Hot off the Arab press 451133

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

An employee walks on newspapers after protesters attacked the office of Saudi-owned newspaper ‘Asharq al-Awsat’ in Beirut, in this April 1 file photo (photo credit: REUTERS)
An employee walks on newspapers after protesters attacked the office of Saudi-owned newspaper ‘Asharq al-Awsat’ in Beirut, in this April 1 file photo
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, April 7
Last week, dozens of people stormed the Beirut offices of Al-Sharq al-Awsat, protesting against a caricature printed by the London-based newspaper just several days earlier.
Published on April 1, the cartoon depicted the Lebanese state as an “April Fool’s” joke, and provoked widespread public anger among the Lebanese public.
It mocked the Lebanese flag and national symbols. It insulted the Lebanese people.
The commotion inside the newspaper’s offices was filmed and uploaded to the Web, showing the protesters turning over tables and chairs and throwing papers in the air.
Let me start from the end: this behavior is harmful and dangerous. It serves neither our political cause nor our personal interests. It is our duty to defend freedom of speech in our country, even when we disagree with what is said. Too many times we paid a high price when others took our freedom of speech from us in this country; we must not do so to others.
At the same time, this insult will not go by unnoticed.
It will not discourage the Lebanese people from standing tall and proud. We will continue fighting for our country, or identity, and the Arab collective to which we belong. We might be experiencing a long period of political instability, but our role in the region should not be undermined.
It is time we restore our old ties with countries we have grown apart from – particularly those in the Gulf, who own Al-Sharq al-Awsat. We might not agree with the criticism that is thrown against us, but diplomacy, not violence, is the way to serve our cause. – Naila Tawini
Al-Hayat, London, April 4
King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia embarked on a historical state visit to Egypt last week.
Recent months have seen growing tensions between Riyadh and Cairo, surrounding the latter’s reluctance to join the Arab coalition against the Islamic State, led by Saudi Arabia. In addition, Riyadh, a major provider of assistance to Egypt, has been increasingly concerned due to the economic and political instability in Cairo. However, this visit sends an important and unequivocal message of reassurance to the Egyptian people and the Arab world, reaffirming the King’s commitment to President al-Sissi and his government. Saudi Arabia will not let Egypt fall apart.
In fact, it cannot afford to so. The fates of the two countries are linked together – in security, trade, and finance.
As the Arab world continues to disintegrate into pieces, Saudi Arabia and Egypt remain among the last standing beacons of hope for a better future in the Middle East.
The king’s visit reiterates this message. These great powers might have some disagreements, but their historical alliance and their regional influence brought tied their fate together, along with that of the entire Arab world. – Khaled Dakhili
Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, April 10
The last few days marked a historical development in the relations between the Gulf States and Egypt.
Cairo announced that it will hand over two islands in the Straights of Tiran to Saudi Arabia, and the latter announced its plan to build a bridge connecting the two countries, in return.
This bridge holds much more significance than merely allowing citizens to travel between the two respective countries by land. It also symbolizes the commitment to enhance the commercial, cultural, and social ties between Egypt, on one hand, and the Gulf region, on the other.
Few have noticed, but in addition to King Abdulaziz, several other Gulf representatives arrived in Cairo for the signing of agreements as well. Among them were the Kuwaiti speaker of the parliament and the Emirati national security advisor. Both joined the Saudi King to express their commitment to the development of ties between the Gulf and Egypt.
King Abdulaziz’s visit has been the longest state visit made by a Saudi king to Egypt in history, and it included meetings with the Egyptian parliament, Al-Azhar University officials, the Coptic Patriarch, and President al-Sissi. It is enough to read the King’s press release upon his arrival to Cairo, to understand the importance of this visit to the bilateral ties between the two regional powers: “Egypt has a special place in my heart; we Value our relations; may God protect it.” – Turki al-Dakhil
Al-Masarat, Ramallah, April 5
During the negotiations leading up to the signing of the Oslo Accords between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the early 90’s, King Hussein of Jordan gave a candid interview to an Egyptian newspaper. In the interview, the King claimed that Israel is not interested in giving up any of the territories it occupied, including the West Bank.
“If Israel were interested,” he claimed, “Jordan would have been the most natural partner; but since Israel did not agree to hand over the West Bank to the Jordanians, it is highly unlikely that it would agree to do so to a hostile Palestinian entity like the PLO.”
Today, almost two decades later, the belated King’s remarks could not be truer. With no viable political solution in the horizon, and given the continued brutal Israeli occupation, it is evident that the Israelis were never genuinely interested in relinquishing control over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel’s strategy is to waste time.
It is waiting for the perfect opportunity to get rid of the Palestinian population, which would allow it to complete the task of annexing their lands. In the meantime, the Occupation continues to deny equal rights to Arabs, while ignoring the existence of a Palestinian population.
In the wake of this despair, some Palestinian commentators have recently raised the drastic idea of handing over the West Bank to the Jordanians and Gaza to the Egyptians. This is a destructive idea. This idea itself is dangerous and in any event, neither Jordan nor Egypt would agree to it. However, our criticism of the Palestinian leadership, no matter how dysfunctional we think it is, must not make us lose hope for a just solution to the Palestinian problem. We must not throw away dozens of years of sacrifice and suffering because of internal political debates. This will not lead us anywhere. – Hani al-Masry
For other Media Line Stories: