A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

AN EMPLOYEE working inside the office of Qatar-based Al- Jazeera network in Jerusalem watches the news, last month. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
AN EMPLOYEE working inside the office of Qatar-based Al- Jazeera network in Jerusalem watches the news, last month.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Al-Jazeera, Qatar, August 22
“Al-Jazeera has always come under heavy fire. Recently, the Israeli government announced its plan to limit the station’s ability to operate out of Tel Aviv and revoke its staff’s licenses. Israel is not the first to threaten Al-Jazeera. Ever since its inception in 1996, the Qatar- based news channel has been targeted by numerous regimes, all of which fear the station’s reporting.
“Al-Jazeera revolutionized news in the Middle East.
It introduced investigative journalism to countries that had very limited press freedom. It provided live coverage of events unfolding in the region to every household in the Arab world. For doing so, it has won many accolades, but also been blamed by almost every single actor in the region.
“Seculars accuse it of being too religious, while Islamists accuse it of being too secular. Governments accuse it of undermining their authority, while revolutionaries accuse it of being pro-regime. These accusations are the result of a simple fact: Al-Jazeera is committed to journalistic integrity. It does not take sides, but simply sticks to the facts. This is what Israel gets wrong.
“Al-Jazeera has been the first station in the region to provide Israeli authorities with a stage to voice their opinion. It connects millions of Arab viewers with spokespersons of the Israeli government. It brings the Israeli perspective to almost every living room in the Arab world.
“The plot to silence Al-Jazeera makes one wonder whether Israel is less democratic than its neighbors in the region, where the station’s staff operate freely.
Shutting down Al-Jazeera in Israel would only limit the political views to which Israelis, and Arab citizens, are exposed. This is a dangerous precedent that poses grave danger in the long run. Not just for Arabs, but for Israelis as well.” – Walid al-Omri
Al-Khaleej al-Jadid, UAE, August 23
“The decision to allow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power signifies a much greater failure than that of the international community to end the Syrian civil war. In fact, it is part of a wider stance taken by the international community toward the Arab world, which can be traced back to the formation of Israel.
“Ever since 1948, Western powers have turned a blind eye to Israel’s violation of human rights. At first, they accepted Israel’s cleansing of the Palestinian people.
Then they embraced its annexation of Palestinian lands. All of this was done under the guise of Israel’s ‘security concerns.’ “Not a single country acted against Israel as millions of Palestinians were either displaced or killed. This attitude set up a dangerous precedent in the world. It allowed Western powers – the very same ones that speak so highly of international human rights – to accept almost any brutal oppressor, so long as his or her acts of killing could be rationalized by an impending security threat to the West.
“Now, countries like the United States and Russia speak of Assad as the lesser of two evils. They have pardoned him for the atrocities he committed against his people, simply because they fear ISIL more than they fear his regime.
“They ignored the plea of the Syrian people for a free and democratic society. Assad’s state-sponsored terrorism against the Syrian people is no different than Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism against the Palestinian people. The fact that world powers have come to embrace both of these realities as a given suggests that Arab lives have no value in the eyes of the West.
“What started out as an exception in the case of Israel ended up as a norm regarding any human rights abuses occurring in the Arab world. We now live in a world where criminals are being rewarded while their victims are being punished.” – Abd al-Wahab Badran
Al-Ayyam, Ramallah, August 22
“As he sinks deeper and deeper into criminal investigations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found a creative way to deflect attention away from his impending criminal charges: blaming Turkey for the Aksa crisis.
“In recent weeks, Netanyahu’s top ministers and closest aides appeared on television and in newspapers, where they blamed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for fanning the flames against Israel.
They accused the Turkish premier of inciting the Muslim world at large, and the Palestinian public in particular, against Israel, resulting in the recent al-Aksa crisis.
“The Israeli Foreign Ministry mocked Turkey for attempting to ‘restore its glorious days of the Ottoman Empire.’ Israeli political pundits presented false evidence about Turkish funding of Arab protesters in Jerusalem. Think tanks and government agencies even claimed that Turkey sent some of its citizens to instigate violent clashes on the ground.
“Not a single word, of course, had been said about Israel’s continuous violation of Palestinian rights at the Holy Compound. Not a single reference was made to the daily humiliation of Palestinian women and children, the prevention of Palestinians from praying at the mosque, and the restriction on the movement of Palestinians in their eternal capital.
“Netanyahu’s anti-democratic government is proving once again that it will take any step necessary to ensure its survival, regardless of the facts on the ground. It is arrogant and delusional, putting blame on everyone but itself.
“Unfortunately, several Arab regimes have opted to collaborate with Israel and adopt its narratives, making their leaders sound no better than spokespersons of the Israeli government. Turkey, however, isn’t one of them. Its steadfast support for the Palestinian people has been unwavering. In an attempt to continue to divide and conquer, Netanyahu is now taking a hit at one of the last-standing Palestinian allies.”– Hesham Manwar
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, August 26
“The Qatari government has officially announced its plan to bolster its bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. To anyone with even a basic understanding of Middle East politics, this comes as no surprise.
“The official Qatari explanation given to this newly emerging alliance was the need to diversify the country’s trade portfolio following the embargo imposed on it by Gulf States. However, this is merely an excuse.
“Qatar’s small economy has very little to gain from trade with Iran, and Iran has no need, nor interest, in Qatari imports. Instead, this new partnership is meant to exacerbate the only thing that the two countries do have in common: their attempt to wreak havoc in the region.
“Iran has been the largest supporter of Shi’ite militias in the region, like Hezbollah. Qatar, on the other hand, has sponsored and funded Sunni terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida and ISIL. This is as far as the similarity between the two countries goes.
“Thus the new Doha-Tehran partnership has no end-goal in sight. It should be understood as nothing more than a provocation; an attempt to anger Qatar’s neighboring countries and strengthen Iran’s hold in the Gulf. Unfortunately for Qatar, this effort will not succeed.
“The times have changed, and Barack Obama is no longer running the White House. The new strong man in power has been taking a harsh hand against Tehran and its cronies. This new partnership will simply add Qatar to that blacklist. Doha’s decision to upgrade its relations with Tehran at this time will come back to haunt it. It is already suffering from grave consequences for its political decisions. It does not need another terrible mistake.” – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed