Hot off the Arab press 448968

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

The Syrian town of Marat Numan in Idlib province hosts a local soccer tournament on March 19 (photo credit: KHALIL ASHAWI / REUTERS)
The Syrian town of Marat Numan in Idlib province hosts a local soccer tournament on March 19
(photo credit: KHALIL ASHAWI / REUTERS)
Putin to Khamenei: I am the Caesar, my friend
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, March 19
Much has been said and written about Russia’s decision to withdraw most of its forces from Syria, but very little has been said about Tehran’s reaction to this move. Iranian Foreign Minister Zariff, during his recent visit to Australia, tried to downplay the importance of this development by claiming that the world “must wait and see what happens now” in Syria. Similarly, a senior adviser to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria “will not lead to any overall change in the cooperation between Iran, Russia, and Syria.”
However, it is safe to assume that the mullahs are not very happy with this decision. Lebanese sources affiliated with Iran did not hide their discontent with the Kremlin’s decision to pull out of Syria and leave Hezbollah militants and Revolutionary Guards forces fighting on their own. They had hoped, in vain, that Moscow would continue maintaining its momentum and completely crush the remaining Syrian strongholds in the country. According to the same sources, Iranian officials spent the last few days “begging” their Russian counterparts to remain in Syria at any cost.
In return, Tehran vowed to sign multi-billion dollar weapon deals with Russia and coordinate oil export prices. However, the Kremlin maintained its firm stance and decided to proceed with its plan. What we are witnessing now are the mullahs in Tehran sitting and waiting to see what happens, unsure how to act next. Meanwhile, Putin proved that he is the strong man in the region. He reminded the Iranians that despite their recent political successes, it is he, Putin, who is the Caesar in the region. – Ahmad Ayash
The Kuwaiti-Iranian Initiative
Al-Anba, Kuwait, March 20
Kuwaiti media revealed yesterday a secret request sent by the Kuwaiti government to the Iranian regime, asking the latter to promote an initiative that would end hostilities in the region. According to the proposal, Tehran would set forth a plan to restore friendly relations between the countries of the region, in order ensure that no foreign powers – including the United States or Russia – intervene to change the status quo. In return for its leadership role, Iran would be expected to take confidence-building steps and stop its armed intervention in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. All of these obstructions led to a loss of Arab consensus and to a growing rift between Sunni and Shiite states.
With this new plan, all sides would put aside their past hatreds and come together to prevent the region from falling into complete turmoil. There is no doubt that among the biggest benefactors of such a plan would be the Iranian people themselves, who will be able to restore their old ties with their Arab brothers.
The flow of tourists, commodities, culture, and businesses can only bode well for the Iranian economy.
The proposal is also very logical: each state should devote its resources to improving its own civil society, instead of weakening that of others. This way, Arab governments can also address the growing demands and needs of their people. An old Arabic proverb says that “what happened is already in the past.” This is the logic that Kuwait hopes to deploy here: The Arab world has already suffered enough destruction, sectarianism, and racism. There is nothing we can do about what has already been done. Instead, it is time to look to the future, and ensure that we have in store for tomorrow is better. – Sami al-Nassaf
Hanan al-Horoub: Best teacher in the world
Al Jazeera, Qatar, March 20
The Global Teacher Prize, a luxurious international prize given to only a selected few teachers around the world each year, was awarded to Palestinian educator Hanan al-Horoub.
Horoub, who teaches at a girls’ school in El-Bireh, just outside of Ramallah, gained her teaching diploma at the Al-Quds Open University. Since, she worked to create a new educational curriculum that takes into account the daily lives of Palestinian children living under ongoing Israeli occupation, and the need to give them a hope for a better future.
Her program achieved remarkable results, allowing students who have been exposed to gruesome acts of torture, shootings and killings to overcome their shock and fear. She incorporated computer- based learning and technological platforms in her classroom, giving students a space to share their emotions and experiences with peers from around the world.
Horoub symbolizes Palestinian resilience. Growing up in a refugee camp herself, she never gave up on hope for a better future for herself, her family and her society. Like her students, she experienced firsthand aggression by the barbaric occupation soldiers, who enjoy harassing young Palestinian schoolchildren.
Yet she believes that hope should not be lost.
Using the cash prize she won, totaling $1 million, Horoub plans to launch a scholarship program for young Palestinian students interested in pursuing a degree in education. According to her, only through great role models, such as teachers, will Palestinian children grow to fulfill their dreams. – Al Jazeera staff
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