Hot off the Arab press 441403

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

A SYRIAN girl waits with her family, who say they have received permission from the Syrian government to leave the besieged town, as they depart after an aid convoy entered Madaya, this week. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A SYRIAN girl waits with her family, who say they have received permission from the Syrian government to leave the besieged town, as they depart after an aid convoy entered Madaya, this week.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
King Abdul-Aziz and Iran
Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, January 8
There is a real problem of ignorance surrounding Saudi Arabia, not only among Western journalists, but also among us Arabs. This was particularly evident in the reaction to the verdict made by a Saudi court to execute convicted al-Qaida terrorists who operated in the kingdom. The British press decided to align with Tehran’s worldview, and focused its reporting exclusively on the fact that among the convicted felons was an Iranian-born Shi’ite sheik. The Europeans followed suit, and all of the sudden the verdict became an all-out war between Sunnis and Shi’ites in the region. Saudi Arabia was presented as a Shi’a-hating country. Not a single word was said about the hundreds of Shi’ites living in the kingdom, working as civil servants, economists, journalists, businessmen and university professors.
These events remind me of the belated Hamza Gouth, Saudi Arabia’s first ambassador to Iran, who served between 1947 and 1964. In his memoirs, Gouth recalled the moment he was appointed ambassador by King Abdul Aziz. The two were sitting on a plane en route to a meeting, when the king asked Gouth if he would accept the nomination.
Then he looked him in the eye and added: “Our relations with Iran have deteriorated, but this was never our intention. Now, with the war over, we must restore the ties between our two peoples.”
Inspired by the King’s words, Gouth accepted the position. Indeed, this always was, and always will be, Saudi Arabia’s stance on Iran. There is no problem between Saudis and Shi’ites. The problem is between Saudis and Khomeini. Yes, there are always Sunni extremists in the fringes, but they do not represent that official state policy. – Mashari al-Zaidi
Hezbollah is starving Syria’s children
An-Nahar, Lebanon, January 9
Hezbollah’s attempt to hide the atrocities it committed in the Syrian city of Madaya will not avail. News reports and images have emerged in recent days out of the besieged city, depicting citizens begging for food.
Seven months under the hands of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah fighters have brought about complete destruction to the besieged city. According to some evidence, children have turned to eating soil and dirt, since even the once-edible leaves are covered in snow.
Hezbollah used to pride itself as a resistance movement, fighting for the Palestinian cause. Since, it seems to have lost its raison d’être. Its men are involved in the Syrian war, serving as puppets of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is aware of his organization’s decreasing popularity. The secretary’s images, once hailed and glorified, are being ripped and burned in public demonstrations. To salvage his organization’s image, Nasrallah is attempting to evoke the Shi’ite demons. He is accusing Arabs of mistreating the Shi’ites, in an attempt to deflect attention.
But this will not work. Hezbollah played an active role – if not the most important role – in the starvation of the children of Madaya. Any attempt to hide these atrocities will fail. It has become a hated organization that claims to represent the Lebanese people, while fighting under an Iranian flag. – Ahmed Ayyash
Israel’s domestic threat
Al-Hayat, London, January 9
Israel is not with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, nor is it against it. At this current day and age – and given the turmoil in the Arab world – all it is interested in is sealing up its borders and protecting its territory. Unlike the open borders of Europe, Israel’s borders are hermetically sealed. They are fenced and regularly patrolled, providing for maximum security and control. Indeed, it seems like today Israel faces no real risk from abroad. The Occupied Territories remain under control. Even if the current “instability” turns into an intifada, the brutal hands of the Occupation will be able to meet the challenge.
But the real risk posed on the Jewish state comes from within. Israel’s Arab citizens are no longer an insignificant minority. They are growing in power and size, and are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in. The same discrimination and neglect that bred radical Islamists in France and Belgium will also breed radical Islamists in Israel’s Arab cities and towns.
Years of marginalization, mistreatment and abuse have already created fertile hotbeds for terrorism and radicalism. Against this threat Israel cannot build fences. Against this risk, Israel cannot seal its borders.
The turbulence in the Arab world might be an outside threat with which Israel can now deal. But its inner threat – the domestic one – is not going anywhere – Hzem Saghia