Hot off the Arab press 456917

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

Pro-government protesters hold a poster of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and shout slogans against journalists in front of the Syndicate of Journalists, in Cairo, on May 4 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Pro-government protesters hold a poster of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and shout slogans against journalists in front of the Syndicate of Journalists, in Cairo, on May 4
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al Jazeera, Qatar, June 7
The recent talks regarding Egyptian-brokered peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians have, again, brought Egypt to the headlines. One cannot help but wonder why it is that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chose to promote a cause that so many before him have failed at promoting, including the United States, the European Union and several Arab countries.
The only explanation that comes to mind is Egypt’s domestic politics. Sisi, who is completing two years in office this week, has been facing growing criticism at home. The economic situation in Egypt, which has always been bad, has been deteriorating even faster in the last few years. Anarchy in the Sinai Peninsula is growing rampant, providing prime conditions for terrorist hotbeds. Tourists have almost completely disappeared from Cairo’s landscape. Given all this trouble, more and more of the president’s close officials, as well as the public at large, are beginning to question his strategy. By resurfacing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and serving as a mediator, Sisi hopes to restore Egypt’s days of glory as a regional leader. He hopes to embed himself in the political landscape of the Middle East and tie the fate of Egypt to his own fate.
Interestingly enough, it seems like these offers are nothing more than a PR stunt. The Palestinian Authority has its eyes set on the Paris Conference, where it has more potential of singling out Israel than it does in Egypt. The same goes for Palestinian national reconciliation. Hamas and the PLO have no interest in reaching any reconciliation, since national unity serves against their political interests.
In other words, we should not get excited. What we are witnessing today is nothing but yet another manipulation of the Palestinian cause for the sake of domestic Arab politics. – Muamin Besiso
Asharq al-Awsat, London, June 4
There have been some positive developments in Syria in recent weeks. For the first time since it launched its military intervention, Russia has agreed to facilitate a political deliberation process between the Syrian opposition forces and Bashar al-Assad’s regime. At the same time, it might be too soon to celebrate. Russia is still determined that Assad stay part of the equation.
And so long as this is the status quo, there is no real hope for a peaceful agreement between the two sides.
The Russians are quickly learning their lesson in Syria. Despite using the most advanced weapons available in their arsenal, they have yet to achieve their goals. Their real test was the city of Aleppo, which they vowed to liberate yet still haven’t managed to do so.
Today, Syria is divided into thirds: One third is controlled by the opposition, one third is dominated by Islamic State, and the remaining third is under the control of the regime. Despite making gains on the ground, Assad’s forces are not likely to bring about any drastic change to this power balance. So long as the fighting continues, all sides will continue incurring heavy costs, particularly in lives. The only real alternative is a peaceful, negotiated solution, and both the opposition and the regime begin to understand this more and more.
But this option remains off the table so long as Moscow is unwilling to make real concessions and eliminate Assad once and for all. – Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Al-Bayan, Saudi Arabia, June 8
Iran has long been proven to sponsor terrorism throughout the world at large, and the Middle East more specifically. It has been supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, a US-designated terrorist organization.
Its influence reached the Arab Gulf, where it is has been arming Houthi militias in Yemen. It recently announced its plans to renew aid to Islamic Jihad in Gaza. It is involved in the fighting in Iraq and Syria.
But what not many people know is that when it comes to Iran’s foreign policy, there are certainly more politics than meet the eye. While wreaking havoc in the region, Tehran has also maintained close – and often very covert – ties with Western governments.
The overthrow of the shah in 1979, for example, was a move closely coordinated with president Carter’s administration. Recently declassified CIA documents even reveal a willingness of the first supreme leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, to engage in diplomatic ties with Israel. The recent nuclear deal is yet another example in which the Iranian leadership played the pragmatic card in one hand and the radical card in the other.
Teheran’s strategy was always convoluted and complicated, something along the lines of “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Unfortunately, very few are aware of this reality. – Turki al-Dakhil
Al-Quds al-Araby, London, June 1
The stories coming out of the city of Fallujah are nothing short of a myth or a fable. They are made up by different interest groups and proliferated through the Western media. We’ve heard of the need to send in forces to free the city from armed militias. We’ve heard that the Russian air campaign is meant to allow women and children to escape the city and reunite with their husbands. We’ve heard that as a result of the taking of Fallujah, Islamic State’s last stronghold will fall.
The truth is, however, that Fallujah is a besieged Iraqi city that refuses to succumb to its occupying powers.
The situation there is grave: killing, looting, mass starvation and horrible health conditions. But this is not the doing of Islamic State. This is the result of a deliberate agenda of the Iraqi government to eliminate the city, which has been a stronghold of opposition against the central government in Baghdad. Ironically, the very liberators who claim to lift the siege from the city are those terrorizing its citizens. This includes American ground forces, Iraqi soldiers and Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Throughout history, the city has been besieged more than three times. Each time, its citizens refused to capitulate to their occupiers’ demands. Today is not much different. Fallujah has no one single occupier. It is a battleground in which each side tests its weapons and demonstrates its power. It is a besieged city full of innocent civilians who, despite their horrible living conditions, refuse to capitulate to narrow political interests. – Haifa Zankana
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