Many voices within the Arab world have rejected the United States’ so-called “Deal of the Century.”

SYRIAN REFUGEES sit on the breakwater in Spain’s north African enclave Melilla. (photo credit: REUTERS)
SYRIAN REFUGEES sit on the breakwater in Spain’s north African enclave Melilla.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Etihad, UAE, June 27
Many voices within the Arab world have rejected the United States’ so-called “Deal of the Century.” We have seen demonstrators take to the streets in different Arab capitals, holding signs and lifting banners with slogans rejecting territorial concessions in Palestine. But once these protests are over, will these individuals translate their words into actions? Or will they simply fold their banners and return home, abandoning the Palestinian cause in the exact same way it has been abandoned time and again over the past century?
What leaves me most perplexed is the following: Do these young men and women have any awareness of other Arab territories occupied by foreign powers? Ceuta and Melilla, for example, are two Arab cities on the northern coast of Morocco that are still colonized by Spain. They are considered sovereign Spanish territories and are represented in the Spanish parliament. Spanish authorities view the status of these cities as identical to that of Gibraltar, which is a Spanish territory administered and controlled by Britain. If Spain receives its rightful ownership back on Gibraltar, it will consider returning Ceuta and Melilla back to Morocco.
And this isn’t the only example. There is Iskenderun, a city on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, which was an integral part of Syria. In 1939, French troops who occupied the city held a referendum and decided to hand it over to Turkey. They did so to pressure Turkey against joining Germany and the Axis countries during the world war. Sadly, this piece of land remains under Turkish control to this very day.
Then there is Iran. The Khuzestan Province, located on the tip of the Arab Gulf, served for many years as an Arab emirate known as “Arabistan.” In the late 1920s, however, Reza Shah expelled the province’s Arab governor and took over the land, seeking to exploit its numerous oil fields. The territory was absorbed into Iran and remains in its control until today. In more recent history, Iran attempted to forcibly take over the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, belonging to the UAE, after British forces evacuated the islands in 1971.
Unfortunately, this list of examples goes on and on. Too many Arab territories have been stolen from their rightful owners and reclaimed by other nations. Sadly, one of our biggest problems today is that younger generations aren’t even aware of these territorial disputes. They are only aware of what they hear and read about in the news. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Arab world has lost interest in reclaiming the lands it once rightfully owned.
– Abbas Al-Tarabili
Al-Shorouk, Egypt, June 28
I urge you: Do not be apologetic to Amr Warda. It will be bad for all of us if the Egyptian Football Federation (EFA) reneges on its decision to expel the football player, accused of sexual harassment, from the national team. We all understand his teammates’ solidarity and their desire to see their colleague continue to play by their side. This is understandable. But what isn’t understandable is their excuse: “We all make mistakes,” they say, “so why must we sacrifice a talented player?”
Well, the short answer is the following: If we don’t sacrifice the player, we will sacrifice our morals and values. Yes, Warda issued an apology to the women he assaulted. That was a necessary step. But it does not exonerate him for his actions; it does not provide him with automatic impunity. Warda cannot simply walk back onto the playing field as if nothing ever happened. That would lead to much greater damage to society than the damage inflicted upon the Egyptian team by losing one of its players.
It is appalling that people in our society excuse Warda’s disgraceful behavior by arguing that many other men act in similar ways. This excuse is simply unacceptable. First, because we should be ridding our society of sexual harassment and assault. And second, because even if such behavior exists among us, it should never be “celebrated” by a public figure of Warda’s caliber. Yes, it is true: Some ordinary citizens take drugs, but if a famous star does that, we suddenly begin to talk about drug damage. Many Egyptian men harass women, but when a star does it, we destroy his reputation. Still, we cannot use these incidents as excuses to pardon celebrities or stars.
The reason is simply that the actions of the ordinary individual – whether he robs, embezzles, or assaults – affects only himself and perhaps his family. But the actions of Amr Warda affect the millions of people who love him and follow him, including thousands of children who view him as a role model. We would be better served by worshiping and admiring stars with a clean track record of ethical and moral behavior than excusing Warda for his despicable behavior. He must not be allowed back on the team.
