VOICES FROM THE ARAB PRESS

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

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - ARAB MEDIA - COM­PILED BY THE ME­DIA LINE

SE­CRET TIES BE­TWEEN RIYADH AND TEL AVIV

Al-Khaleej al-Ja­did, UAE, Oc­to­ber 24

While the rap­proche­ment be­tween Is­rael and Saudi Ara­bia is still kept un­der the ta­ble, it is be­com­ing less of a se­cret than in the past. One day, in the not-so-dis­tant fu­ture, the grow­ing ties might even be made pub­lic

“Me­dia re­ports re­cently re­vealed the de­tails of a dra­matic event in the Mid­dle East: a se­cret visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mo­ham­mad bin Sal­man to Is­rael.

“Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral Is­raeli sources, the prince em­barked on the two-day trip last month in or­der strengthen the grow­ing part­ner­ship be­tween Riyadh and Tel Aviv. Nor is it the first meet­ing of its kind – sev­eral Is­raeli in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, army of­fi­cers, and even cab­i­net mem­bers pre­vi­ously met with Saudi del­e­gates. So what is at the core of th­ese warm­ing ties? Why has Saudi Ara­bia sud­denly shifted its at­ti­tude to­ward Is­rael?

“The answer is mul­ti­fac­eted. First and fore­most, Iran is a com­mon en­emy of both Riyadh and Tel Aviv. The two coun­tries see eye-to-eye on al­most all mat­ters per­tain­ing to Tehran – namely, the need to curb its ac­tiv­ity in the re­gion, tame its regime, and limit the spread of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps through­out the Mid­dle East.

“But there are other mo­ti­va­tions for this rap­proche­ment that might be less ob­vi­ous. For ex­am­ple, both na­tions face a grow­ing threat of terrorism and the Saudi armed forces have a lot to learn from their Is­raeli coun­ter­parts in this re­gard. Mean­while, Saudi Ara­bia, much to Is­rael’s plea­sure, has pub­licly de­nounced Ha­mas as a ter­ror­ist group. By work­ing more closely with Is­rael, the Saudis are also hop­ing to re­vamp their po­lice and mil­i­tary forces. Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral re­ports, Is­rael has al­ready agreed to ex­port weaponry to Riyadh, in­clud­ing ad­vanced mis­sile warn­ing sys­tems.

“Fi­nally, there is the most im­por­tant mo­ti­va­tion: Prince Sal­man is de­ter­mined to rein­vent Saudi Ara­bia’s im­age and rid the king­dom of its ties to terrorism. By align­ing with Is­rael, he is hop­ing to win over lead­ing mem­bers of the US Congress and even Jewish or­ga­ni­za­tions in Amer­ica. In other words, the two coun­tries seem to have en­tered a new era in their bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship. While the rap­proche­ment is still kept un­der the ta­ble, it is be­com­ing less of a se­cret than in the past. One day, in the not-so-dis­tant fu­ture, the grow­ing ties might even be made pub­lic.” – Saleh al-Noami

A TRUE SAUDI REVO­LU­TION

Asharq al-Awsat, Lon­don, Oc­to­ber 26

“Saudi Ara­bia is un­der­go­ing noth­ing short of a his­toric revo­lu­tion right be­fore our eyes.

“The coura­geous speech given by Crown Prince Mo­ham­mad Bin Sal­man last week in which he swore to fight all ex­trem­ism, in­clud­ing rad­i­cal Is­lam in the king­dom, is a true mile­stone in the Arab world. We must un­der­stand the mag­ni­tude of the prince’s words – Sal­man has a vi­sion for Saudi Ara­bia and is will­ing to go to great lengths to ac­tu­al­ize it.

“The House of Saud has re­al­ized that in or­der to en­sure sta­bil­ity in the coun­try and the fu­ture pros­per­ity of gen­er­a­tions to come, Saudi Ara­bia must be trans­formed. In an hon­est, con­cise and brave speech, the prince vowed to do ex­actly that: to move Saudi Ara­bia for­ward ir­re­spec­tive of those who try to stand in the way, in­clud­ing Mus­lims with ex­trem­ist in­ter­pre­ta­tions of re­li­gious texts. Saudi Ara­bia is set­ting an ex­am­ple for other Arab coun­tries by call­ing for a more mod­er­ate form of Is­lam, with the prince hav­ing al­ready an­nounced a se­ries of laws that will al­low au­thor­i­ties to bet­ter iden­tify and elim­i­nate ex­trem­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions. Riyadh also cut ties to Qatar for as long as the lat­ter con­tin­ues sup­port­ing rad­i­cal groups in the re­gion.

“The king­dom has launched a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy to­ward any­one at­tempt­ing to hin­der the coun­try from be­com­ing an in­clu­sive place for mem­bers of all re­li­gions and back­grounds.”

– Ab­dul­rah­man al-Rashed

THE MAGHREB: THE NEXT STOP FOR ISIS AND IRAN?

