Hot off the Arab press

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

Smoke rises near a mosque as clashes continue between Lebanese army soldiers and Islamists in the Sunni border town of Arsal. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Smoke rises near a mosque as clashes continue between Lebanese army soldiers and Islamists in the Sunni border town of Arsal.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
From Mosul to Arsal
Al-Hayat, Saudi Arabia
Ghassan Charbel, editor-in chief, writes that what we are witnessing today is an unprecedented chain of events extending from Mosul, Iraq, to Arsal, Lebanon.
Throughout this entire region, central countries are losing control over their own sovereign territories. We can safely say that the Iraq we used to know no longer exists. Today, we are instead talking about Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shi’ites, Iraqis living under the control of Shi’ite militias, Sunnis taken over by an Islamic State (IS)-formed caliphate, and Kurds under the control of Pershmerga forces.
Similarly, the Syria we used to know no longer exists.
Rather, it is now a region under martial rule – of an army fighting alongside Lebanese and Iraqi militias affiliated with Iran. The Syrian Sunni bloc is torn between IS, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Brigades.
Thus, the central state has disappeared. This conflict, presented to us under the veil of a “civil war,” is part of a much wider regional clash between Sunnis and Shi’ites, which can no longer be concealed. What is really dangerous about the fall of Arsal is that it officially announces the fall of international borders and the loss of Lebanese sovereignty. It adds Lebanon to a region beginning in Mosul, in which the central state no longer exists; nor do international borders or peaceful coexistence.
The Arsal incident reveals the fragility of the region and the deteriorating relations between its components.
Good leadership will now focus on preventing the Mosul winds from surpassing Arsal, and blowing towards Beirut and Tripoli.
Palestinian Druse furious at community member, commander of IDF’s Golani Brigade
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London
There is growing fury and anger among many of Israel’s Druse toward community members who serve in the IDF and fight against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Much of this anger is directed at Ghassan Alian, commander of the Golani Brigade, which was responsible for the “massacre” in Shujaiyah.
The Golani Brigade launched its devastating operation in the urban neighborhood two weeks ago, leaving 72 dead and 400 wounded, with 13 Golani casualties.
Alian, 41, was moderately injured himself during the fighting but recovered and announced his return to fight alongside his soldiers, following the assault that was described by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “a crime against humanity and a horrific massacre that cannot go by unpunished.”
In Shfaram, a community that is home to Christians, Muslims and Druse, from which Alian hails, some were furious. The commander’s uncle, Zahi Alian, said, “I suffer by what is happening to the people in Gaza. They are my brothers.” Another resident claimed that “Ghassan represents himself, and not the entire Druse community.”
Why doesn’t ‘IS’ fight Israel?
Al-Akhbar, Lebanon
Writer Radwan Mortadah discusses an IS-attributed video showing cheerful reactions to the firing of rockets toward Israel, which was found to be a fake reproduction of an old video produced by the Mujahideen Shura Council in Sinai. The joy over the “Caliphate’s response” to the distressed people of Gaza and the nearing liberation of Jerusalem did not last long.
Al-Akhbar interviewed IS affiliates in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and asked them: Why is IS distancing itself from what is happening in Palestine? Are those in Gaza not Muslim? The salafi jihadist approach states, “There is no importance for the liberation of Palestine until its entire vicinity is turned into a caliphate.” An IS source claimed, “The final war that will liberate Palestine will be carried out by the Caliphate, which is currently growing in Iraq and Syria,” going on to explain that they are expected to fight the “close enemy” before fighting the “far enemy” – that is, to fight the Arab infidels and complete their conquest before heading to Palestine.
Another IS-affiliated source explained that “none of the bordering countries with Israel are lifting a finger to attack it, which means they are not interested in an armed conflict with it. If we enter those countries to attack Israel, we will first have to fight the local regimes.
Therefore, we have to purify the neighboring countries before we can reach Israel.”
Warning against the return of ‘Political Money’
Al-Ahram, Egypt
Writer Sameh Lashin talks about how the price of an electoral vote has risen, standing between 1,000 to 10,000 Egyptian pounds.
The Egyptian authorities have been closely monitoring the increased flow of external financing into Egypt, particularly to parties and political blocs, in light of upcoming elections for the House of Representatives. Such funding, they say, has significant weight in shaping the identity of members of the House.
Dr. Rifaat Saedris, head of the advisory council to the National Progressive Unionist Party, revealed that security agencies have information about the existence of widespread financing originating from Iran, Qatar and Turkey, as well as the US and EU. He pointed out: “We have recently started seeing parties put up ads for open donations, which are undoubtedly the magical conduit through which this money is wired. We will have to apply the law to counter this phenomenon.”
Israeli forces fear Al-Qassam’s new ‘ghoul’ rifle
Al Jazeera, Qatar
The Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, revealed its latest development: the production of a sniper rifle, already put to use against Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.
The rifle was given the nickname “Ghoul,” named after al-Qassam commander Adnan al-Ghoul. It has a 14.55-mm caliber and a range of up to 1.93 km, and has been used in a number of attacks against Israeli soldiers.
The unveiling of the rifle joins a series of surprises prepared for Israeli forces by al-Qassam since the beginning of the Israeli aggression, which also included a drone able to survey the IDF’s bases in Tel Aviv and return to Gaza.
Al-Qassam confirmed in their statement Sunday that the resistance possesses many tools and military capabilities that enable it to “force the enemy to acquiesce to our demands.”