Hot off the Arab press 462023

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

Former Turkish President Abdullah Gul (2nd L) comforts the son of a police officer killed during a thwarted coup in Turkey, on July 18 in Istanbul (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Turkish President Abdullah Gul (2nd L) comforts the son of a police officer killed during a thwarted coup in Turkey, on July 18 in Istanbul
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, July 17
The unforeseen uprising against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed. It joins a long list of roughly 230 other coups that failed over the past six decades. Nonetheless, it has caused great concern around what’s in store for Turkey next.
Many believe that Erdogan’s overthrow failed because the Turkish people took the streets in support of their president. This is only partially true. In reality, the regime didn’t fall because a vast majority of the Turkish army did not support the revolt. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a monumental event for Turkey on a historical scale. It will be remembered and studied for years. But it also raises some important questions about the difference between old and newly established democracies.
In the United Kingdom, just a week ago, Prime Minister David Cameron respected the wishes of the British people and stepped down from office, despite having nearly three years left to serve. He did not force himself upon his nation. He did so in a dignified and a well-respected manner. Meanwhile, in Turkey, Erdogan has been suppressing his political opponents. And now, following the coup, he will likely consolidate his power and enhance his authority even more so than before. It is not unlikely that he will make amendments to the constitution, which will shift Turkey from a parliamentary system to a presidential one, in which he will indisputably lead the nation.
Surely, Erdogan has a lot on his plate. He has enemies from within as well from the outside. He is busy repressing Kurdish separatists at home, while fighting the Islamic State abroad. But the attempt to remove him from power will not go by unnoticed. Turkish society will become ever more divided and vengeful, and political rights of Erdogan’s political opponents will be severely suppressed. – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
Al-Arab, London, July 13
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the July War, when Israel invaded Lebanon and targeted much of the country’s infrastructure. The battles ended with Hezbollah declaring victory over Israel and, more importantly, over the Lebanese people. Since the war ended, Hezbollah slowly crept into every part of Lebanon’s political system. It undermined longstanding understandings between different political fractions, leading to ever-growing ethnic and religious tensions in the country. Its negative effects are still felt this very day, with an ongoing presidential vacuum and lack of political leadership in Lebanon for several years.
While Israel came out of the war with the understanding that it wants its border with Lebanon sealed, Syria and Iran came out of the war with the opposite conclusion. They wanted to enhance their reach into Lebanon, and increase their influence in the country. Hezbollah turned Lebanon into a local playground for foreign powers. It humiliated the Lebanese people by claiming to protect their interests while acting under the guardianship of Iran. Because of Hezbollah, Lebanon’s tourism industry suffered a huge blow. It led to a major halt in the Lebanese economy. It has forsaken longstanding allies of Lebanon, like Saudi Arabia, in favor of questionable partners like Iran.
Ten years have passed and much has changed in our region: Syria has completely disintegrated. Egypt went through an uprising and a military revolution.
Turkey and Israel normalized their ties. But one thing remained constant: Lebanon is divided, involved in extraterritorial conflicts, and hijacked by Hezbollah’s narrow political interests. – Kheir Allah Kheir Allah
Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, July 17
Last week, an attacker driving a truck rammed pedestrians in the French city of Nice, killing over 80 people. The newspaper headlines described it as a “two-kilometer killing spree.” Interestingly, less than a month earlier, a gunman opened automatic rifle fire in a gay club in Orlando, shooting and killing over 50 people. Newspaper headlines described it as a “threehour killing spree.”
When did we start measuring the brutality of crimes by using time and space as our proxies of violence? The places we are describing are scenes of terrorist attacks. They are places were dozens of innocent civilians lost their lives to cowardly acts of terrorism, inspired by the Islamic State.
Our obsession with the visual, with the specific details of the attack, makes us part of the crime. By acting as spectators – obsessed with the technical rather than the ideological – we are giving the terrorists the attention they so desperately crave. Our addiction to images and videos coming out of these horror scenes is not new. We witnessed it from Paris to Brussels, through Orlando, and then Istanbul. Now we see it with the attack in Nice. What we are doing defeats our goal and purpose.
Our power lies in the ability to fight, and eventually defeat, the sickening ideology that stands behind Islamic State. By desensitizing death and describing each attack in Hollywood-like terms, we are glorifying perpetrators of heinous crimes. We are different than our enemies because while they glorify death, we praise life. We must not put these crimes on a pedestal, for the fear of becoming complacent and, even worst, complicit. These are not incidents to measure in kilometers and hours; these are destructive ideologies that we must fight at their core, while promoting our own ideals of peace and coexistence. – Hazem al-Amin