A roundup of this week’s Arab media.

PROTESTERS ARE pushed back by Iraqi security forces during a protest at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Ju
PROTESTERS ARE pushed back by Iraqi security forces during a protest at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, July 2018. (photo credit: THAIER AL-SUDANI/REUTERS)


Arab Press


Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, July 28

Iraq continues to witness unrest for the third week in a row, as hundreds of citizens continue to flood the streets in protest of the bleak living conditions in the country. This is one of the most justifiable waves of protests I’ve ever seen. Ordinary Iraqi men and women are taking to the streets in excruciating heat and demanding an end to their government’s neglect. They want running water, electricity, and sewer lines. They want to be able to survive in one of the world’s toughest regions to live. They want the foreign oil companies that have come to their land and stolen their natural resources to invest at least a small portion of their huge revenues back into the Iraqi economy.

These demands should seemingly resonate with every rational human being, but they have been met with utter disapproval by the Qatari authorities. In the past few days, Qatari officials have repeatedly appeared in the Arab media and described the protests as ones “fueled by foreign powers” in an effort to “destabilize Iraq.” They’ve encouraged protesters to stay home and resist calls to join the demonstrations.

These Qatari officials were alluding of course, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – suggesting that Riyadh is behind the turmoil unfolding in Iraq today. Other than being utterly outlandish, these accusations are extremely hypocritical. It is Qatar, after all, that stood behind the revolutions that swept almost every country in the Middle East, from Tunisia, to Egypt and Yemen. Doha graciously provided funding to any organization or movement that sought to undermine one of its neighbors’ regimes. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who serves as Qatar’s national mufti, frequently bragged about Doha’s role in fueling protests throughout the Arab world. Qatar’s satellite television channel, Al-Jazeera, provided airtime to rebel and opposition groups in almost every country, in an effort to wreak havoc and confuse the public.

Now, all of the sudden, Doha is “concerned.” It is suddenly interested in peace and stability. It is opposed to public unrest and fears “foreign” attempts to intervene in a country’s domestic affairs. How despicable. This is nothing but an appeal to Iran, in an effort to win over support from Tehran. Qatar is finally getting a taste of its own medicine. It’s about time!

– Amal Hizzani

Al-Hayat, London, July 25

Last week, the Israeli parliament passed the Jewish Nation-State Bill, which defines Israel as the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people and denies the rights of any other national or religious minorities as equal citizens. The law also stipulates that the “unified” and “undivided” city of Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel, referring not only to the parts of the city that were occupied in 1948, but also to those that were captured from Jordan in 1967. To add salt to injury, the status of the Arabic language, which was until today an official language in the country, has been downgraded to one with a “unique status.” Furthermore, the law explicitly and unapologetically calls for the expansion of settlements in the entire “Land of Israel,” referring to territories in the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Galilee.

The law’s implicit goal, in other words, is to complete the task of taking over Palestine by erasing any last remaining connection of the Palestinians to their very own land. While so far this has been done in practice, now there is also constitutional backing to this effort. It is important to remember the idea for this law is not new. Ever since the Zionist movement was formed in Europe, Zionist Jews sought to establish a homeland that would be open only to the Jewish people. And while previous manifestations of this aspiration at least seemingly took into account the rights of minorities living in Israel, the terminology used in this recent bill doesn’t even pretend to safeguard the rights of Arabs, Druze, Christians, and Cesareans – all of whom are rightful citizens of Israel, and who constitute over 20% of the population.

Thankfully, it is exactly this very last point that might be the silver lining. Israel’s non-Jewish minority now constitutes roughly a fifth of the population. Taken together with the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, this sizable population suddenly becomes a threat to the Jewish state. Indeed, demographic projections conducted by the Israeli government itself show that in a little over a decade, by 2030, Palestinians will make up a majority of the population in Palestine. This natural growth rate of the population far exceeds the Israeli one.

Therefore, the Israeli parliament can waste its time and energy passing whatever laws it wants. The reality on the ground is the only thing that matters. And the reality, thankfully, is working against the Jewish ethnocratic nation state.

– Nabil Saheli


Al-Itihad, UAE, July 27

The name of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again came to the headlines in recent days, following a meeting he held with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang last week. Since entering office on April 26, exactly three months ago, Pompeo spent a considerable amount of time touring the world on various diplomatic missions. Two of his primary objectives have been the talks with Pyongyang on nuclear disarmament of the Korean Peninsula, as well as the US decision to pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Pompeo is a sharp statesman. Not only did he graduate top of his class from both the US Military Academy in West Point and Harvard Law School, he also held a wide range of remarkable leadership positions in both the public and private worlds. He served in the Army, in Congress and eventually, as the head of the CIA. All of these experiences paved his path to the White House. And unlike his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, Pompeo understood Trump’s mindset extremely well from day one on the job. While Tillerson used sophisticated language and boasted his credentials to Trump, Pompeo knows how to convey information to the president in a persuasive and concise manner, without triggering the latter’s narcissism.

White House officials have repeatedly cited Pompeo as one of Trump’s closest confidants. He has the right combination of book and street smarts, which are crucial traits to have in the Trump administration. All in all, figures like Pompeo provide reason for optimism. They are a clear source of positive influence on a president who lacks experience and understanding in many global affairs. Pompeo is a true Republican who has been a member of the GOP for several decades. He believes in American leadership and global domination, and does not shy away from using force to achieve his country’s foreign policy objectives.

This fact has not gone unnoticed by the mullahs in Tehran who truly seem to fear Pomepo, as well as by Kim Jong-un, who treats the American delegation under Pompeo’s leadership with utter respect. This is the type of aide Trump would be wise to surround himself with: bright, humble, and above all, loyal deputies who can translate his vision into real-world policy.

– Ridwan al-Sayed


Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, July 17

When US President Donald Trump entered office in January 2017, many people in the Middle East hoped that Obama’s policy of appeasement and placation toward Iran would finally come to an end. Unfortunately, recent events confirm the concern that, barring the US, most countries in the world still choose to turn a blind eye to the dangers posed by Iran.

Last week, two Saudi oil tankers were targeted and hit by Houthi terrorists in the Bab al-Mandab Straights. While no crew members were injured in the incident, the attack damaged the two vessels and forced Saudi Arabia to halt all of its export of oil through the Red Sea. Oil prices immediately jumped. European states, however, seemed too preoccupied to care. Not a single government, let alone a representative of the European Union, issued a message in response to this belligerent attack. The word “Houthis” or “Iran” was never mentioned.

Meanwhile, Tehran responded by issuing a public threat against the US, warning Trump that international shipping routes in the Red Sea would become “unsafe” for American vessels. My question here is simple: How can we possibly take the Europeans seriously when they fail, time and again, to show that they care about human rights? How can we trust European representatives who visit our region and deliver empty promises – such as the EU’s special envoy to the Yemen peace process, for example – when Brussels can’t even issue a condemnation of an attack carried out against Saudi Arabia in international waters?

This kind of hypocrisy is the biggest challenge we face today. Saudi Arabia can only refrain from action so much. It will not accept a reality in which a rogue terrorist organization, backed by Iran, threatens its borders and its territorial waters. The only international player that is taking the Iranian threat seriously is Trump. It’s time for Saudi Arabia to take matters into its own hands and use whatever means necessary, including force, to secure its borders and protect its sovereignty.

– Muhammad Ayash

As reported by The Jerusalem Post