Hot off the Arab press 456456

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

Gazan Palestinians watch a television broadcasting the speech of US President Barack Obama in Cairo, in June 2009 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Gazan Palestinians watch a television broadcasting the speech of US President Barack Obama in Cairo, in June 2009
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, June 1
Historically, three main considerations guided America’s foreign policy in the Middle East: the concern for Israel’s security, the protection of crucial oil resources in the Gulf, and the disarming of any aspiring nuclear power in the region. However, since US President Barak Obama stepped into office in January of 2009, Washington’s stance on many of these issues significantly changed.
Obama attempted to appease the Arab world and worked tirelessly to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.
In doing so, he raised serious concerns about Washington’s commitment towards these three considerations.
The real question now, however, is not what Obama did, but rather what the foreign policy principles of the next president will be. The Middle East is certainly becoming a tougher and tougher neighborhood.
Although Obama promised to disengage from the Middle East, the United States is on the verge of entering a new war in Syria and Iraq.
Will the next president continue Obama’s doctrine? Will he or she withdraw from the region completely, or enter it with full force? Judging from Donald Trump’s public statements, the Republican presidential nominee seems interested in turning Obama’s policy on its head and re-engaging in the region. As for Hilary Clinton, it seems as if she will keep a foreign policy more in line with that of Obama.
Regardless of who lands in the Oval Office these upcoming elections, the situation in the Middle East will continue to deteriorate in the next couple of months.
There are many reasons to be jealous of whoever becomes the next American president, the Middle East dossier is not one of them. – Abd al-Rhaman al-Rashed
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, June 1
Many concerns were raised in the past few weeks regarding the appointment of the neo-fascist politician, Avigdor Liberman, as Israel’s new defense minister.
Most of these concerns revolved around a new war in Gaza. Interestingly, little has been said about what Liberman seems to be planning beneath the surface: instating Muhammad Dahlan as the next chairman of the Palestinian Authority.
There are a number of reasons to believe this. First, Liberman met with Dahlan several times in the past.
Second, the two men even share a close acquaintance, Martin Schlaff, who visited Tel Aviv just a day after Liberman’s appointment. Third, the United Arab Emirates, where Dahlan is currently serving as a private political adviser, has renewed, along with Saudi Arabia, talks about the Arab Peace Initiative. In other words, all of the clues seem to be pointing in the same direction.
The real question is what is Liberman’s benefit in all of this? I would assume that he is thinking of a way to weaken Hamas and change the status quo in Gaza. By instating a new Palestinian leader, he hopes to bring an end to the PLO’s unpopularity in the Arab street, which would allow Dahlan to extend his influence from the occupied West Bank to the Gaza Strip as well.
What Liberman fails to understand is that the sentiments of the Palestinian public have changed.
It is very unlikely that Abbas’s successor will be another moderate. Palestinians are fed up with the brutality of the occupation, and after several decades of no improvement in their condition, they will likely vote as radically as they can. The moderate Palestinian leadership is viewed as a collaborator with Israel.
Palestinians on the street are sick of being sold out for narrow political interests. They want an independent state in whatever realistic means possible. Dahlan is certainly not one of them. – Saleh al-Naami
Al-Bayan, Saudi Arabia, June 6
Something in the rhetoric surrounding Islam has changed. Between the American presidential race and the increasing flow of migrants into Europe, more and more individuals have started speaking up about Islam.
Every store clerk is an expert on migration, every bus driver is an expert on religion and most of the population, both in America and Europe, now consists of so-called philosophers and political scientists. Sadly, it is those that yell loudest who are usually heard, and in both places these are conservative bigots.
Luckily, there is also reason for hope. The election of Sadiq Khan as mayor of London is a huge milestone for Muslims around the world. For the first time ever, Europeans look up to an individual holding public office – who, despite being Muslim, looks, acts, and thinks just like them. They are coming to understand and even embrace moderate Islam. Their stereotypes and preconceived notions of the religion are suddenly challenged and questioned. The Islam represented by Khan is a new type of Islam, one that embraces both traditional customs and Western thinking. It acknowledges the importance of religious piety alongside civic engagement and the rule of law. It allows for democratic debate and educated discussion. Most importantly, it provides an inspiration of how refugees who are now arriving at Europe’s shorelines can integrate to become active members of European society without posing a risk to its integrity and intellect. It is the answer to the rampant radicalism throughout the Middle East, which seeks to hijack Islam and speak on its behalf. – Turki al-Dakhil
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