"It is no longer difficult to understand the dimensions and justifications for the Iranian expansion, both politically and religiously," wrote Muhammad Khalaf al Sawani, a regular columnist for the independent newspaper Al Ittihad. Arab political mistakes concerning the strategic vacuum in the region are a major concern. "Thanks to the impotence of the Arab regional political system, Arab security has become vulnerable, not only to Iran, but also for other regional and international forces," he wrote.
The latest examples of this impotence is the co-ordinated effort by international forces to protect their interests from piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Iran dispatched warships while Arab countries watched helplessly as if the issue had no impact on them, he wrote. "The Iranian regime has perfected the art of making use of Arab inaction."
Zein al Shami, a Syrian columnist for Kuwait's independent newspaper Al Rai al Aam, wrote an opinion piece saying there were points of disagreement between allies Syria and Iran. "It is a well-known fact that Iran has often expressed its annoyance at the repeated calls by Syrian president Bashar al Assad for peace with Israel," he wrote. "Despite Damascus's and Tehran's alliance against the American presence in Iraq and their tireless effort to keep the Iraqi scene ablaze and their support for the resistance, there are also differences between each side's vision of the Iraqi sectarian map, the future of Iraq and who will rule it," Shami wrote.
"We might see the differences more clearly in the future with the return of the Syrian-Iranian military struggle in Lebanon if Damascus accepts a deal with Israel and the Americans to end Hezbollah's presence in return for returning the Golan Heights."
Syria's state-controlled daily Teshreen editorialised that Israel's intimidation of the Palestinians and occupation of lands harms the stability of the world. "In light of the ongoing Israeli occupation of the Arab territories, and the emergence of new tension zones, mankind will be deprived of a better future. Based on these reasons, we can understand why Syria desires to achieve peace." President Bashar al Assad stressed yesterday in a press conference Syria's serious intention to achieve peace and move from the indirect talks with Israel to direct talks. "Syria hopes the coming American administration will practice its role as an impartial sponsor of the peace process and curb the Israeli aggressive tendency against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."
"Is Syria isolated? Of course it is. Does Syria have any friends? It is difficult to say, as nobody can be absolutely certain of its ties with Tehran and Hizbollah," Tareq Alhomayed wrote in an opinion piece for the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al Awsat.
Reports indicate a possible meeting between Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to inaugurate direct negotiations. "This, if it happens, would be a quick way for the Syrians to break their isolation, evade the obstacles ahead and establish the kind of relations they want with Washington," he wrote in the London-based paper. "Syria's desire to negotiate with Israel seems sincere, even after the issue of the American presidency was settled. Will Assad do it? Will he proceed in the peace process with Israel? If so, it will be equivalent to a coup in the region."
* Compiled by Mideastdigest.com