Hot off the Arab press 499615

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

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a joint statment with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in Jerusalem July 4, 2017 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a joint statment with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in Jerusalem July 4, 2017
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, London, July 5
The duplicity of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt never ceases to amaze me. Their decision to boycott Qatar adds an ugly chapter to the book of indignities unfolding in our region; a list that already includes actions like the recent transfer of two islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and the abhorrent Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. This current boycott is yet another manifestation of how Zionist-backed Western agendas have come to plague our societies. Look for example at the list of demands given to Qatar.
One condition for lifting the siege calls on Doha to end all of its trade ties with Iran. Have we ever stopped, however, to consider the relationship between the boycotting countries themselves and Iran? How can these governments make such extravagant demands from Qatar, while allowing their own citizens to trade with Iranian businesses? Furthermore, is it not normal for Doha to reach out to new trade partners after its neighbors in the Gulf turned their backs against it? Similarly, unfair demands were made in regard to Qatar’s security collaboration with Turkey. Why is the presence of Turkish military forces in Qatar such a source of concern for Gulf States, while these very same countries openly welcome American, British, and French forces into their territories? Even more infuriating are the demands related to the Qatari press. Why has Al Jazeera, an independent Qatari satellite network, become illegitimate in the eyes of these boycotting states, while their own TV channels – such as Al-Arabiya and Sky Arabic – remain lawful news outlets? The answer to all of these questions is rather simple: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt are puppets in the hands of Western powers, trying to use diplomatic coercion to achieve a competitive advantage over Qatar. Thus, the list of demands given to Qatar is a shame to the intelligence of the Qatari people. It undermines Doha’s sovereignty and seeks to challenge its political power through an unlawful embargo on innocent civilians. I would suggest that the implementation of such demands begin not with Qatar, but with its boycotters instead.
– Seif Eddin Abd al-Fatah
Asharq Al-Awsat, London, July 6
Recently Qatar rejected the list of 13 demands imposed upon it by its neighboring Gulf states, describing the document as “unrealistic.” In fact, it didn’t even bother responding to the demands before their stated ultimatum had already passed. But don’t believe everything you hear: Qatar only cares about appearances. It will soon accept the demands. I am saying so with confidence because Doha’s track record demonstrates that while the government rejects diplomatic solutions in public, it is quick to accept them behind closed doors.
This was the case, for example, in 2013, when Doha accepted Riyadh’s demand to tame Al Jazeera’s vehement attacks on the kingdom. The only request made by Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, was that the agreement be kept away from the public eye.
The same is happening as we speak: Qatari authorities have launched aggressive attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, while dismissing their call for reconciliation. The Qatari media assisted this effort by spreading blatant propaganda in support of the Qatari regime. But in a few weeks’ time we will all discover that behind closed doors, Doha fully conceded to the Arab pressure and accepted all 13 demands imposed upon it, and perhaps even several others that we do not yet know about. The question, therefore, is not “if” but “how.” Now we will have to wait and see whether Qatar actually changes its behavior or only pays lip service.
Silencing Al Jazeera’s attacks on Riyadh while opening a new television network in its place, cutting funding for extremist groups while continuing to support them through back channels and condemning terrorism while turning a blind eye to Islamist groups operating in its territory will not suffice this time. Qatar must realize that the rules of the game have changed. That is, there is no longer room for this Qatari hypocrisy in these kinds of negotiations.
– Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Al-Ittihad, UAE, July 4
Obama and his national security advisers used to subscribe to the belief that Islamic State is a long-term problem destined to last for several decades. America’s foreign policy, accordingly, was designed to confront the organization slowly, over the span of several decades. This proved to be a complete miscalculation of ISIS’s true power.
It is surprising to think that even America, with its mighty intelligence capabilities, was wrong in understanding the Islamic State. And yet these American failures are hardly new. America’s war in Afghanistan and Iraq proved to be extremely inefficient in countering Islamist terrorists. In fact, the presence of US forces on the ground seemed to have resulted in the opposite effect, of increased radicalization among Arab youth. We also must not forget the recent Russian hacking of the presidential elections, against which US intelligence agencies failed to provide a warning, let alone to act.
The sad truth is that Obama’s time in office left a weak America abroad. To make things worse, it also left America’s allies weak. Today, the Russians and the Iranians are stronger than they’ve ever been, while moderate Arab states are suffering from lack of legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
What is the strategy moving forward from here? And what can America, now under Trump’s leadership, even do? Unfortunately, not much. Iraq, where US forces maintained an on-ground presence to restore stability – where a constitution, a government, and an independent judiciary have been set up, and where open elections take place – has not shown much reason for optimism.
Prospects for rehabilitation are even slimmer in the case of Syria, which has been completely destroyed by years of fighting. Even a successful American policy to rehabilitate Syria is thus doomed to begin with. Meanwhile, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia continue to extend their reach into the region, weakening and destabilizing the Arab regimes that stumble their way.
– Radwan Al-Sayed
Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, July 5
With the conclusion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s four-day visit to Israel, it is becoming clear that India’s priorities in the Middle East have changed.
Historically, India has been one of the key supporters of the Palestinian cause, especially outside the Arab world. In 1947, it voted against the UN’s partition plan for Palestine. It was also among the first countries to recognize the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This approach, however, seems long gone today, following the Indian premier’s visit to the region. Modi concluded his visit to the region without even visiting Ramallah, a basic gesture of goodwill expected of any foreign dignitary visiting Israel.
Modi was elected Prime Minister after portraying himself as an Indian nationalist and a free-market reformer. Part of these reforms, it now becomes clear, was the breaking away from India’s pro-Palestinian past. Under Modi’s premiership, Israel has become one of India’s largest arms providers, second only to Russia. Israeli companies have been signing multi-billion dollar deals for weapons, armaments and missile defense systems with India.
Now the Israelis are interested in taking this partnership to the next level, leveraging the 1.3 billion-person economy that India has to offer. The Indians, on their end, also have meat in the game. Modi is interested in establishing a strong Indian green energy sector, consisting of desalination plants and clean energy, where Israeli knowledge can benefit him greatly. These shared interests explain why Modi was received by Prime Minister Netanyahu with honor reserved for kings.
India is an extremely influential player – both economically and politically – and it would mark a great victory for Israel to have it on its side. Although the Palestinians claim that they share India’s history of colonial oppression, it seems as if the tide has changed. India’s new priorities are financial, and Israel is taking advantage of these changing priorities.
– Mustafa Fateh