Hot off the Arab press 500401

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

Staff work inside the headquarters of Al Jazeera Media Network, in Doha, Qatar, last month. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Staff work inside the headquarters of Al Jazeera Media Network, in Doha, Qatar, last month.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The spread of ISIS into the Pacific and the need for a global strategy, Al-Ittihad, UAE, July 10
Two decapitated bodies of sailors were found in the Philippines last week on an island off the country’s southern coast. A preliminary police investigation pointed fingers at a group called Abu Sayyef, a local ISIS-affiliated militia with a stronghold in the island.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, known for his controversial remarks, was quick to react, warning the group that he would “eat their livers raw” with nothing but “salt and vinegar” if they dare carry out attacks in his country. This is undoubtedly a strange remark and many were quick to criticize the eccentric Philippine president. But truth be told, it is an intimidating statement nonetheless. Duterte might sound barbaric, but so is every other Western government.
Take for example the United States’ assassination of Osama bin Laden. According to numerous reports, no footage of the action was released to the public because of the body’s gruesome condition. The US similarly conducts aerial bombings in Yemen and Afghanistan using unmanned drones, indiscriminately killing dozens of innocent civilians to achieve its counterterrorism goals. Are these methods any less barbaric than Duterte’s cannibalistic statement? Are the Russian massacres throughout Syria – which resulted in hundreds of dead civilians – any less cruel? The real problem lies not with the president’s eccentric threat. Rather, it lies with a lack of clear global strategy to combat ISIS. Every country in this battle is acting selfishly, kicking militiamen out of its own territory with little, if any, concern for the group’s actions elsewhere. Even more concerning is the fact that Western governments have been fighting radicalization only with weapons. What happened to influencing people’s hearts and minds? Until the world’s powers come together to devise a clear collaborative strategy to combat radicalization, we will continue depending on barbaric practices like that of Duterte’s to fight terrorist groups. – Ibrahim Farihat
Al Jazeera: the scapegoat of the Arab world, Al Jazeera, Qatar, July 12
While many of us here in the Arab world continue to view Al Jazeera as a Qatari network, the world stopped viewing it as such a long time ago. Today, Al Jazeera and its English-language affiliate attract millions of viewers worldwide, many of whom consider the network a prime source of news on events happening in the Middle East and the world at large.
Therefore, the demands we’re hearing these days to shut down the channel on the grounds that it is supporting the Qatari regime seem absurd to a Western audience.
It is translated as nothing but an Arab attack on the freedom of speech in a region already notoriously known for its abuse of human rights.
There is no doubt that Al Jazeera, since its inception in the early 1990s, changed the face of the Arab media forever. It has also been extremely influential in changing the political landscape of the Middle East, bringing live coverage of real-time events and providing a multitude of perspectives on any given issue. Most importantly, while other Arab states launched their own satellite networks – in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – no other station has been as successful as Al Jazeera at reaching the masses.
But instead of competing with their big sister in Qatar by providing better coverage and appealing to a wider public, these networks chose to fight Al Jazeera through a dirty war, by delegitimizing it in every possible occasion. The most recent attempt took place last week, when the four boycotting countries demanded that Doha revoke the network’s license.
The truth, however, is that Al Jazeera is not the problem; it is simply the symptom.
A symptom of faltering Arab regimes that fail to innovate themselves and appeal to the public. Simply eliminating competition will not suffice. This demand stands not only against the interests of the Qatari people, but also against those of the free world.
– Abdel Nasser Salama
An Iranian vote of no confidence in its regime, Asarq Al-Awsat, London, July 11
A particularly interesting event took place in Paris last week, when hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in a demonstration against the Iranian regime. The march included thousands of Iranian political dissidents, notable opposition leaders, and Western supporters of the Iranian opposition. All of them marched the streets of Paris and called to replace the Iranian regime.
The main message they sent was clear: the Iranian regime, unlike what Obama and his associates have claimed, cannot be turned moderate. The crimes committed today by the Iranian regime are no less heinous than those committed by Islamic State. Both are brutally promoting their ideology while killing anyone standing in their way. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have spread their reach into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, undermining the authority of these countries’ respective governments, while meddling with their domestic affairs.
Nowhere more was this clear than in a recent speech given by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, in which he warned Israel that any of its actions against Hezbollah would be answered by resistance of multiple Arab forces, from Yemen to Iraq. Nasrallah was openly referencing Iran, which would use its bases throughout the Middle East to support Hezbollah in its future war efforts. But this threat is not directed solely against Tel Aviv.
It is also a risk to people living in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf states.
With this in mind, we have no other choice but to ask: is it possible for us to ever deal with the current Iranian regime? If thousands of Iranian citizens marched and unequivocally yelled “no,” how can we ever say “yes”? If the Iranians cast a vote of no confidence in their regime, how can we have faith in it? – Eyad Abu Shakra