Hot off the Arab press 437616

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

Donald Trump. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Donald Trump.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Trump and Le Pen go hand in hand with Islamic State
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, December 13
Two presidential candidates in two different countries have adopted very similar strategies: Trump in the United States, and Le Pen in France. Both are making use of racist rhetoric to incite against minorities in their respective countries. Today they lash out at Muslims, but tomorrow they may very well stand up against blacks, Latinos, Jews, or Asians.
Those who claim that Trump’s and Le Pen’s remarks are dangerous only to Muslims get it all wrong, because the rhetoric of both directly feeds the ethos of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which seeks to create a “West versus the rest” mentality. News reports of the shameful statements coming out of Trump’s and Le Pen’s mouths regarding Muslims traveled easily around the globe, even reaching the Arab world. They achieve nothing, but push more Arab individuals to the extreme. In a world of increasing polarization, we don’t need more of that.
We must remember that the biggest victims of terror are Muslims themselves. Just look at who is fleeing Iraq and Syria, and who is sacrificing his and her lives in Mosul, Palmyra, and Basra. Today, Trump and Le Pen’s remarks might not seem dramatic. But in the long run, they fuel hatred and exacerbate radical sentiments. The two candidates in their respective countries are providing justification for the next generation of terrorists. Their rhetoric does not improve our situation, but only makes it worse.
In many senses, Trump and Le Pen could easily go hand in hand with Islamic State. – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
A united Syrian opposition?
Al-Hayat, London, December 5
Four years have passed since the Syrian revolution broke out. By now it is clear that the Syria we used to know doesn’t exist anymore. The true question remains: What will become of Syria in the future? Can the opposition truly form a viable alternative to Bashar Assad’s regime? For the first time since the crisis began, Assad is no longer able to defend himself, despite all of the support he receives from Russia and Iran. Throughout Syria, young men are stopped at checkpoints on the street and asked to join the army to fight alongside Assad’s troops. The Syrian president is determined to show his close ally, Vladimir Putin, that his forces can provide the necessary ground support to complement Russia’s air campaign. Otherwise, Moscow’s efforts will be futile and armed rebels will simply return to the bombing sites. It is estimated that some 80,000 soldiers are needed by Assad, who is doing everything he can to stay afloat.
Amid all of these developments, a Syrian opposition summit opened in Riyadh this week, with the aim of achieving unity among all Syrian opposition fractions.
This certainly provides a glimmer of hope for an alternative regime. The parties participating in the talks identified mutual objectives regarding the departure of Assad, and agreed on the development of a roadmap that would put Syria back on the right track. This is the first time Western-backed opposition groups sit down around the same table with moderate armed fractions that are currently unrecognized by the West.
Through the courageous leadership of the Gulf States, they are finally presenting a viable alternative to the current regime. Only time will tell if there can, indeed, be a united Syrian opposition. These are just baby steps, but they are a solid beginning. – George Samaan
Occupation forces plant knives
Al-Jazeera, Saudi Arabia, December 14
More and more testimonies from Palestinians reveal that Israeli soldiers have been deliberately planting knives in Palestinian cars crossing Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank. Drivers are often held for interrogation, only to discover that they have been falsely accused of possessing weapons they had never before seen.
These allegations come on top of several video clips released in previous weeks, depicting occupation soldiers concealing knives next to dead Palestinians.
Checkpoints have become notorious among the Palestinian public not only for the disruption they cause for freedom of movement but also for the new risk they pose regarding false incarceration. Majid Rimawi, from Ramallah, survived such an encounter, and spoke to Al-Jazeera’s correspondent in the West Bank about his terrifying experience.
In Hebron, Zidane Sharbatli filmed the last moments of a young Palestinian who was executed by the Israeli forces on Shuhadah Street. Sharbatli witnessed one Israeli officer handing a knife to another and ordering him to place it by the young man’s body. Another Palestinian, Ahmed al-Uzza, was held in an Israeli prison for seven days straight after being charged with the possession of a knife. He finally succeeded in proving that the knife was not his and was subsequently released.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported earlier this week that the Israeli Army killed 114 Palestinians since the start of clashes, which erupted in late October of this year. – Al-Jazeera staff
Saudi Arabia launches Islamic Alliance against terror
Al-Nahar, Lebanon December 15
Saudi Arabia announced the formation of an Islamic military alliance of 34 countries to fight terrorism, with joint headquarters located in Riyadh.
Within only 72 hours of the announcement, numerous states joined the bloc — including Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Egypt, and Turkey.
Many more countries expressed their interest in joining it in the near future. In an official press release, the Saudi government explained that the new military alliance is going to work together to prevent “all forms of terrorism and brutality from spoiling the Arab land and violating human dignity and basic rights.”
Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi defense minister, said that the new Islamic military force will target any terror activity in the region while coordinating its operations with the major powers, such as the United States and the UK. When asked if the organization will take action against Islamic State, the crown prince responded: “It will target any organization that seeks to destroy us”.
The formation of this new alliance comes in the shadows of yet another coalition led by Riyadh; that operating against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has been under significant American pressure to intervene in the Syrian war to take action against Islamic State. Earlier this week, Riyadh hosted a large summit of Syrian opposition leaders, with the aim of forming a transitional government that would assume power once Assad is removed.
All of these developments undoubtedly suggest that Riyadh is interested in exerting its power in the region, particularly at the expense of Tehran, which was left outside the new pact. There is no doubt that the nuclear agreement undermined the regional balance of power, and the Saudi king is determined to put his kingdom in a leadership position – not only in the region, but around the world. – Al-Nahar staff