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

THE CROWN PRINCE’S VI­SION FOR A ‘NEW EUROPE’

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia, Novem­ber 29

Crown Prince Mo­hammed Bin Sal­man’s vi­sion for Saudi Ara­bia is no longer con­fined to the do­mes­tic sphere. At the re­cent in­vest­ment con­fer­ence held in Riyadh, the crown prince spoke about Saudi in­vest­ments in other Arab states, in an ef­fort to in­no­vate and grow their economies to­gether.

Bin Sal­man’s visit to the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain, Egypt, Tu­nisia and a host of other coun­tries will help open these doors and pave the path to­ward a fruit­ful process of Arab co­op­er­a­tion. As one of the strong­est economies in the world, Saudi Ara­bia is able to im­prove the liv­ing con­di­tions of mil­lions of peo­ple through eco­nomic sup­port and co­op­er­a­tion. The crown prince pre­sented this vi­sion and sug­gested that the Mid­dle East should be­come “the new Europe” – a model for re­gional in­te­gra­tion and co­op­er­a­tion that would ben­e­fit the coun­tries of the re­gion.

Arab states have gone through many dif­fi­cult cen­turies, dom­i­nated by failed re­li­gious ideas, re­peated mil­i­tary coups and fun­da­men­tal­ist regime mod­els. These un­for­tu­nate his­tor­i­cal mile­stones led to the cur­rent crises we are wit­ness­ing in Syria, Iraq and Ye­men. The crown prince’s vi­sion is there­fore the only way to move away from the re­gion’s woes.

Eco­nomic devel­op­ment brings about in­tel­lec­tual devel­op­ment. An im­prove­ment in the liv­ing con­di­tions of the av­er­age Arab ci­ti­zen will spur im­prove­ment in ed­u­ca­tion, pro­mote free­dom of thought and in­spire mod­ern­iza­tion of so­ci­ety.

Arab cit­i­zens have also ex­pe­ri­enced the hor­rors of ter­ror­ism, and Bin Sal­man’s vi­sion can help them fi­nally nip ter­ror­ism in the bud. Arab lead­ers will have to choose whether to adopt the crown prince’s vi­sion and be­come thriv­ing na­tions, or turn their backs on Saudi Ara­bia and main­tain so­ci­eties that re­mind us of the Dark Ages. This is a choice be­tween devel­op­ment and de­struc­tion; be­tween be­com­ing a Europe, or suc­cumb­ing to evil forces like Hezbol­lah, Ha­mas and Boko Haram.

– Fa­hed Suleiman al-Shaki­ran

THE RE­NAIS­SANCE PARTY’S SE­CRET AP­PA­RA­TUS

Al-Ayaam, Egypt, Novem­ber 30

“I can no longer keep my eyes closed to this… this is be­com­ing too alarm­ing.” This is how Tu­nisian Pres­i­dent Beji Kayed al-Sebsi opened his re­marks at a re­cent meeting per­tain­ing to the ex­is­tence of an un­der­ground in­tel­li­gence and ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion be­long­ing to the Tu­nisian Re­nais­sance Party.

Dur­ing this meeting, at­tended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Tu­nisia’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, al-Sebsi was warned that his at­tempt to dis­man­tle the move­ment poses a grave “per­sonal threat” against him, which could cost him his life. But al-Sebsi re­mained un­de­terred. He re­peated his claim that Tu­nisia’s great­est source of in­sta­bil­ity comes from its do­mes­tic en­e­mies that wish to un­der­mine the na­tion’s sovereignty from the in­side.

Se­cu­rity ex­perts present at the meeting pro­vided the pres­i­dent with ev­i­dence of a past at­tempt to take his life dur­ing a state visit of French for­mer pres­i­dent François Hol­lande to Tu­nis in 2013. The at­tempt, which was suc­cess­fully thwarted at the time, had been co-opted by the se­cret ap­pa­ra­tus of the Re­nais­sance party.

In­ter­est­ingly, once de­tails of this meeting be­came known to the pub­lic, Tu­nisia’s Re­nais­sance Party was quick to launch a smear cam­paign against the pres­i­dent. The move­ment’s lead­ers de­nied the al­le­ga­tions made against them and claimed that they are “full sup­port­ers” of the demo­cratic process in Tu­nisia.

This wouldn’t be the first time that the Re­nais­sance Party makes use of dou­ble­s­peak. When it ap­peals to the wide pub­lic, it makes use of terms such as “democ­racy” and “lib­erty.” But when it speaks to its af­fil­i­ates in its in­ner cir­cle, the party quickly adopts the rhetoric of its found­ing fa­thers, who sought to “lib­er­ate” the Arab world from non-be­liev­ers. In pub­lic they preach ac­cep­tance; in pri­vate they preach ji­had. This be­hav­ior is only ex­pected of or­ga­ni­za­tions of this sort, which drew in­spi­ra­tion from the Egypt’s Mus­lim Brother­hood and adopted a strat­egy of se­cret re­sis­tance.

