Hot off the Arab press 448227

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

KURDISH PEOPLE’S Protection Units (YPG) fighters walk near graves of fellow fighters during a visit to a YPG graveyard in Qamishli, Syria, on March 11. (photo credit: REUTERS)
KURDISH PEOPLE’S Protection Units (YPG) fighters walk near graves of fellow fighters during a visit to a YPG graveyard in Qamishli, Syria, on March 11.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
 Was Hezbollah not a terror organization before today?
ASharq Alawsat, London, March 13
The Arab League officially declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization last week, and the world media roared and soared. What is this entire outcry about? We all know that Hezbollah has been a terror organization since its inception. Since its very first day in existence, Hezbollah aimed at hijacking Lebanon from the Lebanese people and using their resources – both political and military – to promote its own aims. In the Arab League meeting last Friday, only three countries rejected the proposal: Lebanon, Iraq, and Algeria. I will leave my criticism of them for another time. But the important point remains: The absolute majority of Arab countries – 19 governments, to be precise – gave Hezbollah an unequivocal vote of no confidence, letting the world know that they completely reject everything it stands for. So far, Arab governments disdained Hezbollah but kept it in the quiet. No Arab leader dared say a word when Hezbollah militants assassinated Lebanese politicians, or when Nasrallah stupidly dragged Israel into a war by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. In Syria, about half a million civilians have been killed so far – much due to Hezbollah’s involvement in the war.
Hezbollah is, and always has been, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Arab League finally made clear Nasrallah’s true colors. There is no need for public outcry; the Arab world is simply saying out loud what everyone was thinking all along.  – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
Let’s not experiment with the Syrian Refugees
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, March 8
It is hard to digest these statistics, but the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is believed to have reached 2 million, when Lebanon’s entire population is 4 million people. In other words, every third person in Lebanon today is a Syrian refugee. This requires immense resources, particularly international ones, to deal with the problem. Unfortunately, what we are witnessing today is a complete refusal on behalf of international bodies and agencies to assist the Lebanese government.
Just like the Palestinian refugees of 1948, the Syrian refugees are sent to temporary camps without the proper living conditions they need, let alone any hope for a better future. And just like the Palestinian refugees, they will grow new generations of hopeless and frustrated youth, who will resent their host country and act against it. I am not even talking about the possibility of the Islamic State reaching these frustrated individuals and infiltrating new countries in the Middle East. Have we learned nothing from history? We cannot afford to experiment with the Syrian refugees by hoping that everything will simply be okay. We must rehabilitate those who lost everything they had in life, including their loved ones. In a recent donor conference in London, some $11 billion were raised to assist Syrian refugees. This is an important step, but it is not enough. Most of this money will likely not even reach the Lebanese government. The United Nation, as well as world governments, must step in and help. Today it might be Lebanon’s problem, but tomorrow, it will be that of the entire Western world. – Naila Tawini
Palestinian democracy – gone with the wind
Masarat, Ramallah, March 8
A year ago, the Palestinian Central Committee voted on a decision to halt all security cooperation with the Israeli government and authorities. A year has passed, and the decision, of course, has not been implemented since. We all know that political bodies must study their decisions carefully before making them. However, once a decision is made – particularly on public record – it must be implemented. However, the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas decided to follow its own plan of action and ignore the Central Committee’s decision.
It reached out directly to the Israeli prime minister, and made clear that it will do anything possible to end the stabbing and car-ramming attacks carried out by Palestinian youth. In return, it simply asked the Israeli Army to cease its incursions into Palestinian cities and to provide the PA several million shekels it was owed by the Israeli tax authorities. The Israelis responded in complete dismissal. The Prime Minister’s Office spoke about limiting – not stopping –Israeli forces’ activity in merely two cities in the West Bank, and about transferring just several thousand shekels of Palestinian tax money. Abbas, undeterred, continued to court the Israelis.
He passed a PLO resolution calling to maintain close security ties with Israel – again, in complete violation of the democratic decision taken by the Central Committee. His main reason for doing so, of course, is his desire to stay in power. While the Palestinian president might want to keep his relations with the Israelis close to ensure his survival, to the average Palestinian all of this does not matter. Daily humiliation, attacks, and sieges under the occupation push people to take extreme measures, including terror. The illusion of the “two state solution” has come to an end. The occupation continues to encroach on Palestinian lands and control Palestinian lives. It is time that the Palestinian leadership, under President Abbas, comes to terms with this reality. – Hani al-Masry
No, Mr. Obama!
Al-Hayat, London, March 14
Allow me to address the American President directly: No, Mr. Obama! We are not “free riders” as you claim.
We Saudis have held a strategic alliance with your country for over 80 years. We provide you with intelligence that saves American lives. We protect American interests in the region. We fight the spread of the Islamic State in our backyard just so it doesn’t reach yours. We are the biggest source of humanitarian relief efforts for refugees throughout the region, particularly in Syria. We cooperate with American businesses, universities, and organizations.
We inject billions of dollars into your economy in different trade deals – in energy, security, technology, and services. In your meeting with our leader, His Highness King Salman, you recently exalted the Kingdom for being a source of “security” and “stability” in the Middle East. You publicly acclaimed the King’s leadership role in the region. Now you blame Saudi Arabia for being a “free rider”? What are you thinking? Might this public statement come as a result of your obsequiousness and flattery to Iran? Did you put aside your ally of over eight decades for cheap political gains with a regime that views you and your country as its biggest enemy? That funds activity against your citizens? That undermines your influence in the region? I’m sorry, Mr. Obama, but we are not the free riders you paint us to be. We surely err, like any other country, but we also make amends. Most importantly, we have stood loyally by your side for years.
And despite your disappointing claims, we will continue viewing the American people as our closest allies. – Turki bin-Faisal, former Saudi ambassador to the United States
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