Al-Ahram Weekly Online   4 - 10 October 2007
Issue No. 865
Reader's corner
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Readers' corner

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Wild, wild East

Sir-- The reality in the Middle East is horrendous. Lawlessness abounds. Consider the American frontier in the 1800s. Setting: Dodge City which was ruled by the gun. Human life was cheap, self-interest and personal gain the motive.

It is time for a new regional responsibility which can be the only answer to the present dilemma on the Arab peninsula. Look at Iraq: sides can argue till the cows come home about fault, blame and motive, but the fact remains that everything has failed, including the media and self- centred governments that are directly and indirectly involved, and vacillating international organisations. Iraq should have been and still should be solely an Arab matter, not the business of an American or coalition of nations from outside the Middle East. The only legitimate or practical geopolitical organisation, which so happens to be headquartered in the region, in Cairo, is the League of Arab States. It should empower itself to become a greater regional authority, unlike, for example, the UN Security Council, fashioned in the image of a toothless, clawless old lion which has only the roar. An empowered Arab League could counter a growing Iranian threat of intrusion into the Arab sphere or a wandering Israeli excursion and it would be a greater counterweight to European and American military, political and economic manipulation and exploitation. I believe a good practical example would be the American Monroe Doctrine, which in its conception was established or enacted to repel foreign colonial intrusion into the American hemisphere. The mindset of Arab brotherhood and unity should move beyond a mere myth or slogan into a modern geopolitical reality.

Craig Aberle

Iran won't start

Sir-- Iran has never started any wars. It was Iraq that started the eight-year war, not Iran. And Iran is not about to start a nuclear war. Iran, would no more start a nuclear war than Russia because it realises the consequences. Finally, Iran has made it clear that it does not want a military nuclear programme. Its programme is for peaceful purposes. However, it would appear that none of these issues matter to you or other Arab writers who share your views. It seems that your concern about Iran's programme is less about Iran's use of nuclear technology and more about the weakening of Arab Sunni influence in the region. Perhaps if you and other Arab writers had spent more time criticising the corrupt and weak Arab leaders than going after Iran, which seems to defend Arab honour, whether it is the Palestinians or the Lebanese, the average Sunni Arab populace would not be supporting Iran.

Michael Johnson

Removing the excuse

Sir-- With all due respect, your argument for the Palestinian government of Hamas not to recognise Israel has missed its mark. For one thing, recognising Israel would take away the only excuse that Iran has to fight the Jews. If Palestinians have a state and it co-exists peacefully with Israel, why would the Iranians ask for wiping out Israel assuming they do so now because they are concerned about the Palestinians' suffering? As for Hamas, they had a golden opportunity to respond to the conditions set by Israel and the international community by agreeing to recognise Israel on their own terms. They could've agreed to it if they were promised to have the sanctions lifted and given a specific date for the establishment of a state.

Ayman Qaddumi

Of no benefit

Sir-- It is truly a shame that you recommend that Arabs should be careful and in other words stand aside and not take part in what is happening in the Middle East. This is symptomatic of Arab politics of the last four decades: lack of leadership to stand up for the people of this region and submission to the American will. To state that Iran should not be supported because of Shia influence is to do America's work for her and exploit these false divisions to change the focus and prevent a united front, i.e. divide and conquer. A divided Iraq and a civil war do not benefit Iran. It serves the purpose of Israel and the US and by Arabs taking sides instead of trying to create peace inside Iraq. It only makes matters worse (or better if you are Israeli).

George Siddiq

Embarrassed Egyptian

Sir-- I am an American of Egyptian descent and a Muslim. I must tell you after recently visiting Egypt and seeing the decay of the society, the apathy of the people, and the corruption of the government, I am ashamed to call myself Egyptian. As I look at the headlines of Western papers, the news of Egypt is corruption and torture of its citizens by those who are supposed to protect them. You must fight this as an affront to Muslims and human dignity. While having grown up in the United States, I long to return to Cairo, but only to a country that inspires its people, not debases them.

Omar Islam

What's Zionism?

Sir-- Zionism is failing. The Zionist project is breaking. We heard this in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. There are often times when your editorial columnists say the same rhetoric. But what is "Zionism"? I don't know. Most Israelis I meet here in New York don't know either. De-humanising people to the level where you call them Zionists seems to be the same tactic that the US uses when we kill people and call them "Islamo-fascists". Empathy is indeed important, but it goes both ways.

Joe Dillon
New York

You, not them

Sir-- Most Iraqi deaths have been caused by Muslims, not the coalition forces, and you know it!

Kerry Winn

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