Arab Press

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

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Al-Arab, Lon­don, July 10

How can Euro­pean lead­ers ig­nore th­ese se­vere threats to their very own sovereignt­y and con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing with the Ira­nian for­eign min­is­ter as if noth­ing hap­pened?

When Ira­nian- and Hezbol­lah-backed forces joined hands with the Syr­ian regime to crush the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion, their stated goal was to “lib­er­ate the Golan” and “pave the way to Jerusalem.” To­day, over seven years later, it is clear be­yond any doubt that th­ese prom­ises were noth­ing but empty slo­gans, used to de­flect at­ten­tion away from the real goal at hand: main­tain­ing Bashar As­sad’s rule at any cost. The ex­tent of dam­age and de­struc­tion that this so-called “Axis of Re­sis­tance” has brought upon the Syr­ian peo­ple is sim­ply un­fath­omable. No ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion in the world can even be­gin to be com­pared in its bru­tal­ity to the cal­lous­ness of As­sad’s gangs, which in­dis­crim­i­nately killed thousands of in­no­cent civil­ians. Th­ese forces have been so proud of the Rus­sian sup­port they re­ceived that they gave Putin the af­fec­tion­ate nick­name “Abu Ali,” which is used in Ara­bic to de­scribe some­one who is tough. Yet this “tough” part­ner is the very same per­son who col­luded with Is­rael and pro­tected Tel Aviv’s in­ter­ests in Syria. It is Putin, af­ter all, who safe­guarded the right of Is­raeli war­planes to freely op­er­ate in Syr­ian airspace. It is Putin who, sim­i­larly, in­sisted that Hezbol­lah and Ira­nian forces be kept away from the Is­raeli border. This did not seem to bother mem­bers of this axis, whose sole ob­jec­tive was to wreak havoc and weaken the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion. They watched as Is­rael gained guar­an­tees from the Rus­sians time and again, en­hanc­ing its con­trol in the Golan and its foothold in Syria. We have seen Rus­sian-pro­vided mis­siles directed against Syr­ian cit­i­zens; not Is­raeli towns and cities. We’ve wit­nessed bar­rel bombs dropped from planes against Syr­ian refugees flee­ing their homes; not against Is­raeli or Amer­i­can sol­diers. This so-called “road to Jerusalem” is one big sham. It is a mere de­cep­tion of the Arab peo­ple, meant to por­tray the Ira­nian mili­tias and the Hezbol­lah fighters as de­fend­ers of the Syr­ian peo­ple. In re­al­ity, they are their big­gest en­e­mies. As­sad gave the Is­raelis two big gifts: first, con­trol over the Golan Heights; sec­ond, a front-row seat to a cat­a­strophic war against his own peo­ple. Putin is nei­ther his friend, nor his pro­tec­tor. He is a cul­prit in one of the big­gest tragedies ex­pe­ri­enced by the Arab world. – Ali Amin


Al-Ara­biya, Saudi Ara­bia, July 14

One ob­serv­ing the Euro­pean frenzy to ap­pease the Ira­nian regime – in par­tic­u­lar, the Euro­pean at­tempt to sal­vage the nu­clear deal at any cost – can’t help but ques­tion why, and how, the Ira­ni­ans have won such pref­er­en­tial treat­ment. I’m say­ing this specif­i­cally in the con­text of the re­cently-un­cov­ered Ira­nian cell that op­er­ated in Europe and planned an at­tack in France.

How can Euro­pean lead­ers ig­nore th­ese se­vere threats on their very own sovereignt­y and con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing with the Ira­nian for­eign min­is­ter as if noth­ing has hap­pened?

Think about this: When we hear of at­tempts to carry out ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Europe by or­ga­ni­za­tions like the Is­lamic State, we are of­ten met with shock and rage. We ex­pect se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties to do any­thing pos­si­ble to foil such at­tacks on Euro­pean soil.

Yet, here, at very same time in which Ira­nian diplo­mats are meet­ing their Euro­pean coun­ter­parts and talk­ing about po­lit­i­cal agree­ments, Ira­nian agents are roam­ing the streets of Europe un­hin­dered, plan­ning at­tacks that could kill scores of Euro­pean cit­i­zens. And the au­thor­i­ties are do­ing ab­so­lutely noth­ing! The un­cov­ered Ira­nian cell made use of the wide net­work of Ira­nian em­bassies in Europe to plan an at­tack against a con­fer­ence held by the Ira­nian op­po­si­tion in one of Paris’s sub­urbs.

French au­thor­i­ties, which caught and ar­rested two of the ter­ror­ists, didn’t even throw them in jail. In­stead, they put them on the first out­bound flight from Paris to Tehran, and tried to hide the is­sue. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if the ter­ror­ists flew first class. This kind of weak re­sponse not only strength­ens the rad­i­cal forces in Iran, but also harms Europe’s na­tional se­cu­rity. Above all, it is a be­trayal of the Euro­pean peo­ple. De­spite the de­sire to reach a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion with Iran, Euro­pean lead­ers can­not for­sake the in­ter­ests of their very own peo­ple. – Hameed Barami


