Hot off the Arab press 486873

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

A Syrian man from Idlib is carried by Turkish medics wearing chemical protective suits to a hospital in the border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, Turkey (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Syrian man from Idlib is carried by Turkish medics wearing chemical protective suits to a hospital in the border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, Turkey
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Where is the world?
Where is its shame?
Almada, Iraq, April 5
In the wake of the horrific Syrian chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, I have heard too many voices, both inside the Arab world as well as abroad, doubting the claims that the attack actually took place.
Let us be clear: Those denying the Khan Sheikhoun attack, just like those who denied the Ghouta chemical attack in 2013, are nothing but Islamic State and al-Qaida sympathizers. To them, the massacre did not take place, the gruesome footage of dying men, women and children is not real, and the entire scene was staged. Naked mothers and their children stretched out on the ground are nothing more than extras in a Hollywood production set.
What has become of people? Have they lost their minds? The world has consistently turned a blind eye to the suffering of the Syrian people. Syrians, with no voice left to speak, are crying out for help. Desperately. They are tortured, beaten, imprisoned, kidnapped and killed, while the world refuses to help. They are attacked by guns, by helicopters, by fighter jets and, now, by sarin gas, and Western spectators, from the comfort of their TV rooms, shed crocodile tears.
Syria has become the world’s largest graveyard, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Those who did not die under Assad’s torture die in his prisons. Those who survive his prisons die from his bullets, and missiles, and chemical weapons.
Still, the world stands still, idly watching death take over the last standing cities. Sadly, this silence has become even more despicable than the actions of the Syrian butcher himself. World leaders have as much blood on their hand as does Assad himself. – Ali al-Ruz
Will our dream of freedom ever be fulfilled?
Al Jazeera, Qatar, April 1
I am very doubtful that we will ever see true freedom in the Arab world. Despite our history of social and political activism, I cannot see true change ever happening.
Is transition to democracy more difficult today than it was in the past? I think that the sad yet inevitable conclusion is yes. Our world today is controlled by a handful of global powers that view the world as nothing but a play board in their game of chess. They anoint and topple leaders, launch wars and bring peace, and control the acts of nations weaker than them in order to promote their own goals and interests.
The Arab world will never be free, because it is controlled by exactly such powers: the United States, Russia and Europe. These players simply have too many gains in the game to ever give up: political interests, financial incentives and pure greed.
Using their power, they limit the boundaries in which legitimate political action can unfold – not only in the Arab world but in developing countries more broadly. Therefore, when Arabs took to the streets in 2011 – thinking that they would bring about democracy – what they should have really protested was the leaders of the West. Their own leaders, horrible as they were, were nothing more than victims themselves: leaders installed by the West, forced to fulfill orders from abroad in order to ensure their survival.
So long as this power structure continues, there is very little hope for change. The situation is so bad that many Arabs today wish they could go back to being ruled by their despotic leaders but at least enjoy stability. Today they reap the benefit of neither. – Faisal al-Qassem
Say no to normalization
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, April 4
President Donald Trump’s special representative to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, has made repeated trips to the region in recent weeks, in what seems like a renewed attempt to launch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. There have even been rumors flying around about possible Egyptian mediation efforts in the talks.
Whatever Trump has up his sleeve, one thing is important to remember: the normalization of ties with Israel cannot come as a precondition to negotiations.
Israeli and American negotiators alike have been consistently pushing the Arab world to recognize Israel and establish diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv as a confidence- building measure that would allow the Israeli public to make territorial concessions.
This idea comes in the form of many different names. Benjamin Netanyahu calls it “economic peace.” Others call it “aligned interests.” Whatever name we give this plan, it remains a catastrophic idea. Israel has proven time and again that its ultimate interest is to maintain its occupation of the Palestinian people and their lands. Tel Aviv’s strategy has been to buy time through negotiations, while enhancing its hold on Palestinian territory and exacerbating its encroachment of Palestinian lands.
Normalizing ties would mean succumbing to Israel and giving it carte blanche to continue its obstinate behavior. Under the guise of so-called negotiations, it will establish settlements, pave new roads, erect outposts and deploy more forces into Palestine. This would be the final straw for the Palestinian people, bringing a complete end to their hope and aspirations to achieve nationhood.
Trump might have a lot of leverage in the Arab world.
Arab leaders, on their part, might have a strong interest to warm up their ties with Washington. But this cannot come at the expense of the Palestinian cause.
The Arab world must say “no” to normalization. – Diana Saed al-Din
The difference between Obama’s and Trump’s White House
Alriyadh, Saud Arabia, April 2
Despite the ridicule with which we treat American President Donald Trump, the truth is that the current American administration is not much different from the previous one. I say this in regard to one main point: America’s foreign policy.
While Barack Obama chose to maintain ambiguity about his stances on Syria, Iraq and Eastern Europe, Trump maintains unfiltered clarity. But both leaders are, at the end of the day, pragmatists. Both men want to limit America’s intervention abroad while maintaining stability at home. Although Trump emphatically denies any connection to Obama, the fact of the matter is that Trump’s foreign policy is a direct continuation of that of his predecessor.
Take for example America’s stance on Bashar Assad. The public did not know what Obama’s precise stance was, but time and again, the president refrained from making Assad’s removal part of the equation. With Trump, this policy remained in place. Now, however, the president’s stances are out in the open. The American ambassador to the UN, for example, stated just a few days ago that America is no longer concerned with the removal of Assad. Similar statements have been made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other White House officials.
Similarity between the two administrations also extends to policies pertaining to Russia, Israel/Palestine, and the fight against Islamic State. There, too, it would be foolish to expect Trump to introduce an entirely new American approach. It seems that American pragmatism will always prevail, regardless of who is sitting in the Oval Office. – Hassan Abu Haniyeh