Hot off the Arab press 496256

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

Mourners react at the Sacred Family Church for the funeral of Coptic Christians who were killed in Minya, Egypt, on May 23 (photo credit: MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY/REUTERS)
Mourners react at the Sacred Family Church for the funeral of Coptic Christians who were killed in Minya, Egypt, on May 23
ISIL’s long-term strategy in Egypt
Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 1
Recently, Islamic State claimed responsibility for yet another attack in Egypt, which resulted in the deaths of 30 Copts as they made their way to the Monastery of St. Samuel, located some 120 kilometers south of Cairo. This is the third ISIL attack carried out against Copts in Egypt in the past year.
The first attack took place in December, when a suicide bomber killed 29 people in Cairo’s El- Botroseya Church. The second attack occurred this past April, when suicide bombers attacked two different Coptic churches, one in Tanta and the other in Alexandria, on Palm Sunday. This latest attack is yet another reminder of the grave security situation prevailing in Egypt.
Egypt’s security services are basically defunct. They lack any professional ability to foil terrorist activity throughout the country, despite the immense resources invested in them; so much so that ISIL now carries out its attacks in Egypt in broad daylight, without even attempting to hide from the authorities.
Egypt has become a Wild West, in which there is complete anarchy and absolutely no reign by a central authority. Surely, violence against Copts in Egypt is not new. ISIL has been targeting Christians in the Middle East ever since its inception. However, what we are now witnessing is an unprecedented growth in the rate and intensity of these attacks.
The organization is very clever in choosing its victims.
Not only does it wreak havoc in the country and undermine the state’s authority, but it also exacerbates sectarian tensions in a country already facing severe internal rife. Egypt’s Copts, justifiably so, are demanding more protection from the government. So far, the Egyptian leadership is merely paying lip service.
A government that prides itself on fighting terrorism and combating radicalization cannot stand idly by as dozens of its citizens are slaughtered by barbaric forces. It is time that Egyptian politicians be held accountable for these failures. If they won’t take action soon, Egypt will become another failed Arab state.
– Khalil al-Unani Between
South Korean and Arab Education
Al-Bayan, UAE, May 31
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit South Korea as a part of an official Saudi delegation. What I saw was astonishing: a country transformed into one of the most advanced nations in the world. Korea’s cities and towns, once destroyed by bombs and shells, have been rebuilt and turned into bustling urban centers.
I met a Korean member of parliament who showed me two photos of Korea: one from 50 years ago, and one from that year. The differences were absolutely striking. When we asked our counterparts about their secret to success, all of them, without a single exception, answered the following: education.
This answer is hardly new, yet very few nations practice this strategy. Education, it turns out, is the key to success in so many fields, including economic growth, civic participation, and law enforcement. The focus on education has also worked for nations other than South Korea, such as Singapore, Japan, and Malaysia – and it should also inspire us.
Unfortunately, Arab countries lag behind most other countries in the world in educational achievements.
Our problem is that we focus too much on memorizing and too little on creativity. Even in fields such as literature and the arts, our schools and universities teach rigid curriculums that haven’t been modified for years.
Students today are rarely asked to face philosophical questions that push them to reflect critically about the world. They seldom work on creative projects that force them to think out of the box. Instead, they memorize material and regurgitate it at their final exams. In order to improve our societies we must not only talk about investments, but about the standards we are setting.
We must expect more of ourselves and of our students.
If we want to make any progress, we must begin in our schools. – Turki al-Dakhel
What we need is a new Syrian army
Asharq al-Awsat, London, May 31
Several military experts have proposed the idea of establishing a new Syrian Army that would represent the current Syrian opposition. This idea has been ruled out by a host of countries, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia. However, I believe that it is still a viable strategy. The simple idea would be to train and fund a new army that would fight anti-Syrian forces.
This would be helpful for a number of reasons. First, there is currently not a single entity in Syria that enjoys the widespread support of the Syrian public. Instead of representing one sectarian group, a new army would be loyal to all Syrians who oppose the government of Bashar al-Assad and the foreign powers backing him within Syria.
Second, this army would provide the Syrian opposition with the international legitimacy it so desperately needs. Third, and most importantly, this army would block Iran’s continuous encroachment into Syrian soil.
There is growing evidence that Iran has already taken advantage of its foothold in Syria in order to establish permanent military units in the country. These units would operate however and whenever Iran sees fit, and would likely interfere with any possible solution proposed to end the Syrian crisis. In doing so, it would ensure the unfortunate protraction of the war and the continuous rise of the death toll.
If we are talking about the establishment of safe zones and the provision of humanitarian aid, then we must also be able to provide an organized body that would oversee the implementation of these plans on the ground. A political solution would be helpful only insofar as it can be backed by the use of force on the ground. Today, unfortunately, almost all of the existing militias in Syria have pledged allegiance to outside powers – from Russia, ISIL, Al-Nusrah, and Iran – putting foreign interests above Syrian ones.
– Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed