Hot off the Arab press 460381

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walks alongside Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali, Rwanda on July 6 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walks alongside Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali, Rwanda on July 6
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli diplomacy in Africa
No consolation to the Arabs
Al-Arab, London, July 9
It may just be that the Arab world is still recovering from the tumultuous wave of political uprisings that struck it nearly six years ago, but it seems that not a single policy-maker in any Arab capital has realized the importance of diplomatic alliances.
Today, it is clear that one cannot discuss issues of national security in the Arab world, particularly in the Maghreb, without taking into consideration political developments in Africa. Israel and Turkey have been quick to come to this understanding. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned from a state visit in Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia only several weeks ago. Following in his footsteps, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded a visit to the Nile countries – Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia – only several days ago.
When did African partnership, once the cornerstone of Arab diplomacy, disappear from the Arab agenda? Today, Israel is expanding into regions of the world that were once reserved for Arab leaders.
Late president Gamal Abdel Nasser did not err when he supported African leaders in their struggle against British and French occupation. By doing so, he won their loyalty and secured a warm place in the hearts of African leaders for Egypt. Over the years, Africa aligned itself with Arab interests, especially the Palestinian one. This resulted in the decision to expel Israel as an observer in the African Union in 1978, as well as the declaration of Zionism as a racist movement in the 2001 Durban Conference.
Israel is expanding and building diplomatic outposts in the regions surrounding the Arab world. In the face of growing Palestinian internal division and strife, this development does not, and will not, bode well for Palestinian interests.
– Amin bin Masoud
Saudi fight against radical thought
Al Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, July 10
You cannot understand terrorism without understanding the wider context in which it evolves. Individuals radicalize after being exposed to radical narratives – at their homes, communities, social circles and media platforms.
This helps explain the inherent difference in style, rhetoric and agenda between an organization like al-Qaida and one like Islamic State. Osama bin Laden wrote and published hundreds of pages of Islamist thought that outlined al-Qaida’s agenda. It took him over a decade to recruit fighters and a strong base of supporters. What took him years to do, Islamic State achieved in only a few months. This is because it relied on blogs, forums and social media platforms to spread its viral agenda.
Interestingly, while both organizations are gruesome terrorist organizations that pose a grave risk to the Western world, fighting each one poses inherently different challenges.
This is why Saudi Arabia, which already declared a war on terrorism in 1994, recently decided to reevaluate its anti-radicalization strategy. In his recent Id al-Fitr address to the Saudi people, King Salman made this change clear, declaring: “The kingdom is determined, God willing, to strike with an iron fist those who hold deviant thoughts and believe that they can act against our people under the banner of Islam.”
While his words are merely symbolic, the change in mind-set is real. Saudi authorities have begun implementing anti-radicalization curricula at schools throughout the country. Social media sites are closely monitored by law enforcement agencies. And fringe youth – those who are most commonly recruited by radical organizations – are given closer attention and more resources than ever before.
Granted, terrorism will not disappear overnight. But the only way to eliminate radical activity is by eliminating radical thought. The kingdom is finally setting foot on this path.
– Fahed Sliman al-Shakiran
Talks about a new solution in Syria
Asharq al-Awsat, London, July 10
There have been many rumors recently about a possible breakthrough in the political deadlock in Syria, in the form of an agreement that allows Bashar Assad to remain in power for six months without political authority, during which new elections will be held.
I think that most of this talk is nonsensical. First, because the two main regional powers involved in the Syrian quagmire – Russia and Iran – have already agreed to this settlement months ago, when the situation was completely different. However, neither the rebels nor Assad’s representatives accepted this proposal. Since then, the situation has become even more complex.
More and more foreign parties have become involved in the fighting. Hezbollah sent hundreds of troops to the Syrian battlefield, while the Iranian Revolutionary Guards deployed even more forces to aid Assad. Turkey, too, has become involved in the fighting, with increasing attacks on its territory by Kurdish militias.
This brings me to my second explanation: the circumstances on the ground changed too dramatically.
None of the parties have an interest in accepting this political proposal, since they believe they can make better gains through the use of force.
Granted, the war is now in the midst of its sixth year, and no party truly believes it can win simply by continuing the fighting. Assad’s failure to defeat his opposition, despite the help of Russia and Iran, is a clear testament to this idea. At the same time, once a diplomatic solution has been put on the table, the two sides will never settle for anything less. For now, this means continued bloodshed and fighting in Syria, and very little chances for a negotiated diplomatic solution.
– Abdulrahman al-Rashed