Hot off the Arab press 496934

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

People look at pigeons at the Souq Waqif market in Doha, Qatar (photo credit: REUTERS)
People look at pigeons at the Souq Waqif market in Doha, Qatar
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Is the United States’ friendship more dangerous than its enmity?
Al-Rayah, Qatar, June 10
The recent move to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar – carried out by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain – sheds more light about the politics of our region than we realize. Today’s Middle East boasts a tremendous number of political players, consisting of both state and non-state actors. Therefore, it is difficult more than ever before to predict the outcome of such diplomatic developments.
Will this move empower traditionally weak regimes? Will it undermine them? Alternatively, will it inspire more radicalization? Will it combat fundamentalism?
The official excuse cited for this boycott on Qatar has to do with the latter’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. However, it is clear that in announcing this move, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain all tried to appease American President Donald Trump. It comes as no surprise that this diplomatic barrage on Doha came just weeks after Trump concluded his trip to the region, in which he consulted closely with his Arab and Israeli counterparts.
I would warn, nevertheless, that following Trump’s orders is a risky deal. First, America is more divided than ever before. In fact, while President Trump’s tweets praised the boycott on Qatar, the State Department was quick to renounce this move and cited Qatar as an “important and strategic” US ally. Gulf leaders might expect steadfast assurances from Washington, but find themselves in the midst of domestic American disputes.
Second, Hamas is no longer an illegitimate movement. It enjoys widespread public support within the Arab world, and it is perceived as an appropriate resistance movement to the brutal Israeli occupation. These Arab countries have been hypocritical in their stance on the Palestinian issue, through their implicit support of Israel and unambiguous distaste for Hamas. Finally, Qatar should be lauded – not punished – for its unapologetic support for the people of Palestine. Only history will judge the leaders that called for this boycott. In the mean time, they might just find themselves abandoned not only by their fellow Arab states, but also by their unreliable “ally” in Washington DC. – Yaseen Ektay
The difference between Qatar and the Qataris
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, June 12
There is a great difference between Qatar the state and its people. In the wake of recent developments in the Gulf, several commentators described the Arab boycott on Doha as an “act of treason” against our Arabs brothers and sisters. Other described it as an inhumane siege on innocent civilians. This could not be farther away from the truth.
Supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East constitutes the real violence. The desire to contain extremist organizations, meanwhile, is a service and duty to the Arab world. The Qatari people is not our enemy; it never was and never will be. Rather, it is those extremist leaders, many of who are not even native to the country, who claim to represent the people of Qatar while leading their country astray.
I am thinking of individuals like Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi, the chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, who makes use of the Qatari media and state institutions to incite Arabs against each other. Qatar opened its gates to immigrants from across the Arab world but, in doing so, failed to oversee who comes into its territory and acts on its behalf. Today there are Egyptian, Saudi, Jordanian, Lebanese, and Syrian “Qataris” who consistently act against the interest of the Qatari people.
The Qatari government, meanwhile, openly enables this by providing such individuals with state subsidies and platforms like Al-Jazeera. It is for this reason that four Arab states – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain – finally decided to act and put an end to this incitement. It is an uncomfortable move, but a necessary one nonetheless. – Mamduh al-Miheni
Qatar: enough is enough
Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, June 12
I have heard many allegations regarding the nature of the recent Arab decision to boycott Qatar in response to its belligerent actions in the region. These accusations range from blaming Arab countries for succumbing to American pressure, to accusing them of collaborating with the Israeli regime. All of these accusations raise doubts about the so-called “suspicious” timing of this boycott announcement.
However, it is important to realize that the crisis with Qatar did not emerge out of thin air. In fact, it has been unfolding for years. The fact that Arab countries have remained silent so far does not mean that they ought to endlessly do so. They simply had enough.
Furthermore, the accusations against Qatar are not new. Qatar’s foreign policy has been at the center of Saudi politics for years. The Qatari government has unfailingly used its private satellite channels, most notably Al-Jazeera, to incite the Arab public against Arab leaders and their governments. To make things worse, it openly welcomed political dissidents and provided them with a platform and funding to act against their governments. How could Gulf states let this behavior continue uninterrupted?
A few months ago, King Abdullah decided to recall the Saudi ambassador from Qatar. Later that month, Riyadh threatened that it would cut all ties with Doha if the latter continued its provocations against the kingdom. Finally, last week, the Arab world had enough and decided to send a clear and unequivocal message to Qatar. Ignoring this long history of animosity undermines the complex and nuanced reality in which this boycott unfolded. – Turki al-Dakheel
No Palestinian end game in sight
Al-Watan, Qatar, June 9
In his most recent public statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu divulged yet another piece of his vision regarding the future of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Speaking about territorial concessions, Netanyahu claimed that there would be no peace deal in which Israel relinquishes its control over the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. His words could have not been clearer.
There, on Israeli public radio, Netanyahu blatantly admitted that while Israel is willing to allow for Palestinian self-governance, it would not allow for Palestinian territorial sovereignty. Granted, this revelation isn’t shocking; Netanyahu has never been a dove. But what about the reaction of the Palestinian Authority? How has President Abbas responded to these flagrant denials of a Palestinian right to statehood, which has been at the core of every single round of negotiations held to date?
All I hear the current Palestinian leadership do is blame Hamas for incitement. It is pressuring the movement to disarm and recognize Israel. Meanwhile, the enemy is hardening its requests, demanding a change of the Palestinian school curricula, a freeze on wages to Palestinian prisoners, and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Sadly, the failure to address these issues does nothing but empower the current ineffective Palestinian leadership at the expense of the Palestinian people. Instead of fighting for the Palestinian cause, these leaders are taking care of their own personal wellbeing. Meanwhile, Hamas has been subjected to growing pressure, culminating in the explosion of its members from Qatar last week. Perhaps it is time to reconsider who is truly fighting for the Palestinian people. I doubt they sit in Ramallah. – Yasser al-Zaatra