Al-Ayaam, Ra­mal­lah, July 12

Last week, Is­raeli De­fense Min­is­ter Avig­dor Liber­man signed an or­der des­ig­nat­ing the Pales­tinian satel­lite news chan­nel Al-Quds as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, and or­dered its clo­sure. This would not be the first time that the Oc­cu­pa­tion is try­ing to tar­get this chan­nel. It has done so mul­ti­ple times in the past. It is im­por­tant to note that, to­day, dozens of news chan­nels and ra­dio sta­tions op­er­ate in the oc­cu­pied West Bank. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the Oc­cu­pa­tion agrees to pro­vide them with per­mits in an at­tempt to pro­tect Is­rael’s la­bel as the so-called “only democ­racy” in the Mid­dle East. How­ever, when a news chan­nel oc­ca­sion­ally up­sets an Is­raeli of­fi­cial – ei­ther by con­fronting them with the truth, or by air­ing con­tro­ver­sial footage – then it of­ten jeop­ar­dizes its abil­ity to stay in busi­ness. The Al-Quds chan­nel has cer­tainly been the tar­get of Is­raeli threats and in­tim­i­da­tion. De­spite re­peated Is­raeli at­tempts to black­mail sta­tion of­fi­cials, the Pales­tinian chan­nel re­mained stead­fast in its com­mit­ment to push­ing the Pales­tinian nar­ra­tive of the con­flict into the fore. It pro­vided live doc­u­men­ta­tion of the Pales­tini­ans’ daily strug­gles un­der the bru­tal hand of the Oc­cu­pa­tion. It fol­lowed the sit­u­a­tion in Gaza dur­ing four wars with the Oc­cu­pa­tion Forces. Since its launch in 2008, the sta­tion has been ex­tremely suc­cess­ful at gain­ing a wide fol­low­ing in the Arab world; an ac­com­plish­ment that clearly ir­ri­tated and wor­ried the Is­raeli min­is­ter of de­fense. When the sta­tion’s of­fices in Ra­mal­lah were sacked by the Oc­cu­pa­tion a few years ago, its em­ploy­ees quickly re­grouped and re­turned to their jobs. When the sta­tion’s of­fices in Jerusalem were closed overnight, its ded­i­cated re­porters worked from their homes and brought live cov­er­age from makeshift lo­ca­tions. This is why I know with cer­tainty that Al-Quds will con­tinue to pre­vail and thrive, de­spite this most re­cent de­ci­sion by the Oc­cu­pa­tion Forces to shut it down. Al-Quds has be­come syn­ony­mous with the Pales­tinian Re­sis­tance. And just like the Re­sis­tance, it can­not be brought down by a court or­der. It lives in the hearts and minds of the Pales­tinian pub­lic, and it shall en­dure and pre­vail de­spite the will to si­lence it. – Ah­mad Hajj Ali


Al-Eti­had, UAE, July 7

[As­sad’s] forces have been so proud of the Rus­sian sup­port they have re­ceived that they gave President Vlad­mir Putin the af­fec­tion­ate nick­name “Abu Ali’... yet [Putin] col­luded with Is­rael and pro­tected Tel Aviv’s in­ter­ests in Syria

Now that the Euro­pean sum­mit of heads of state has been con­cluded, we can look back at the meet­ings held in Brus­sels in an at­tempt to un­der­stand what was de­cided there. Un­for­tu­nately, the lan­guage em­ployed in the var­i­ous state­ments that were pub­lished in the sum­mit’s af­ter­math is very con­fus­ing. It seems as if Europe’s lead­ers, know­ing that their dif­fer­ences far out­weigh their ar­eas of agree­ment, chose to stick to am­bigu­ous jar­gon in their press re­leases. Some lead­ers, for ex­am­ple, claimed that a de­ci­sion was made to fi­nan­cially as­sist coun­tries that re­ceive a large num­ber of refugees.

Other lead­ers, mean­while, in­sisted that no fi­nan­cial benefits would be given to host coun­tries and, in­stead, refugees would be re­set­tled in other parts of Europe. All of th­ese con­flict­ing mes­sages join an al­ready long list of dis­agree­ments among Euro­pean lead­ers over how to best deal with the refugee sit­u­a­tion that emerged in the con­ti­nent in the past few years.

How­ever, what is most in­ter­est­ing to note is that data from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion ac­tu­ally sug­gest that the refugee cri­sis has been wind­ing down, with fewer than 60,000 asy­lum seek­ers ar­riv­ing in Europe this year, com­pared to over a mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als at the peak of the cri­sis. In other words, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is al­most a non-is­sue in rel­a­tive terms. Yet the rise of na­tion­al­is­tic gov­ern­ments in coun­tries like Italy, Hun­gary, Aus­tria and Poland has turned the mi­grant cri­sis into one of the most politi­cized top­ics in Europe. Euro­pean lead­ers use the mi­grant is­sue as an in­tra-Euro­pean bash­ing tool to garner sup­port and pop­u­lar­ity at home. Within this wave of pop­ulist pol­i­tics, rang­ing all the way from Moscow to Wash­ing­ton, the EU is fac­ing an ever-grow­ing risk of dis­in­te­grat­ing. Years of Euro­pean unity and an at­tempt to bring the con­ti­nent to­ward an ever-closer union are quickly un­rav­el­ing, leav­ing more ques­tions than an­swers about what’s in store next for Euro­pean states and their re­la­tions with one an­other. – Hazem Saghiya

(Pho­tos: Reuters)

THE IRA­NIAN flag (left) flies out­side the Ira­nian Em­bassy in cen­tral Lon­don in 2015.

A SOLDIER stands guard near a poster of Syr­ian President Bashar As­sad and Rus­sian coun­ter­part Vladimir Putin dur­ing the re­open­ing of the road be­tween Homs and Hama in Ras­tan, Syria, on June 6.

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