Arab Press

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IS­RAELI CEL­E­BRA­TIONS IN THE HEART OF CAIRO Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, May 24

There is an iconic ho­tel in down­town Cairo fre­quented by the most fa­mous Egyptian writ­ers, ac­tors and artists. Its pres­ti­gious lobby over­looks one of the main squares that was flooded by pro­test­ers dur­ing the Jan­uary 25 [2011] rev­o­lu­tion. Sur­round­ing it are mag­nif­i­cent monuments of mil­i­tary lead­ers who led Egypt in its wars against Is­rael. It is there­fore very cu­ri­ous, and cer­tainly not co­in­ci­den­tal, that the Is­raeli am­bas­sador to Egypt de­cided to host his coun­try’s 70th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions at this ho­tel.

In­vi­ta­tions, hand-signed by the am­bas­sador him­self, were sent to a large list of VIP guests. Pho­tog­ra­phers were hired to await in­vi­tees at the red car­pet, large ban­ners were hung at the venue and videos from the event ap­peared very quickly on so­cial me­dia plat­forms. Some­one was work­ing ex­tra hard to get the word out.

Seem­ingly, there is noth­ing wrong with a coun­try host­ing its In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions at a pub­lic venue in Cairo. But this is not just any coun­try. This was a cel­e­bra­tion of the Zion­ist state’s found­ing, which co­in­cides with the an­niver­sary of the Pales­tinian Nakba. While the Egyptian peo­ple were on the streets mark­ing the day with grief and sor­row, in­side the ho­tel peo­ple were win­ing and din­ing in­stead of com­mem­o­rat­ing an Arab tragedy. Seventy years since the Zion­ist en­tity wiped out en­tire Pales­tinian towns and vil­lages and ex­pelled the right­ful inhabitant­s from the land, there re­main doubts about the Arab world’s com­mit­ment to the Pales­tinian cause.

The US ad­min­is­tra­tion, led by Pres­i­dent Trump, has been de­ter­mined from day one to bring an end to the Pales­tinian strug­gle and re­move it from the in­ter­na­tional agenda. It has done so by coin­ing the term “the deal of the cen­tury,” which is re­ally just a eu­phemism used to dis­guise the un­equiv­o­cal Amer­i­can back­ing of the Zion­ist agenda. One can­not help but won­der what for­mer Egyptian lead­ers, whose sculp­tures proudly stand out­side the ho­tel, would have said about the dis­grace­ful cel­e­bra­tion held in­side.

How have decades of strug­gle and thou­sands of lives lost in de­fense of Pales­tine re­sulted in the com­plete col­lu­sion of Egyptian au­thor­i­ties with the Zion­ist regime?

– Adel Sle­man

THE ARAB GULF BE­TWEEN THE US, RUS­SIA, AND CHINA Al-Khaleej al-Ja­did, UAE, May 21

When two air­lin­ers struck the World Trade Cen­ter on the morn­ing of Septem­ber 11, 2001, the world changed for­ever. Arab-Amer­i­can re­la­tions would never be the same – un­til this very day.

The rise of global ter­ror­ism meant that other ar­eas of con­cern, like the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict or Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram, could be tem­po­rar­ily over­looked. In­deed, Is­raeli of­fi­cials be­gan us­ing ter­ror­ism as an ex­cuse to main­tain their bel­liger­ent poli­cies against the Pales­tini­ans, while the Ira­ni­ans made an ef­fort to dis­tin­guish them­selves, as Shi’ites, from the rad­i­cal Sunni ide­ol­ogy that swept the world.

The pres­sure of ap­peas­ing and paci­fy­ing the United States shifted to Gulf states, which had to prove their un­wa­ver­ing loy­alty to Amer­ica’s war on ter­ror­ism. Gulf lead­ers were forced to embrace Amer­ica’s stance on the Pales­tinian is­sue and adopt the Amer­i­can nar­ra­tive on the way to move for­ward in the Mid­dle East.

How­ever, Arab lead­ers ought to re­mem­ber that Wash­ing­ton is not the only ac­tor in the chaotic re­gional arena. What we have seen in re­cent years is a grow­ing Rus­sian and Chi­nese in­volve­ment, with both pow­ers hav­ing in­ter­ests that of­ten com­pete with, if not to­tally run counter to, Amer­i­can ones. There­fore, Gulf lead­ers can­not af­ford to blindly fol­low US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump just for the sake of demon­strat­ing their loy­alty and win­ning over Amer­i­can sup­port. There are greater dy­nam­ics at play that must be taken into ac­count.

Trump might of­fer short-term ben­e­fits, but what is im­por­tant is our long-term vic­tory. – Abd al-Wa­hab Badark­han

IS­RAEL’S UP­PER HAND IN SYRIA AND LE­BANON

Al-Arab, London, May 23

When ex­am­in­ing the Is­raeli econ­omy, one can­not help but be im­pressed with just how well the coun­try is do­ing.

While other Mid­dle East­ern states are fac­ing fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal volatil­ity, or find them­selves im­mersed in full-blown war, Is­rael en­joys sta­bil­ity. In­vest­ments in

How have decades of strug­gle and thou­sands of lives lost in de­fense of Pales­tine re­sulted in the com­plete col­lu­sion of Egyptian au­thor­i­ties with the Zion­ist regime?

the Is­raeli econ­omy are grow­ing by the day and de­spite mount­ing con­cerns of an im­pend­ing con­fronta­tion with Iran, the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Is­rael has never been bet­ter. Fur­ther­more, the Is­raeli govern­ment now en­joys the com­plete and un­wa­ver­ing sup­port of the Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion in its re­gional and lo­cal bat­tles. The re­cent White House de­ci­sion to rec­og­nize Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal and move the US Em­bassy to the city is a tes­ta­ment to this.