This party should be dis­man­tled and out­lawed be­fore it causes ir­re­versible dam­age. – Mashri al-Zayidi

HA­MAS SHOULD RE­STORE TIES WITH IRAN

Al-Quds al-Arabi, Lon­don, Novem­ber 28

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ha­mas and Iran has been widely de­bated, es­pe­cially in re­cent years when ties be­tween the two sides de­te­ri­o­rated due to the con­flict in Syria and Ha­mas’s am­bigu­ous stance on the regime of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad. The ques­tion of this re­la­tion­ship comes up from time to time, but Ha­mas re­fuses to clearly spell out its po­si­tion on the Syr­ian civil war, leav­ing it in a neu­tral area some­where be­tween heaven and hell.

Nei­ther Iran’s friends nor its op­po­nents are sat­is­fied with Ha­mas’s vague stance. In the cur­rent re­gional cir­cum­stances, there is no longer any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the hes­i­tant po­si­tion on Iran. It is in Ha­mas’s in­ter­ests to re­store re­la­tions with Iran and to ad­mit that the po­si­tion taken in 2012 by some of its lead­ers on Syria was a political mis­take. Ha­mas should have removed it­self from the de­bate sur­round­ing the Syr­ian con­flict, since it has noth­ing to do with the Pales­tinian cause.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ha­mas and Iran to­day must be based on the fol­low­ing rules and premises: (1) Ha­mas is a Pales­tinian or­ga­ni­za­tion op­er­at­ing un­der oc­cu­pa­tion, not an Arab state. It has noth­ing to do with the con­flicts tak­ing place in the re­gion, nor with in­ter­nal rev­o­lu­tions. Thus, it is not re­quired to adopt a for­mal po­si­tion on each and ev­ery con­flict or cri­sis in the re­gion. (2) Iran is an in­te­gral part of this re­gion and should be viewed as an im­por­tant strate­gic player in the Mid­dle East. The Pales­tini­ans or the Ha­mas move­ment have noth­ing to do with the con­flict be­tween Tehran and some Arab states, and should thus not join calls to boy­cott Tehran. (3) If Iran re­mains loyal to the Pales­tinian cause and does not rush to nor­mal­ize its ties with Tel Aviv – as so many Arabs regimes have done so far – it is an im­por­tant ally to pro­tect.

Fi­nally, the claims of Shi’ism and fears of the spread of the Shi’ite doc­trine in the Mid­dle East, which is used to jus­tify hos­til­ity to­ward Iran, is noth­ing but non­sense. Shi’ites al­ready ex­ist through­out all cor­ners of the Arab world, with or with­out Iran’s in­flu­ence. The bot­tom line is that re­la­tions be­tween Ha­mas and any coun­try in the world, in­clud­ing Iran, must not be governed by other crises. Iran is a pow­er­ful ac­tor in the re­gion and it may be in Ha­mas’s best in­ter­est to ally with it.

– Muham­mad Ayesh

SAUDI ARA­BIA AND THE G-20

Asharq al-Awsat, Lon­don, De­cem­ber 1

Al­though the G-20 Sum­mit held in Buenos Aires was framed as an “eco­nomic” con­fer­ence, it is a political one par ex­cel­lence.

One of the themes of this year’s con­fer­ence was none other than the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia, which found it­self un­der the spot­light as a re­sult of the war in Ye­men and the killing of Ja­mal Khashoggi. There had been wide­spread at­tempts to pre­vent the Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed Bin Sal­man from at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence. Riyadh was re­peat­edly pres­sured to send a lower rank­ing of­fi­cial to Ar­gentina. But Bin Sal­man did not waiver and in­sisted on par­tic­i­pat­ing. He vis­ited no fewer than four coun­tries en route to Ar­gentina, mak­ing his trip a pub­lic cam­paign to de­fend his coun­try.

Most political pun­dits claimed that he would avoid con­fronta­tion in Buenos Aires, but he did the ex­act op­po­site. He showed up de­ter­mined to en­gage with world lead­ers. In­ter­est­ingly, his par­tic­i­pa­tion comes at in­ter­est­ing time for Riyadh. Saudi Ara­bia is one of the largest economies par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sum­mit this year, af­ter para­dox­i­cally tak­ing over Tur­key’s spot in the global rank­ing. More iron­i­cally, the king­dom’s re­quest to host the next G-20 sum­mit in Riyadh was ap­proved, mak­ing its op­po­nents even more fu­ri­ous than they had been be­fore.

The sum­mit will be a stage to dis­cuss the most burn­ing is­sues on the in­ter­na­tional agenda, in­clud­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Crimea, Brexit and the trade war be­tween the United States and China. In the wake of these burn­ing top­ics, it is highly un­likely that Khashoggi’s death will as­sume the cen­ter of at­ten­tion. Ye­men will be yet an­other fo­cus of the meetings, with the hope of fi­nally bring­ing an end to the war there. Since none of the coun­tries in the con­fer­ence are in­ter­ested in de­ploy­ing troops to Ye­men, the only vi­able al­ter­na­tive is to sup­port Riyadh and the coali­tion forces in their cam­paign against the Houthis. This will mark yet an­other vic­tory for Bin Sal­man, who will gain the in­ter­na­tional back­ing he needs for his mil­i­tary cam­paign.

In­deed, the crown prince may have been asked to with­draw his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the sum­mit, but so far he is emerg­ing as one of its big­gest stars.

– Abd al-Rah­man al-Rashed

(Reuters)

STRONG ECON­OMY: In­side the new Hara­main high-speed train in Jed­dah, Saudi Ara­bia, on Septem­ber 18.

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