Voices of the Arab Press: Stay at home!

While most countries around the world are busy dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the mullah regime in Tehran remains indifferent to the death and suffering of millions of people.

Alexandria, Egypt (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Alexandria, Egypt
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Al-Arab, London, March 30
While most countries around the world are busy dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the mullah regime in Tehran remains indifferent to the death and suffering of millions of people.
Instead of dealing with its own problems at home, the Iranian leadership is busy meddling with the internal affairs of its neighbor, Iraq. Over the course of the past few weeks, Iranian militia parties became increasingly concerned with the prospects that Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adnan Al-Zurfi, who was chosen by the president of Iraq without their consent, would dismantle the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces. To combat this move, Shi’ite leaders and their armed militias launched a carefully coordinated political and media campaign against Al-Zurfi, in an effort to spoil his efforts to form a government.
More specifically, they have been aggressively propagating rumors of a military coup in Iraq, claiming that Al-Zurfi is a puppet politician put in office by the Americans in an effort to take over Iraq. This lie was repeated over and over in interviews to various newspapers, as well as over satellite channels in Iraq. As so-called evidence, they pointed to the recent movement of American troops into Iraqi territory, suggesting that it was done in preparation for a full military takeover.
The truth, however, is that Iraq is not on Trump’s agenda. The American president is interested in Iraq only insofar as he cares about its oil. Moreover, the US has the largest deployment of soldiers around the world, with some 450,000 soldiers stationed in 135 countries. The truth is that the only forces likely to stage a coup are those backed by Iran. These militias may very well promote the conspiracy theory of the impending US military coup as a cover-up to violent clashes they are planning throughout Iraq.
– Majed al-Samarrai
Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, March 29
Last week, I called an old friend and a great thinker and asked him, “How are you doing in the midst of this tumultuous coronavirus situation?”
He remained silent for a moment and then asked me, “Have we ever lived at a time like this?” I said no.
“So,” he responded, “this means that we were fortunate enough to spend most of our lives with a sense of safety and contentment, without facing real dangers or threats.”
He continued, “Our problems were different and our crises were less severe. We used to complain about our fates, but now we’re suddenly realizing that everything we complained about in the past was a walk in the park compared to the threat posed upon us by the coronavirus.”
I hung up the phone reflecting on my dear friend’s words. I tried to follow his example and follow in his footsteps, looking at the glass half-full. During normal times, we take the stability and quiet in our lives for granted. It’s only at times of a crisis that we begin to understand how lucky we have been. It occurred to me that if the virus had appeared several centuries ago, life would have been so much more complicated and difficult. Today, science is advancing at an enormous speed and every hour we discover new interventions meant to curb the spread of the disease.
Imposing a quarantine on the general public is far from a tragedy. It is a real necessity, given the current circumstances. We can simply tolerate it and adjust our lives to the new situation until the storm is over. We can communicate with our families, friends and acquaintances through social media and multiple mobile platforms.
Man, of course, hates isolation and needs to communicate with others, but this is available today through online voice and video chats. We can buy discounted Internet packages and stay at home. If we had counted what was spent on coffees, cafes, and hookahs, we would discover that staying at home saves us huge amounts of money!
I urge all of us – old and young, men and women, sick and healthy – stick to your homes and leave them only when absolutely necessary until the storm above us passes and we can return to the normalcy for which we so desperately long.
 – Safya Mustafa Amin
Asharq Al-Awsat, London, March 31
“While the world focuses on fighting the coronavirus epidemic and saving lives, the Houthis have been carrying out the orders of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, by attacking innocent civilians.”
This is how the American ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Gen. John Abizaid, opened his remarks in response to the Houthi missile attack on the Saudi capital, Riyadh, last week. These rocket attacks on Saudi civilian neighborhoods were launched by Houthi terrorist militias from the cities of Sanaa and Saada toward civilian targets in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This was a rather surprising attack after the Saudi coalition forces announced a temporary ceasefire to help the Yemeni people deal with the coronavirus epidemic. The source of amazement is not only because the Houthis reneged on a truce of goodwill, but also because they recently agreed on a prisoner exchange deal with Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the fact of the matter, whether we like it or not, is that the Houthi criminals who take orders from Tehran and Beirut are not concerned with the health of Yemeni people. The Houthis are only focused on their culture of death and annihilation.
Sadly, this turn of events also reveals the utter naiveté of the United Nations, led by Secretary-General Guterres. The UN oversaw the efforts to facilitate a temporary ceasefire in Yemen while ignoring clear signs that Iran will take advantage of it to attack Saudi Arabia. The Houthi militias view the coronavirus epidemic as a unique opportunity to increase their efforts and gain momentum, not as a humanitarian truce.
Those who refuse to understand this basic fact or turn a blind eye to it are empowering extremists at the expense of innocent civilians. We must be realistic in our actions. Wishful thinking will not suffice.
– Meshari Al-Dhaidi
Al-Etihad, UAE, March 31
“We must think of our country as a ship sailing through turbulent oceans. We must all work to maintain order and help it steer to safe waters, because the survival of this ship will enable our own survival.”
These were the words of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the United Arab Emirates, who embodied the vision of leadership and civic duty that characterized the UAE since its establishment. Indeed, the UAE’s DNA calls each and every citizen to exert the utmost efforts to protect the country’s achievements.
I believe that this statement is also the basis on which the UAE government’s policy of emergency and crisis management in general, and risk management in particular, has been applied. This policy has already proven successful since the creation of the National Authority for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management within the organizational structure of the Supreme Council for National Security in May 2007.
There is plentiful evidence for the success of the authority in dealing with emergency situations, especially in the field of health. Three main situations come to mind: The first was while facing the 2009 swine flu (also known as H1N1). The second crisis was in dealing with the 2014 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection. The third crisis is the one we’re currently experiencing with the novel coronavirus (known as COVID-19), which has infected more than a million people worldwide and caused the death of more than 40,000 individuals.
The UAE government, through the National Authority for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management, was quick to respond to COVID-19 by issuing gradual, rational, and calm directives to the public. Therefore, the Emirati public was fully cooperative and well prepared to deal with new measures as they were announced. It is also clear that the government’s careful planning ensured that the business sector was not entirely affected by the spread of the virus, thanks to the Authority’s Business Continuity Protocol, which enabled employees to work from home.
The success of the Emirati government in combating COVID-19 is a striking example of the so-called art of crisis management. The performance of the UAE government and the joint work of all concerned authorities in the country at both the state and federal level allowed us to confront the spread of the virus at an early stage. This greatly protected our citizens and residents from the full damage of the disease.
This echoes the words of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, who noted that in order to increase our national cohesion and continue marching in the path of sustainable development, we must “strengthen the cooperation that exists between federal and local authorities” by ensuring fruitful coordination in promotion of the public interest. The National Authority for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management has undoubtedly followed these orders by confronting the current crisis with a clear, responsible, and transparent strategy.
– Abdullah Mohammed Al-Shaybah
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.