Aware of the importance of the people-army-resistance structure in every nearby Arab state, Israel nurtures internal Arab conflicts in hopes of seeing them evolve into civil wars, which, in the case of Lebanon, eliminates the chances of a strong national army ever seeing the light of day and, by the same token, disrupts the action of the resistance, wrote Sobhi Ghandour, director of the Washington-based Al Hewar Centre for Arab Culture & Dialogue, in the comment section of the Emirati daily Al Bayane.
The weapons of the resistance did not only liberate Lebanon from Israeli occupation, they have also established Lebanese sovereignty over all its territories. That is, putting an end to Israeli occupation has led to the gradual withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, which was later completed as per the Taif Agreement. "I do not seem to understand, then, how the weapons of the resistance would suddenly become fuel to political tensions? And, who will be appointed to disarm the resistance, should one assume that such a measure is necessary?" In the end, what will happen is that Lebanese parties will be coaxed, from the outside, to take that responsibility, which will only make the sectarian situation explode in the country.
The Middle East is awaiting with great excitement the US president Barack Obama's speech in Cairo next Thursday, a speech expected to put the region on new, more promising rails, commented Saleh al Qallab in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.
"Based on the declarations of the US president, the vice president Joe Biden, and the secretary of state Hilary Clinton, the main theme of the speech will be the Arab Peace Initiative which, premised on the two-state solution, aims to establish an independent Palestinian state besides the Israeli state, and tackle other outstanding issues such as the refugees question and the right of return, stipulated in the Security Council resolution Number 194."
Of course, all these prospective steps will have to be preceded by three crucial measures in good faith on the part of Israel: freeze the settlements, remove the Israeli barriers throughout the West Bank, and lift the blockade on Gaza. But, sensing Obama's determination, the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has started acting quite nervously lately, and in contrast to what he said about the Golan Heights recently - that Israel will never withdraw from the territories proclaimed - he has declared readiness to enter "unconditional" negotiations immediately with Damascus.
Some seculars leaders say that, before deciding to make a foray into politics, a religious person must leave noble ethics and principles at home before stepping into the sleazy atmosphere of the politician's world, wrote Lateef al Qassab in the opinion pages of the Iraqi daily Azzaman. "This postulate actually gives us a glimpse into the ramifications of the Arab political heritage, rife as it is with conspiracy and deceit, and clues us in about the effect of radical discourse on the way Iraqis conceive of various concepts."
In today's Iraq, there is a peculiar religious approach to the world of politics, taking after a western Machiavellian model, which, though widely abandoned by westerners themselves, is now embraced by some religious leaders and intellectuals who are trying to rehash it and inject it forcibly into the Iraqi crisis. Ranging between categorical forbiddance, strong disapproval and mild dissuasion, religious jurisprudence says that a pious person must not enter the political sphere on grounds that it is a hotbed of great sin and debauchery. Thus, Iraq's toddler democracy has not succeeded yet in integrating an objective counter-model in the popular psyche to offset a deeply imbedded history of dictatorship.
"The nearly daily uncovering of agents and spy activities in Lebanon is bewildering, considering the country's small population," commented Zouhir Majed in the Omani daily Al Watan. "Agent operations have not shied away from official institutions as sensitive as the military, public security and customs, while the number of the spies is still on the rise. Some talk about hundreds, others propose four-digit figures."
Members of the Lebanese opposition claim they have whole lists with the names of persons to be arrested and prosecuted in espionage cases, plus other undeclared agents held in custody. "In fact, it is hardly astonishing to uncover spy activity in Lebanon these days. It has become more of a cultural phenomenon, almost part of the local folklore." And if the Lebanese police are doing their best these days to dismantle espionage networks all around the country, Israel is sparing no effort in recruiting and training more spies bound for Lebanon.
In a way, it is quite understandable: the larger the conflict, the graver the role of espionage. Israel must benefit a great deal from spy operations, mainly targeting Hizbollah. * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi firstname.lastname@example.org