Sunday,18 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Sunday,18 November, 2018
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

Shock of Israel’s shame

Al-Ahram Weekly

For the past week, with the escalation of fighting in Syria and the Israeli aggression against Gaza, Arab papers have mostly painted a bleak picture of the political situation in the region. In the medium-to-longer terms, the problems run deeper according to the various assessments of the commentators. There are no signs that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad intends to step down anytime soon.
Curbs on freedom of expression and of the press have multiplied in Syria. Yet the civil war rages on. “We need your armies, not your tears” was the provocative title of an article by Editor-in-Chief of the London-based Pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi Abdel-Bari Atwan. “The sons and daughters of Gaza who face a daily onslaught of aerial bombardment and rocket attacks by the Israelis must surely close the gates of the Gaza Strip to stop the high-powered Arab League delegation headed by the Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Arabi and composed of the foreign ministers of several Arab countries from entering the war-torn territory. Gaza’s people are subjected to a gruelling bombardment day and night and must tell the delegation to return from where they came. The people of Gaza do not need sympathy and sweet talk, crocodile tears and good lies,” Atwan noted in Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
This means girding the regional powers that be for another wave of losses. The admission of near impotence by the pundits triggered a further wave of pessimism.
The focus was the Israeli aggression in Syria, as the fighting grabbed the attention of most of the commentators and columnists. Here, as much as anywhere in the region, revolutionaries need spine.
The Syrian pro-government press was highly dismissive of the Doha conference of Syrian opposition forces. In pejorative terms, Abdel-Moneim Ali Eissa writing in the Syrian daily Al-Watan, said “Turkey alone tried in a desperate last minute attempt to calm the participants’ nerves and to give them hope. In his meetings with Syrian opposition forces, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted on uniting the Syrian opposition front.” Abdel-Moneim Ali Eissa noted that he “wished the Doha conference to be a turning point in the Syrian political impasse.”
Syrian Islamists rejected what they dubbed as the Syrian opposition’s “conspiratorial project”, by which they meant the National Coalition. They also argued for the founding of an Islamic state in Syria. There was much consternation about this contentious issue.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Israel was launching “terrorist acts” against the Palestinians. Elias Khouri writing in the London-based Pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi noted in a poignant article entitled “From Aleppo to Gaza” that “the importance of the current confrontation in the region is embodied in the arrival of the Turkish Prime Minister to Cairo and his insistence on the critical importance of the Egyptian-Turkish alliance.” Khouri stressed that the foundation of a new political dispensation in the Middle East is the groundbreaking Turkish-Egyptian Islamist association.
Saudi academic and columnist Khaled Al-Dakhil writing in the London-based Pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat commented on the Israeli-launched military offensive against Hamas in Gaza in which Ahmed Al-Jabari, the leader of the Islamist group Hamas’s military wing, Al-Qassam Brigade, was assassinated. Al-Jabari, the most senior member of Hamas to be assassinated by Israel since the end of the Gaza war almost four years ago was also a notable member of the Hamas political core group.
The Islamic Jihad had stipulated terms for peace and Al-Jabari tenaciously survived an Israeli assassination attempt against him in 2004 that killed his eldest son, a brother and several other relatives. The Israelis also targeted him but failed to assassinate him in 2009.
“Israel capitulates… but what will Egypt do?” was the provocative title of Al-Dakhil’s article. “What is the precise nature of the new Egyptian policy towards Gaza? Do the Muslim Brothers have an alternative foreign policy agenda to that of the previous Mubarak regime?”
In much the same vein, Palestinian pundit Khaled Al-Hroub also writing in Al-Hayat said the Arab states need to consolidate their efforts in order to face the Israeli aggression in Gaza.
The aforementioned makes the handling of social and economic challenges in the region all the more important. “It is difficult not to equate the Israeli aggression against Gaza with the Syrian government assault on the Syrian opposition forces,” wrote Hamad Al-Majed in his column in the London-based Pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat.
“We cannot accept that Hamas plays the part of the proxy for the Iranians as part and parcel of the Iranian political agenda for the region,” Al-Majed warned. “The bonds that bind Hamas and the Palestinian people are far stronger than the ties between Hamas and the Iranian regime. Moreover, the ties between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which has made it clear that it stands by the oppressed Syrian people, are very strong.”
Popular wisdom has always blamed the tyrants and dictators. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is considered one. Russian President Vladimir Putin another, and in Arab affairs and especially Syrian matters, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov too is seen as a despot. Moscow has habitually taken the side of Al-Assad.
Not surprisingly, Gaza also featured prominently in the press this week. Rockets landed in the vicinity of the Israeli cities of Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon. However, another kind of war grabbed the headlines. The Israeli Shin Bet security service drew attention to the equally ferocious cyber war between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which attracted the attention of Arab and Israeli commentators alike. According to Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Stienitz, “a second front” has been opened and the Israelis have “deflected 44 million cyber attacks on government websites,” presumably a Palestinian retaliation for the ferocious Israeli aerial aggression against Gaza. To add insult to injury, Israeli air strikes targeted top commander Ramez Harb a leader of the Islamic Jihad.
The slide into poverty of large slices of the Jordanian population has focussed the attention of several pundits on the deplorable economic mess the Hashemite Kingdom finds itself in. And the situation in Jordan has received considerable attention in the Arab press this week. “I never considered myself as a member of the middle class,” wrote Kamel Al-Nuseirat in a humorous piece entitled “I am a whale” in the Jordanian daily Al-Dostour. “I have 25 dinars in my pocket, but I still get the feeling that I am dirt poor… Now I know the secret of my fondness of tuna. It is because I am a whale.”

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