall. It asked visitors to turn off the lights upon leaving the restrooms. Following one of my meetings, I noticed the assistant secretary leaving the bathroom, and putting his notes aside to turn off the lights.
We are yet to adopt such public commitment to energy conservation in Egypt. Several years ago, Electricity Minister Muhammad Shaker announced that Egypt could maintain a surplus of electricity if every household shuts down one single light bulb. He explained that Egypt could avoid building a new power plant with the simple help of every citizen.
His proposal is no different from what I’ve seen in Damascus, Tangier and Washington. The only difference is that in Egypt, we fail to rationalize these public calls. We fail at launching media campaigns, or explaining why it is that conservation matters. We don’t create urgency.
We must learn to explain to the people what practical measures they can take to conserve energy. Only when they know what to do and understand how it benefits them and their nation will people behave rationally on their own.
– Sliman Jawda
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