VOICES FROM THE ARAB PRESS

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

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

IN­SIDE THE PRISONS OF THE ASSAD REGIME

Al-Araby al-Jadeed, Lon­don, Novem­ber 15

Hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions have been closely mon­i­tor­ing the hu­man­i­tar­ian con­di­tion of Syr­ian refugees, but no­body has been look­ing at what is hap­pen­ing in­side the prisons of the Assad regime.

In the Hama prison, one of the no­to­ri­ous sites of tor­ture in Syria to­day, po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents have been in­ter­ro­gated and ex­e­cuted with­out a re­mote chance for a fair trial. Some of them have tried to smug­gle au­dio record­ings out of the prison, in an at­tempt to gain the world’s at­ten­tion to the ter­ri­ble abuses that they en­dure each and ev­ery day.

With­out any in­ter­na­tional body to pro­tect them or a le­gal sys­tem to de­fend their rights, these men and women, whose sole “crime” was to protest the Assad regime, have no choice but to con­tinue suf­fer­ing with the hope of evad­ing death. Many of these in­di­vid­u­als are de­prived of food and wa­ter. Most of them suf­fer pro­longed phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal tor­ture.

The Hama prison, just like many other prisons in Syria, was used prior to the civil war as a de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity for con­victed felons. Fol­low­ing the up­ris­ing, it was con­verted into an in­ter­ro­ga­tion cen­ter for anti-Assad ac­tivists. With time, it grew into a fullfledged con­cen­tra­tion camp in which in­mates are sys­tem­at­i­cally abused, tor­tured and killed – much in line with the Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps we re­mem­ber from World War II.

The tes­ti­monies laid out in the 2014 Syr­ian de­tainee

It is un­be­liev­able that world lead­ers who claim to be act­ing in the best in­ter­est of the Syr­ian peo­ple have com­pletely over­looked this ma­jor crime [in Hama Prison]

re­port, which pro­vided pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence of the sys­tem­atic killing of more than 11,000 de­tainees by the Syr­ian regime, is just the tip of the ice­berg. Much more is hap­pen­ing to­day be­hind closed doors. The ac­tual num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als killed at these de­ten­tion cen­ters has long sur­passed the hun­dreds of thou­sands, and the killing con­tin­ues.

It is un­be­liev­able that world lead­ers who claim to be act­ing in the best in­ter­est of the Syr­ian peo­ple have com­pletely over­looked this ma­jor crime. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Syr­i­ans have been slaugh­tered by Assad in these camps to date, and not a sin­gle fin­ger has been lifted to end this ab­hor­rent crime. – Amer Kush

LIBERMAN’S GAZA DE­FEAT Al-Ayaam, Ra­mal­lah, Novem­ber 15

The res­ig­na­tion of Is­raeli De­fense Min­is­ter Avig­dor Liberman from of­fice is a pure act of po­lit­i­cal sur­viv­abil­ity. Liberman did not re­sign be­cause of strong dis­agree­ments he had with the mil­i­tary over how the Gaza cri­sis should have been han­dled. In fact, when he re­leased his res­ig­na­tion no­tice to the pub­lic, Liberman did not men­tion a sin­gle word of crit­i­cism against the IDF or the chief of staff.

In­stead, he fo­cused his dis­parag­ing re­marks against Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, who is the real tar­get of this res­ig­na­tion. Liberman hopes to weaken Ne­tanyahu by at­tack­ing him at his base: with the con­ser­va­tive right-wing vot­ers. Re­sign­ing at this point in time, just days af­ter Ha­mas fired more than 500 rock­ets at Is­raeli towns and cities, and ac­cus­ing Ne­tanyahu of not re­spond­ing harshly enough to this es­ca­la­tion, is meant to por­tray Liberman as the “ma­cho” politi­cian in the Is­raeli po­lit­i­cal sphere.

How­ever, just like Ne­tanyahu, Liberman, too, knows all too well that the only so­lu­tion to the Gaza cri­sis is a po­lit­i­cal one. The re­cent round of con­fronta­tion be­tween Is­rael and Ha­mas re­vealed the lat­ter’s up­graded ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which in­clude an ad­vanced mis­sile sys­tem that is far more ac­cu­rate and ad­vanced than it used to be.

In ad­di­tion, Ha­mas’s strikes against Is­rael were more co­or­di­nated than in pre­vi­ous rounds of fight­ing, and sug­gest that di­rec­tives to its forces on the ground were dis­patched from a cen­tral com­mand room some­where in the Gaza Strip. By re­spond­ing to the mas­sive Ha­mas rocket fire with noth­ing more than a few tar­geted at­tacks against va­cated Ha­mas build­ings, the Is­raeli po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity ech­e­lon es­sen­tially ad­mit­ted to not hav­ing a so­lu­tion to the Gaza sit­u­a­tion.

Is­rael is try­ing to win time and sign covert deals with Ha­mas through se­cret back chan­nels. Ha­mas, mean­while, suc­ceeded in get­ting Is­rael to come to terms with its power and re­spect its au­thor­ity over the Gaza Strip. It also marked a vic­tory over Liberman, who en­tered of­fice af­ter promis­ing to “ex­ter­mi­nate” the move­ment’s heads, and left of­fice at a time when Is­rael no longer knows how to deal with Ha­mas.