Al-Dos­tour, Jordan, Oc­to­ber 27

“North African lead­ers are grow­ing in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the prospect of Is­lamic State and even Iran, show­ing up at their doorsteps.

“Af­ter ISIS lost its stronghold­s in Iraq and Syria, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has shifted its fo­cus to the North Africa, work­ing as­sid­u­ously to es­tab­lish a foothold in coun­tries such as Egypt, Morocco, Tu­nisia and Libya. In an ef­fort to pre­vent at­tacks within their ter­ri­to­ries, se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties in some North African coun­tries have started con­duct­ing wide­spread cam­paigns against ter­ror­ist in­fra­struc­ture. In Egypt, close to 30 mem­bers of the lo­cal ISIS af­fil­i­ate were killed last week in a mil­i­tary raid. In Morocco, a cell of some 20 Is­lamists was re­cently un­cov­ered, its mem­bers jailed fol­low­ing a tele­vised trial. In Libya, au­thor­i­ties con­tinue to mon­i­tor the borders closely for any sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity.

“How­ever, one un­wel­come guest seems to have walked straight through the front door: Iran. Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif re­cently vis­ited North Africa, call­ing on lead­ers there to work more closely with Tehran. Iran’s mo­tives for this move re­main, as al­ways, largely un­known, yet its emer­gence in the re­gion is a source of con­cern. In fact, the Al­ge­rian gov­ern­ment, fear­ing a restive Shi’ite mi­nor­ity in the coun­try, has started com­pil­ing a data­base of its ci­ti­zens ac­cord­ing to re­li­gion. You can be cer­tain that Al­ge­rian of­fi­cials are closely lis­ten­ing to the ser­mons em­a­nat­ing from of Shi’ite mosques, while be­ing care­ful not to dam­age frag­ile re­la­tions with lead­ers of the Shi’ite com­mu­nity.”

“It seems as though seven years af­ter the Arab Spring, the real up­heaval in North Africa might only be be­gin­ning.” – Mam­duh al-Mi­hini

THE GCC IS ALIVE AND KICK­ING

Al-Rai, Kuwait, Oc­to­ber 23

“With the 39th an­nual Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC) sum­mit sched­uled to take place in Kuwait City next month, sources have re­vealed that Kuwait is try­ing to post­pone the meet by six weeks in or­der to re­solve the cur­rent cri­sis with Qatar. The hope is that a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal could be reached within that time­frame, al­low­ing Doha to par­tic­i­pate in the con­fer­ence with its neigh­bors.

“Saudi of­fi­cials, mean­while, re­it­er­ated their com­mit­ment to hold­ing the event as sched­uled, sug­gest­ing even that it would be hosted in Riyadh if Kuwait re­fuses to abide by the schedule. Ei­ther way, one must ac­knowl­edge that the GCC is alive and well. All GCC mem­ber states – the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain, Saudi Ara­bia, Oman and Kuwait – agree that Qatar must mend its ways be­fore it can be al­lowed back into the or­ga­ni­za­tion, and the up­com­ing sum­mit is a prime op­por­tu­nity for mod­er­ate Gulf lead­ers to re­mind ci­ti­zens of the Coun­cil’s found­ing prin­ci­ple; namely, the be­lief in mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion and sup­port for its mem­bers.

“The Qatari gov­ern­ment, along with its me­dia out­let Al Jazeera, has been spread­ing its toxic agenda, with Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, hav­ing re­peat­edly re­fused to lis­ten to what those around him have ad­vised: stop with the terrorism and re­unite with your neigh­bors. The con­fer­ence will there­fore be used as a plat­form to re­mind the Qatari gov­ern­ment and its peo­ple of what must be done to re­store nor­mal ties with the GCC – to ter­mi­nate ties with the Ira­nian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, limit Al Jazeera’s hos­tile cov­er­age, ex­tra­dite con­victed ter­ror­ists to their coun­tries of ori­gin and reaf­firm a com­mit­ment to the sovereignt­y of re­gional states.

“With­out ac­cept­ing th­ese ba­sic de­mands, Qatar and its peo­ple will re­main os­tra­cized and the GCC will con­tinue to func­tion with or with­out them. Over the next few weeks, how­ever, Doha might be urged to re­ex­am­ine its ways.” – Sawsan al-Shaar

(Is­mail Zi­touny/ Reuters)

A MEM­BER of Libyan forces al­lied with the UN-backed gov­ern­ment looks through a pair of binoc­u­lars dur­ing a pa­trol to pre­vent an Is­lamic State resur­gence on the out­skirts of Sirte, Libya, in Au­gust.

(Ha­mad I Mo­hammed/Reuters)

SAUDI CROWN Prince Mo­ham­mad bin Sal­man at­tends the Fu­ture In­vest­ment Ini­tia­tive con­fer­ence in Riyadh last week.

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