Thus, Is­rael’s only threats come from its north­ern bor­der, where Iran is build­ing up its mil­i­tary pres­ence. To com­bat this dan­ger, Is­rael has taken an ag­gres­sive stance against any at­tempt to in­fil­trate its bor­ders. The Is­rael Air Force con­ducted sev­eral as­saults against Ira­nian tar­gets deep within Syr­ian ter­ri­tory to chal­lenge the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, and has faced very lim­ited, if any, re­tal­i­a­tion. What’s more, Tel Aviv seems to have re­ceived Rus­sian sup­port, even if tacit, to op­er­ate against Iran’s mil­i­tary buildup in Syria.

There is no doubt that Is­rael has the up­per hand in this sit­u­a­tion. Iran is busy deal­ing with the po­ten­tial ter­mi­na­tion of the nu­clear deal as well as with its mil­i­tary in­volve­ment in dif­fer­ent cam­paigns through­out the re­gion. Thus, it should come as no sur­prise that Iran is now turn­ing to Hezbol­lah in or­der to re­vive its cam­paign against Is­rael. With the Syr­ian op­tion re­moved from the ta­ble, Tehran is look­ing to mo­bi­lize Hezbol­lah mil­i­tants against Is­rael.

How­ever, here, too, there are some big advantages for Is­rael. Hezbol­lah has gained po­lit­i­cal mo­men­tum in Le­banon fol­low­ing the re­cent par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. It has long out­grown its ini­tial mis­sion of lib­er­at­ing Pales­tine. To­day, it is a le­git­i­mate po­lit­i­cal move­ment com­mit­ted to tak­ing over Le­banese pol­i­tics, but, to do so, it must be rec­og­nized by in­ter­na­tional bod­ies as a le­git­i­mate ac­tor. It will thus have no choice but to aban­don the mil­i­tary op­tion against Is­rael in the near future.

Is­rael, with both of its se­cu­rity threats on the north­ern bor­der con­tained, will con­tinue ad­vanc­ing its long-term goals in the re­gion. Tel Aviv rec­og­nizes that its se­cu­rity is not merely guar­an­teed by in­ter­na­tional res­o­lu­tions and un­der­stand­ings, but also by the way in which it lever­ages to its own ad­van­tage the in­ter­nal cracks that have formed within the Arab world. This is ex­actly what it has been do­ing, and it has been do­ing it very suc­cess­fully. – Ali Amin

THE IS­LAMIC STATE AND THE FIFA WORLD CUP Al-Ahram, Egypt, May 27

When ex­am­in­ing the Is­raeli econ­omy one can­not help but be im­pressed with just how well the coun­try is do­ing

With the 21st FIFA World Cup set to take place in Rus­sia in just two weeks, se­cu­rity agen­cies in Moscow have been ramp­ing up their pres­ence on the streets and at the dif­fer­ent venues in an at­tempt to foil any at­tempt to carry out at­tacks.

Is­lamic State, in par­tic­u­lar, has been vo­cal about its plan to tar­get the prom­i­nent soc­cer tour­na­ment. ISIS-af­fil­i­ated web­sites have pub­lished dozens of posts, in­clud­ing videos and images, warn­ing par­tic­i­pants against at­tend­ing the games. Fake pho­tos of Ar­gen­tinean foot­ball star Lionel Messi and Por­tuguese star Cris­tiano Ron­aldo wear­ing or­ange body­suits as they face ex­e­cu­tion have pro­lif­er­ated through­out the Web.

While these posts cer­tainly in­duce anx­i­ety and fear, they also demon­strate the dire cir­cum­stances Is­lamic State is cur­rently fac­ing. Af­ter sus­tain­ing a hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat in Syria and Iraq and los­ing most of their per­son­nel, ISIS lead­ers have re­al­ized that their only means of car­ry­ing out a suc­cess­ful at­tack against Western tar­gets is by in­spir­ing lone wolves to act on their be­half. In other words, these pro­pa­ganda ma­te­ri­als are meant to in­spire rad­i­cal­ized youth through­out the world to carry out an at­tack at the games, par­tic­u­larly against notable foot­ball stars, us­ing makeshift weapons.

It is also clear that ISIS lead­ers un­der­stand that the se­cu­rity mea­sures be­ing taken to thwart any large-scale at­tack in Rus­sia are likely to be ef­fec­tive. There­fore, their at­ten­tion has shifted to en­cour­ag­ing small at­tacks that might go un­no­ticed by Rus­sian se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. While this type of at­tack should not be un­der­mined, it is far less dan­ger­ous than a mas­sive at­tack aimed at a larger pub­lic.

Nev­er­the­less, there is still rea­son to be con­cerned. The weak­ness of Is­lamic State could, in fact, be the main source of dan­ger since the move­ment is de­ter­mined to prove it is still po­tent. With no other means to sus­tain it­self, ISIS might re­sort to tar­get­ing the tour­na­ment at any cost.

– Wahid Abd al-Ma­jid

(Reuters)

A PALES­TINIAN girl liv­ing in Egypt par­tic­i­pates in a Nakba Day protest against Is­rael in Cairo in 2012.

(Reuters)

A MAN car­ries a gi­ant ban­ner made of the flags of Iran, Pales­tine, Syria and Hezbol­lah, dur­ing a cer­e­mony mark­ing the 37th an­niver­sary of the Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion, in Tehran on Fe­bru­ary 11, 2016.

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