Voices from the Arab Press: The new horizons of our region

Our region is desperate for a new kind of rhetoric and a new kind of political leadership that is unlikely to emerge from the monotony and fear we are immersed in.

US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir and other dignitaries in Riyadh earlier this month. (photo credit: REUTERS)
US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir and other dignitaries in Riyadh earlier this month.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, January 19
2011 was a watershed year in the Arab world. Arab youth across the region took the streets and demanded accountability from their leaders. They established communication platforms that enabled them to join hands and unite around specific causes.
Fast forward to where we are today: there are no initiatives, no plans and no leaders offering hope. Qatar has become the financial and political hub from which misinformation campaigns are launched against every single country in the Gulf. Tehran has expanded its involvement in the region and launched bloody wars designed to undermine the sovereignty of multiple nation states. The model introduced to the Arab world in 2011 proved to be a clear disaster, as it failed to bring about any real change or prevent radical regimes from imposing their agendas.
Our region is desperate for a new kind of rhetoric and a new kind of political leadership that is unlikely to emerge from the monotony and fear we are immersed in; rather, it needs to be a project that will not only defend the idea of the nation-state but also rid our region of extremism.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is the answer to this call. It is a vision that focuses not on our past but on our future. It is a detailed plan that outlines actions that will set our region on the right path forward. It is not based on empty promises for a better future but on real reforms that are already taking place.
At a recent investment forum in Riyadh, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman spoke about his vision and the benefit it would bring to Arab youth around the region. He spoke of collaborations between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and other states. Anyone sitting in the audience could notice the passion in the crown prince’s eyes. The Middle East has historically lacked effective and influential role models, especially ones that preach moderation and modernization.
Crown Prince bin Salman may very well be the first leader to challenge this reality. He is unwaveringly committed to promoting the prosperity of our people through investments in education, technology, culture and innovation. He represents a new mindset that is quickly spreading throughout the Middle East. Indeed, he is continuously pushing and expanding the horizons of our region. – Muhammad al-Sayed
Al-Etiahd, UAE, January 18
At about the same time that the French “yellow vest” demonstrations marked their tenth week, the British Parliament voted against the agreement reached between Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union regarding the terms and conditions of Britain’s exit from the bloc. Despite the fact that these two occasions are remarkably different, there is one fundamental similarity: a profound crisis in two of the main European models of democracy.
It is well known that modern politics emerged from these two great countries, Britain and France, whose histories, despite giving rise to two distinct systems, are so deeply intertwined. In Britain, the constitutional revolution of the 17th century took place in the context of a gradual process of religious and political reform that led to the emergence of strong representative institutions revolving around a parliamentary system, while France resisted religious reform and launched a bloody revolution that led to the formation of a central republic.
In Britain, the political arena was divided into two opposing camps that exist to this very day: conservatives, who rejected government intervention in the economy and sought to promote free markets, and liberals, who focused on social justice and human rights. In the middle were politicians who sought to pursue the so-called “third way” that offered a delicate balance between the two. Today, however, these two models are facing a major shakeup, whether in the Labor Party, dominated by a populist left-winger, or the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Theresa May.
In France, where the liberal movement was never strong, the political arena has been divided between two poles: a national Left and a radical Left. Thus, Nicolas Sarkozy’s move to unify the Right, and the attempt of his successor Francois Hollande to reform the Left, both collapsed during the 2017 elections, giving rise to current President Emmanuel Macron. The current political upheaval in both countries represents both publics’ complete loss of faith in their respective political systems.
Whether on the Left or Right, people are suspicious of their leaders and their respective efforts on European integration. They want to prioritize their own domestic problems above those of other EU member states. In order to protect Europe’s democratic institutions, European leaders, especially those in the UK and France, will have to think of effective ways to gain renewed confidence in their political systems. Until then, they will continue facing internal pressure and political upheaval. – Ould Abah
Al-Chorouk, Algeria, January 17
A few weeks ago, during Christmas celebrations in the city of Haifa, a group of Israelis vandalized a sign bearing a photo of Jesus Christ and turned him into an offensive cartoon. They did so as if they were reminiscing over the days in which their ancestors hunted down Jesus Christ in the hills and mountains of Palestine in an effort to fight Christianity.
Today, these very same people are hunting down Muslims in the same land, humiliating them in their holiest place of worship in Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Now, too, they do so in an effort to erase a religion that isn’t their own. Indeed, the Israeli regime has gone to great lengths to remove any Christian and Muslim marks from the land. This includes raiding and looting homes, killing children and detaining hundreds of innocent civilians.
Israel’s advocates often refer to it as the so-called only “democracy” in the Middle East, but the reality is that it is far from it. Unfortunately, many Arab states fail to see this basic reality and rush, instead, to normalize ties with Israel. However, Israel epitomizes an unprecedented kind of racism, one that is enshrined in law. Israeli settlers kill defenseless Palestinians; Israeli Occupation soldiers attack Palestinian communities with inhumane weapons such as white phosphorous and uranium bombs.
The existence of the Zionist entity called Israel is a crime. Its mission is to take over the entire Arab world, one city at a time. Instead of understanding the gravity of this threat, the Arab world is turning a blind eye to Israel.
How is it possible for Muslim and Christian leaders around the world to embrace Israel when it is so blatantly undermining people’s rights? How can they view Israel as a legitimate member of the international community when it consistently desecrates Muslim and Christian sites in Palestine in an effort to promote Judaism?
There are millions of displaced Palestinians around the world in a wide range of countries. Despite being geographically separated, they all share the same steadfastness and determination to return to their homes and bring an end to the crimes of the Zionist regime. – Saleh Awad
Al-Araby al-Jadid, London, January 17
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently returned from the Middle East without having achieved the purpose of his trip. In his effort to confront Iran, Pompeo ran into many issues along the way: with the Kurds, the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Israelis, the Emiratis and the Turks. But despite facing these unexpected challenges, as well as continuously reacting to the whims of his president, Pompeo still got a lot done.
He managed to put together a large coalition of states that have committed to further isolating Tehran and increasing the pressure on its regime. The goal of the American effort is to now grow this coalition from a few dozen countries to over 70 nations. While the Iranians believe this will not happen, since most countries have already rejected the initiative, Pompeo is determined to prove the mullahs wrong. This should certainly provide reason for concern, since even the European Union, Iran’s staunchest defender, has started questioning Tehran’s ability to uphold the [2015 nuclear] deal.
This has become even more apparent after Pompeo revealed Tehran’s plots to assassinate Iranian political dissidents on European soil. Next month, the United States is set to host a global conference focused on Iran in Poland, bringing together representatives from all over Europe in an effort to reach a common stance. This will undoubtedly promote Pompeo’s campaign and tighten the noose around the mullahs’ necks. Unfortunately, Pompeo’s biggest challenge remains in the Gulf, where internal disputes prevent leaders from rallying around America and adopting a joint stance on Iran.
This is rather unfortunate. The biggest beneficiaries of renewed pressure on Tehran would be the Gulf states, where Iran’s involvement has caused widespread instability. Pompeo might thus have to return to the region before the conference takes place to continue his shuttle diplomacy. With a bit of effort and acts of good faith, the United States can once and for all isolate Iran in the international arena and force it to abandon its sinister military plans.
Adel Suleiman
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