Voices from the Arab press: The so called 'Axis of resistance'

A roundup of this week's Arab media.

A man carries a giant flag made of flags of Iran, Palestine, Syria and Hezbollah, during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, Feburary 2016 (photo credit: RAHEB HOMAVANDI/REUTERS)
A man carries a giant flag made of flags of Iran, Palestine, Syria and Hezbollah, during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, Feburary 2016
Al-Arab, London, July 10
When Iranian- and Hezbollah-backed forces joined hands with the Syrian regime to crush the Syrian opposition, their stated goal was to “liberate the Golan” and “pave the way to Jerusalem.” Today, over seven years later, it is clear beyond any doubt that these promises were nothing but empty slogans, used to deflect attention away from the real goal at hand: maintaining Bashar Assad’s rule at any cost. The extent of damage and destruction that this so-called “Axis of Resistance” has brought upon the Syrian people is simply unfathomable. No terrorist organization in the world can even begin to be compared in its brutality to the callousness of Assad’s gangs, which indiscriminately killed thousands of innocent civilians. These forces have been so proud of the Russian support they received that they gave Putin the affectionate nickname “Abu Ali,” which is used in Arabic to describe someone who is tough. Yet this “tough” partner is the very same person who colluded with Israel and protected Tel Aviv’s interests in Syria. It is Putin, after all, who safeguarded the right of Israeli warplanes to freely operate in Syrian airspace. It is Putin who, similarly, insisted that Hezbollah and Iranian forces be kept away from the Israeli border. This did not seem to bother members of this axis, whose sole objective was to wreak havoc and weaken the Syrian opposition. They watched as Israel gained guarantees from the Russians time and again, enhancing its control in the Golan and its foothold in Syria. We have seen Russian-provided missiles directed against Syrian citizens; not Israeli towns and cities. We’ve witnessed barrel bombs dropped from planes against Syrian refugees fleeing their homes; not against Israeli or American soldiers. This so-called “road to Jerusalem” is one big sham. It is a mere deception of the Arab people, meant to portray the Iranian militias and the Hezbollah fighters as defenders of the Syrian people. In reality, they are their biggest enemies. Assad gave the Israelis two big gifts: first, control over the Golan Heights; second, a front-row seat to a catastrophic war against his own people. Putin is neither his friend, nor his protector. He is a culprit in one of the biggest tragedies experienced by the Arab world.
– Ali Amin
Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, July 14
One observing the European frenzy to appease the Iranian regime – in particular, the European attempt to salvage the nuclear deal at any cost – can’t help but question why, and how, the Iranians have won such preferential treatment. I’m saying this specifically in the context of the recently-uncovered Iranian cell that operated in Europe and planned an attack in France. 
How can European leaders ignore these severe threats on their very own sovereignty and continue negotiating with the Iranian foreign minister as if nothing has happened?
Think about this: When we hear of attempts to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe by organizations like the Islamic State, we are often met with shock and rage. We expect security authorities to do anything possible to foil such attacks on European soil. 
Yet, here, at very same time in which Iranian diplomats are meeting their European counterparts and talking about political agreements, Iranian agents are roaming the streets of Europe unhindered, planning attacks that could kill scores of European citizens. And the authorities are doing absolutely nothing! The uncovered Iranian cell made use of the wide network of Iranian embassies in Europe to plan an attack against a conference held by the Iranian opposition in one of Paris’s suburbs. 
French authorities, which caught and arrested two of the terrorists, didn’t even throw them in jail. Instead, they put them on the first outbound flight from Paris to Tehran, and tried to hide the issue. I wouldn’t be surprised if the terrorists flew first class. This kind of weak response not only strengthens the radical forces in Iran, but also harms Europe’s national security. Above all, it is a betrayal of the European people. Despite the desire to reach a political solution with Iran, European leaders cannot forsake the interests of their very own people.
– Hameed Barami
Al-Ayaam, Ramallah, July 12
Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman signed an order designating the Palestinian satellite news channel Al-Quds as a terrorist organization, and ordered its closure. This would not be the first time that the Occupation is trying to target this channel. It has done so multiple times in the past. It is important to note that, today, dozens of news channels and radio stations operate in the occupied West Bank. Generally speaking, the Occupation agrees to provide them with permits in an attempt to protect Israel’s label as the so-called “only democracy” in the Middle East. However, when a news channel occasionally upsets an Israeli official – either by confronting them with the truth, or by airing controversial footage – then it often jeopardizes its ability to stay in business. The Al-Quds channel has certainly been the target of Israeli threats and intimidation. Despite repeated Israeli attempts to blackmail station officials, the Palestinian channel remained steadfast in its commitment to pushing the Palestinian narrative of the conflict into the fore. It provided live documentation of the Palestinians’ daily struggles under the brutal hand of the Occupation. It followed the situation in Gaza during four wars with the Occupation Forces. Since its launch in 2008, the station has been extremely successful at gaining a wide following in the Arab world; an accomplishment that clearly irritated and worried the Israeli minister of defense. When the station’s offices in Ramallah were sacked by the Occupation a few years ago, its employees quickly regrouped and returned to their jobs. When the station’s offices in Jerusalem were closed overnight, its dedicated reporters worked from their homes and brought live coverage from makeshift locations. This is why I know with certainty that Al-Quds will continue to prevail and thrive, despite this most recent decision by the Occupation Forces to shut it down. Al-Quds has become synonymous with the Palestinian Resistance. And just like the Resistance, it cannot be brought down by a court order. It lives in the hearts and minds of the Palestinian public, and it shall endure and prevail despite the will to silence it. – Ahmad Hajj Ali
Al-Etihad, UAE, July 7
Now that the European summit of heads of state has been concluded, we can look back at the meetings held in Brussels in an attempt to understand what was decided there. Unfortunately, the language employed in the various statements that were published in the summit’s aftermath is very confusing. It seems as if Europe’s leaders, knowing that their differences far outweigh their areas of agreement, chose to stick to ambiguous jargon in their press releases. Some leaders, for example, claimed that a decision was made to financially assist countries that receive a large number of refugees. 
Other leaders, meanwhile, insisted that no financial benefits would be given to host countries and, instead, refugees would be resettled in other parts of Europe. All of these conflicting messages join an already long list of disagreements among European leaders over how to best deal with the refugee situation that emerged in the continent in the past few years. 
However, what is most interesting to note is that data from the European Commission actually suggest that the refugee crisis has been winding down, with fewer than 60,000 asylum seekers arriving in Europe this year, compared to over a million individuals at the peak of the crisis. In other words, the current situation is almost a non-issue in relative terms. Yet the rise of nationalistic governments in countries like Italy, Hungary, Austria and Poland has turned the migrant crisis into one of the most politicized topics in Europe. European leaders use the migrant issue as an intra-European bashing tool to garner support and popularity at home. Within this wave of populist politics, ranging all the way from Moscow to Washington, the EU is facing an ever-growing risk of disintegrating. Years of European unity and an attempt to bring the continent toward an ever-closer union are quickly unraveling, leaving more questions than answers about what’s in store next for European states and their relations with one another.
– Hazem Saghiya