– Emaad al-Din Hussein
ISTANBUL MAYOR Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) addresses supporters from atop a bus outside city hall in Istanbul on June 27.  (Credit: HUSEYIN ALDEMIR/REUTERS)ISTANBUL MAYOR Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) addresses supporters from atop a bus outside city hall in Istanbul on June 27. (Credit: HUSEYIN ALDEMIR/REUTERS)
Al-Anba, Kuwait, June 28
Why did Kuwait refrain from attending the Manama workshop? Why was it the only Gulf state to boycott the conference? I’m reminded of the Camp David years and the disagreements that soon ensued throughout the Arab world. Arab leaders were divided on how to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These disagreements resulted in a split within the Arab world between a moderate camp that supported the process, and a hard-line camp that objected to the process.
The latter called itself the “front of steadfastness and confrontation.” Kuwait and a wide host of other Gulf states placed themselves within the moderate camp, while the “the front” consisted of revolutionary states such as Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Syria and South Yemen. The latter believed that Palestine would only be liberated through war. Forty years have gone by and this so-called “front” has slowly disappeared while its leaders evaporated from the world. Needless to say, they did not liberate a single grain of sand of Palestinian soil; they did not fire a single bullet or pick up a single weapon for the liberation of Palestine.
By abstaining from attending the Manama workshop, the Kuwaiti government today is seeking to compensate for what it lost 40 years ago when it failed to join the resistance camp. By defying the Gulf states’ consensus on the workshop, Kuwait is making a political statement. This is a ridiculous attempt to rewrite history and put Kuwait on the correct side of the political map. It would have been much wiser for Kuwait to send a delegate to Manama and shape the conference’s results through talks and negotiations. Boycotting the conference from the very outset only served to harm the reputation of Kuwait and undermine its relations with the United States. I feel very sorry for how Kuwait conducted itself in this instance. It does not line up with its usual policies of moderation and support of collaborative regional efforts.
– Saleh Al-Shayji
Al-Arab, London, June 26
In Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan rose to power. And in Istanbul began his fall: a man who believed that he, alone, could change the nature of the Turkish political system and consolidate all constitutional powers in his own hands. Erdogan was able to combine the authority of the president and the prime minister into one position.
He became an autocratic ruler whose power outweighed that of any other politician. But in the recent local elections held in the country, Erdogan lost control over Istanbul for the second time in three months.
Winning Istanbul’s mayorship was of special importance to Erdogan’s party. It was a symbolic victory it needed. But the election of the opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu sent an important message to the Turkish leader: The people of Istanbul reject not only his 16-year rule, but also his Muslim Brotherhood-like politics that have changed the face of Turkish society. Erdogan wanted to show that he could secure Turkey’s expansion in all directions and restore the glory days of the Ottoman Empire. He counted on the Muslim Brotherhood to help him achieve this goal. But in the process, he failed to see that the Brotherhood is nothing more than a weak organization that is incapable of overseeing a modern state and its institutions.
The first time Ekrem Imamoglu won the Istanbul municipal elections, his victory over his rival, Binali Yildirim, stood at 13,500 votes. Between March 31, when elections were held for the first time, and June 23, when elections were held for the second time, this difference jumped to 800,000 votes. If this proves anything, it shows that the Turkish people know perfectly well that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a failed politician. Erdogan has proved to be just another Brotherhood bully with no limits to his desire to consolidate wealth and power, including within his own party. Erdogan himself, when he was mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s, claimed that “he who loses Istanbul loses Turkey.” He is now on his way to losing Turkey, whose people resisted a clear attempt to impose a new dictatorship on the country similar to the military dictatorship of the 1980s.
Turkey did not emerge from that dictatorship only to fall under the dictatorship of the Muslim Brotherhood. That is the clear message that the people of Istanbul wanted to convey to the Turkish president. This is the beginning of the end for Erdogan, who turned out to be another Third-World dictator whose thirst for power can never be quenched. Erdogan fell into the trap of the Muslim Brotherhood and set the Turkish economy, its foreign affairs and its social progress decades back. He failed to learn from his mistakes. He became drunk with power and thought he could sweep his failures under the rug. But the elections proved him wrong.
– Kheir Allah Kheir Allah
The Media Line