– Rami Mansour

TRUMP’S TWIT­TER AS­SAULT ON MACRON

Al-Arab, Lon­don, Novem­ber 17

The per­sonal rap­proche­ment ef­forts of French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron did not suc­ceed in fos­ter­ing good or ac­cept­able re­la­tions with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. It is clear that Macron’s at­tempts to es­tab­lish a work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the pres­i­dent through mu­tual re­spect were sim­ply not enough to make up for the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two lead­ers and their re­spec­tive out­looks on global pol­i­tics.

In­deed, these di­vi­sions have be­come so deep, that restor­ing the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween France and the United States might be im­pos­si­ble. The most re­cent brawl be­tween the two lead­ers took place on the eve of France’s com­mem­o­ra­tion of the cen­ten­nial of the First World War, which was at­tended by more than 70 heads of state. In his re­marks to those in at­ten­dance, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Trump, Pres­i­dent Macron called for the for­ma­tion of a Euro­pean army to pro­tect the con­ti­nent “from China, Rus­sia and even the United States.”

This an­gered Don­ald Trump so badly, that it took no more than a few hours for the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent to re­spond via Twit­ter, call­ing the French pub­lic to make their coun­try “great again.” But that was not all of it. Trump then pro­ceeded to launch a per­sonal at­tack against Macron. He scoffed at the idea of es­tab­lish­ing a “Euro­pean army” and mocked France for its fail­ure to fight the Nazis.

Trump and Macron’s an­i­mos­ity has grown like a snow­ball in the past few months. Trump’s de­ci­sion to exit the Paris cli­mate agree­ment, as well as his de­ci­sion to walk away from the Iran nu­clear deal, re­vealed the pres­i­dent’s deep lack of re­spect with his Euro­pean coun­ter­parts. Macron quickly re­al­ized that the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent holds more re­spect for North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un than for any Euro­pean leader, in­clud­ing him­self.

In light of this new US stance against Europe, Macron has sought to strengthen his re­la­tions with his coun­ter­parts in Europe. Euro­pean Union Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel have been par­tic­u­larly sym­pa­thetic to Macron.

It seems as if the lead­ers of Europe have grown more united than ever be­fore in their front against the US, and Pres­i­dent Trump can in­sult and protest as much as he wants. At the end of the day, this bat­tle for Europe will not be de­ter­mined on Twit­ter. – Khi­tar abu Diyab A REV­O­LU­TION GONE WRONG Al-Quds al-Arabi, Lon­don, Novem­ber 17

In a re­cent tele­vised in­ter­view, Iraqi politi­cian and par­lia­men­tar­ian Iz­zat Sha­ban­dar was asked by a host about his opin­ion on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in Iraq and the cor­rup­tion that hin­ders the for­ma­tion of a new govern­ment. Sha­ban­dar replied that he would be will­ing to sup­port a govern­ment even if 70% of its mem­bers proved to be cor­rupt politi­cians, since it is more im­por­tant, at this spe­cific point in time, to end the state of di­vi­sion in Iraqi so­ci­ety than to rid its po­lit­i­cal sys­tem of nepo­tism.

With­out even flinch­ing, the in­ter­viewer then posed a fol­low-up ques­tion: “Why, then, did you fail to sup­port the govern­ment of Sad­dam Hus­sein?” To this, Sha­ban­dar ad­mit­ted that if he had known what Iraq would look like fol­low­ing the Amer­i­can in­va­sion, then he would have stood by the side of Sad­dam Hus­sein and de­fended his regime at any cost.

De­spite dis­agree­ing with many of Sha­ban­dar’s pol­i­tics, I can’t help but ad­mire the hon­esty with which he ap­proached this in­ter­view. His re­marks were very telling, not only of his own pol­i­tics, but also of those of many other rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies in the Arab world. Many of them now ad­mit that if they knew how the Arab Spring would un­fold, they would have likely turned down the call to rebel against their lead­ers. The chants for “lib­erty,” “jus­tice” and “dig­nity for all” that we’ve all heard in the main squares were quickly for­got­ten. New lead­ers rose to power and claimed to rep­re­sent the peo­ple, but worked to de­feat their rev­o­lu­tion­ary de­mands.

What we’re wit­ness­ing to­day in Iraq, Syria and Ye­men is a di­rect re­sult of rev­o­lu­tions that have gone wrong. Those who al­lowed Is­lamist move­ments to lead their protests ended up with pi­ous regimes that bred fur­ther sec­tar­ian con­flict and civil war. The re­li­gious move­ments that once in­spired the Arab pub­lic and gave them hope for a bet­ter fu­ture have now come full cir­cle and re­vealed their true face. Their true mo­ti­va­tion was to in­crease their own po­lit­i­cal power, not rep­re­sent the peo­ple who stood be­hind them.

The di­vi­sions have be­come so deep [be­tween pres­i­dents Macron and Trump] that restor­ing the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween France and the US might be im­pos­si­ble

(Pho­tos: Reuters)

THE MOON is seen dur­ing a lu­nar eclipse over Idlib, Syria, on July 27.

FRENCH FIRST Lady Brigitte Macron awaits US First Lady Me­la­nia Trump dur­ing a visit at the Chateau de Ver­sailles near Paris, as part of the com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­mony for Ar­mistice Day, on Novem­ber 11.

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