Voices from the Arab press

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

An Iranian student holds a caricature of US President Donald Trump during a protest against Trump’s latest speech on Iran, in Tehran. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An Iranian student holds a caricature of US President Donald Trump during a protest against Trump’s latest speech on Iran, in Tehran.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Khaleej al-Jadid, UAE, October 12
“There is a growing debate among European leaders about the best ways to reconstruct Syria and offer aid to the war-torn country. The problem with these discussions is that they ignore the reality on the ground.
“In Syria, the civilian death toll has risen to its highest level in four years, as regime forces continue bombarding populated areas in the outskirts of Damascus and Russian forces target the very safe zones they have vowed to protect.
“Make no mistake – the reconstruction process is a political game. There is no altruism here. Those who offer assistance to the Syrian people are doing so with the goal of increasing their own foothold in the country once the war is over. Aid to the Syrian people will not be distributed equally.
Those sectors that can offer a greater return on investment will be the first to benefit from international assistance. By contrast, ordinary Syrians who have lost everything during the war will find it difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild their communities and lives.
“Moscow has made clear that the Syrian regime will be tasked with distributing international aid for all reconstruction efforts. This will unfortunately ensure that funds are funneled straight from Western donors to Assad affiliates and his cronies, who will use the money for their own gain and to promote their own agendas. The areas most devastated by the war – namely, those in the hands of the Syrian opposition – will be left in shambles for years.
“What, then, is the purpose of this nonsensical debate? Continuing to ignore the harsh reality on the ground will not get us anywhere. By disregarding the average Syrian citizen, European leaders are in essence writing a big blank check to the regime. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is not the recovery that was envisioned for Syria.”
Leena Khateb
Akhbar al-Khaleej, Bahrain, October 7
“In a recent meeting with his top military brass, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned army generals that Jerusalem’s next war would be fought on multiple fronts – namely, in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip. Liberman’s comments were a window into Israel’s updated national security doctrine.
“In his statements, the far-right minister revealed how Israel views the dynamics in the region – unstable, fragile and volatile. The Israeli security establishment in Tel Aviv has long perceived the Lebanese Army as a deteriorating power with no real presence on the ground.
Instead, Hezbollah and its Shi’ite counterparts in Syria are deemed the real sovereign over southern Lebanon. In the next war, therefore, Israel will have to fight on both Lebanese and Syrian soil.
“What’s more, Hamas is likely to join any confrontation ignited by Hezbollah by launching its own offensive along Israel’s southern border.
This will require the Israeli army to defend two different fronts at the same time. Liberman and his associates understand this reality very well, and they are busy preparing for the next confrontation. The Israeli military has already started training its soldiers for this next round of fighting and will likely continue to do so with even greater intensity in coming months.
“It is hard to say whether Liberman’s assessment is right or wrong, but in a place like the Middle East such predictions often become self-fulfilling prophecies. Israel’s next round of fighting may very well be the bloodiest and most violent it has seen to date.”
– Ibrahim Farhat
Al Jazeera, Qatar, October 14
“When Russia and Iran are deemed the responsible adults in the room, one realizes how reckless the American administration has become.
“Following US President Donald Trump’s combative speech last week in which he threatened to terminate the nuclear agreement with Iran, both Moscow and Tehran were quick to announce that they will continue respecting the agreement. The new American stance is foolish, as it does nothing but isolate Washington.
“The implementation of the Iranian nuclear accord, signed over two years ago, has been closely monitored by the United Nations Security Council, which has confirmed the Islamic Republic’s compliance with its terms. Trump’s belligerent position puts the US at odds with some of its closest allies who still support the deal, including Germany, Britain and France. The president’s statements do nothing to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions; rather, they give hard-liners in Tehran carte blanche to violate the agreement while blaming America for its termination.
“Any statesman with even a rudimentary understanding of politics sees how Trump’s announcement is a dangerous move for the entire world. Washington is going down a dangerous path – not only with Iran but also with North Korea. Trump seems to lack the understanding that the US cannot be run like his real-estate empire. There are grave consequences to his tantrums.
“How horrifying it is that we now live in a world in which the Kremlin demonstrates more restraint than the White House.”
Abd al-Nasser Salama
Al Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, October 15
“As the crisis in the Gulf continues to unfold, a new scandal looms over Doha: the World Cup games scheduled to be held in Qatar in 2022.
According to several sources in FIFA, the international football association, the Qatari government bribed numerous officials in order to win the right to host the upcoming games, despite lacking the necessary infrastructure to put on an event of such magnitude. To make up for this gap, Qatari authorities have reportedly spent over $200 billion to date on the construction of an Olympic park – an unprecedented project in the country’s history, which has cost the average citizen roughly $100,000 in taxpayers’ money. All of this superfluous spending was done simply to boost Doha’s prestige, with no real regard to the World Cup; a sporting event designed to bring together the people of the world in unity and friendship.
“The Qatari government’s true colors were already revealed when its support for terrorist groups across the region was exposed a few months ago. Since then, Doha has refused to reconcile with its neighbors and continues to spread its radical ideology throughout the Middle East. Qatar was never meant to host the World Cup, and is certainly not worthy of doing so. FIFA is thus considering alternatives, including the possibility of hosting the football competition in London.
“The World Cup must not take place in Qatar.”
– Mohammad al-Sheikh