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

A GROUP of Hezbollah women supporters attend a rally near a poster of assassinated Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in downtown Beirut in December 2006. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A GROUP of Hezbollah women supporters attend a rally near a poster of assassinated Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in downtown Beirut in December 2006.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Okaz, Saudi Arabia, February 17
When people talk about women in Saudi Arabia, they typically fall into one of two categories: They either truly care about women’s rights and seek to promote them in the kingdom, or, sadly more often than not, they simply want to disparage the kingdom and undermine its efforts to integrate women into society.
Recently, we have been witnessing growing attacks against Saudi Arabia on the grounds that it is “oppressing women.” It is funny that many of these accusations were voiced on news stations associated with none other than the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, whose views on women are well known.
The latest attack on Saudi Arabia now revolves around a government services portal known as “Absher.” The portal, which offers more than 160 online services – such as renewing one’s national identification card, issuing a driver’s license, or ordering a new passport – has recently released a phone-based application designed to improve the quality of services.
Instead of celebrating the ingenuity of the Saudi government, these groups that claim to defend women’s rights have appealed to Google and Apple in an effort to ban the mobile app on the grounds that it “oppresses” women. Their argument is that it helps Saudi authorities track the activities of women, including their travel abroad, and helps tie them more closely to their husbands.
These accusations are, of course, ludicrous. Anyone who has ever visited Saudi Arabia knows that Saudi women can travel unhindered. A quick look at the flights leaving Riyadh on a daily basis will reveal hundreds of Saudi women traveling alone. Instead of celebrating the efforts of the Saudi government to make its services accessible to all via their phones, these groups work to delegitimize the very existence of the Saudi state.
These stories have nothing to do with women’s empowerment. They have nothing to do with human rights. These are orchestrated campaigns launched by dark forces against the Arab world’s most advanced and progressive society, which has made it its goal to improve and enhance the welfare of its people – particularly its female citizens. – Radwan al-Sayed
Ad-Dustour, Jordan, February 14
“We will accept whatever the Palestinians accept” is a slogan we’ve heard coming from several Arab leaders at different times in history and in various circumstances. It seems to have become a rule of thumb when forming an Arab position on the Palestinian cause. When in doubt, an Arab leader may simply assert that he stands behind whatever it is that the Palestinians believe.
However, this hasn’t always been the case. Arab governments have notoriously pressured the Palestinian leadership to make significant concessions throughout history. Arab states would claim to stand behind the Palestinian people, only to force their own opinions on the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
Today, as more and more states choose to normalize ties with Israel, leading to a weakening in the Arab position on Palestine, this mantra has again resurfaced. But this time it may very well be a good thing. As US President Donald Trump works on devising his so-called “deal of the century” behind the Palestinians’ backs and without their consent, reminding the American administration that the Arab world stands united behind the redlines imposed by the Palestinian leadership is crucial. It sends an important message to the world that, although the Arab position on Palestine is not as unified as it has historically been, Arab leaders remain unwilling to turn their backs on their Palestinian brethren.
The Palestinian people are not looking for sympathy or special favors. They can defend and represent themselves. What they do need, however, is for Arab governments to stay away from their internal affairs and, at the very least, recognize the Palestinian leadership as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Regional initiatives that plan on imposing an external solution on the people of Palestine without their formal consent should be dismissed by anyone who claims to support the Palestinian cause.
The very least the Arab world can do for the Palestinian people is follow the example of Jordan and remind the world of the injustices of the Israeli occupation and urge support for the Palestinian leadership’s legitimacy and sovereignty. The Palestinian people can deal with the rest themselves. – Areeb al-Rantawi
Al-Ayyam, Ramallah, February 15
An American tourist traveling around the world in search of the positive impact his country’s foreign aid has provided will struggle with what he finds. US funds and aid money encourage dependence on others and adversely affect the economic well-being of many countries. It causes decreased productivity and even limited self-sufficiency. It leads to laziness and reduces creativity.
Foreign aid is first granted innocently, but it quickly becomes a powerful tool for growing US involvement in the internal affairs of the recipient state. Slowly, the United States intervenes and influences decision-makers in these countries, often attracting some to work in its security services. Soon enough, the country becomes a hub for US intelligence. A few years later, the state falls completely into the hands of the United States, which can change its government at any time it deems appropriate.
The US financial aid to the Palestinian Authority is no different. The American aid to the Palestinian people was designed from the very outset to serve the Zionist entity at the expense of the people of Palestine. People first celebrated this aid because they were lured by the benefits of the Oslo Accords and the money it brought into the West Bank. But what most people didn’t notice is that the American aid was directed almost exclusively to the Palestinian Security Services, which were entrusted with disarming the Palestinian people and defending Zionists from the evils of so-called terrorists.
Therefore, the American decision to cut aid to Palestine is great news. It is a wake-up call that we all needed. It will push the Palestinian people to be more reliant and creative. It will encourage local production and consumption. But most importantly, it will allow us to finally rid ourselves of any fake commitments to America. We will be able to call things as they are and restore our ability to make our own decisions. The less aid money we receive from the United States, the freer and less corrupt we are.
Eliminating this aid provides us with more liberty to stand up to the Israeli occupation and renew our battle to liberate our lands. – Abdul Sattar Kassem
Al-Arab, London, February 15
It is difficult for anyone who loves and cares about Lebanon to recall the assassination of prime minister Rafik Hariri 14 years ago this week. This horrific crime changed the course of our nation for years, if not decades.
Sadly, Hariri’s Lebanon, which was meant to be a thriving sovereign state, has fallen under the guardianship of Iran and its mullahs. The situation has become so bleak that on his recent visit to Lebanon, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described Lebanon as a close ally of Iran. Zarif came to Beirut not in the interest of the Lebanese people, but in the interest of Iran. He has seen his country’s hard work pay off: Lebanon has turned into another one of Iran’s proxy states. Zarif spoke about arming the country against Israel. But what is the value of Iranian weapons, if we cannot exercise our own sovereignty?
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is well aware of the fact that the Iranians stood behind the killing of his father, remains one of the last Lebanese people standing in defense of our nation. He is unafraid to speak truth as it is. He has the courage to point fingers at Iran and warn the Lebanese public of what it is doing to our country.
Lebanon was always sought by Iran. When Saad went to Tehran in 2010 as prime minister, the Iranians demanded three things of him: that he sign a defense treaty with Iran, allow Iranian citizens to enter Lebanon without visas, and that he allow Iran entry into the Lebanese banking system. He opposed all three proposals and paid the ultimate price for it.
Today, it becomes clearer than ever before why his father was right. The latter immediately recognized the Iranian expansionist project and rejected it. He did everything in his power to stand up to the mullahs. Fourteen years after his death, Rafik is missed more than ever before. As Iran extends its influence in Lebanese politics and society, what we are desperately missing is the steadfastness and patriotism of the belated Rafik Hariri. – Kheir Allah