Hot off the Arab press 445342

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

Lebanon's former prime minister Saad al-Hariri addresses his supporters on the 11th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri, on February 14, in Beirut (photo credit: REUTERS)
Lebanon's former prime minister Saad al-Hariri addresses his supporters on the 11th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri, on February 14, in Beirut
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Obama is throwing Libya under the bus
An-Nahar, Lebanon, February 13
We must not underestimate the words of former CIA analyst Patrick Skinner, who claimed last week that Libya might become the next battlefield against Islamic State. These words were published just several days before US Secretary of State John Kerry met with over 20 state leaders in Rome to discuss the global fight on terrorism, after which he announced that the United States would not intervene militarily in Libya. What this means is that the United States is throwing Libya under the bus, and watching as radical Islam destroys it. Despite increased concern at the Pentagon of a new Islamic State hotbed at the gateway to Europe, the White House is determined to stay uninvolved. Just like in 2011, when NATO launched an air campaign against Gaddafi in Libya, Washington prefers to let its European allies do the dirty work for a change. But this is not likely to happen: the French, British and Italian foreign ministers already announced that their countries would refrain from acting in Libya. It is no secret that the Islamic State is trying to gain access to Libya’s oil fields and is already controlling significant territories from Sirte in the east to Misrata in the west.
These territories are only within an hour’s flight to most European capitals, meaning that terrorists could be – quite literally – knocking on Europe’s back door.
US President Barack Obama, however, who left Syria to the wolves, is doing the same with Libya. He is staying idle while Islamic State expands its control into a third continent in a row, and watches as Libya is thrown under the bus. – Rajeh Khouri
The Kurds – between Putin and Erdogan
Al-Ittihad, United Arab Emirates, February 12
What is the relationship between the Kurdish regions of southeastern Turkey, and the Caucasus region in southwestern Russia? Both have Kurdish populations terrorized by their respective governments. Turkey recently launched and aggressive campaign aimed at containing the Kurdish rebellion within its territory, especially after rebel leaders announced their demand for autonomy. There is no doubt that the Kurds’ struggle has been encouraged by the success marked by their peers in Iraq and in Syria. But Erdogan’s Turkey is not former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Iraq or President Bashar Assad’s Syria, and the Turkish president will do whatever it takes to preserve the territorial integrity of his country. This equation, however, began to change since the relations between Moscow and Ankara deteriorated, following the downing of the Russian fighter jet by Turkish forces. In retaliation, Moscow publicly supported the Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey, and called the Turkish authorities to “take the necessary steps to ensure an immediate halt of hostilities against the Kurdish population.”
The Kremlin called Turkish authorities to solve the problem through “political negotiations and frameworks.”
The Russian hypocrisy could not be more blatant. In fact, the Kurds of Turkey could have easily been replaced with the Kurds of Chechnya, whom Russia has been subjugating and targeting for years.
Putin simply doesn’t seem to see the Kurdish issue beyond the lens of embarrassing Erdogan. He is forgetting that before violence broke it in the region – in Syria, in Iraq, in Turkey or in Iran – it was Moscow that made use of brutal force to silence its Kurdish population.
No “political framework” was used to solve tensions between the central government in Moscow and that in Grozny. Now, with tensions between Russia and Turkey mounting, the Kurds have become players on each leader’s chessboard. Both leaders could not care less about the Kurdish cause. But both will continue manipulating them to achieve their political ends.
– Muhammad al-Sammak
Islamic State is not speaking on behalf of Muslims
Okaz, Saudi Arabia, February 14
Saudi authorities have recently confirmed sending warplanes to Turkey, in preparation for carrying out air-strikes against Islamic State. Saudi officials have also confirmed that the kingdom will not hesitate to send infantry forces to participate in a ground effort in Syria, if the air campaign will not be sufficient. By doing so, Riyadh is sending an important message to the world: Islamic State does not represent Islam, and must be subdued. This understanding was also echoed by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who claimed that Islamic State is truly Muslim only insofar as the Ku Klux Klan is truly Christian. Both movements spread their hate by propagating religious fanaticism and terrorizing those who oppose them. Both claim to speak on behalf of religions that have nothing to do with them. In other words, radicalism is not peculiar to Islam. It exists in all cultures and religions. There are always extremists in the fringes of society, working to take over the mainstream. Saudi Arabia finally amped up its participation in this war and declared that this can no longer be the situation. Islamic State has hurt more Muslims than any foreign power, and it is time to change the rules of the game. This is why Riyadh is ready to roll up it sleeves and fight to reclaim Islam back from its hijackers. – Turki al-Dakhil
Turning their backs to Syrian opposition
Asharq Alawsat, London, February 11
As the peace talks in Munich concluded with an agreement to “cease all hostilities in Syria” and enhance aid to civilians, questions still remain regarding the future of the war-torn country. Shortly after the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov clarified that the cessation of his country’s air-strikes will not apply to terror groups such as Islamic State and al-Nusrah Front, suggesting that the Russian forces will continue to bomb targets in Syria under the pretext of fighting Islamic State. But this isn’t even the real concern. The real problem is that keeping President Bashar Assad in power negates the entire point of holding peace talks. Again and again, the Syrian people were promised to see Assad step down and leave. At first, they were told he must finish his term in office.
Then they were explained that new elections could not be held, and that a political vacuum would lead to anarchy. Now, they are being turned down by the United Nations, which is giving Assad official legitimacy to stay in power. What has the Syrian opposition gotten from all of these talks? Other than destruction and killings of hundreds of thousands of innocents, it has seen nothing. I am dumbfounded by the idea that the world powers can simply look at Russia and Iran wipe entire ethnic populations off the map, and still sell the idea that they are promoting a “peaceful resolution.”
The international community is slowly but surely creating a new Syria that would suit Assad’s sectarian needs, and allow him to rule the country without dissent. This is not the solution. It is the core of the problem. – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed