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Iraq on the verge of a new period

Nahla al Shahhal, a regular columnist for Lebanon's Al Akhbar, wrote: "Some in the region don't believe that the Americans will withdraw from Iraq. This is due to the stupidity that is the main characteristic of the political mind."

Nahla al Shahhal, a regular columnist for Lebanon's Al Akhbar, wrote: "Some in the region don't believe that the Americans will withdraw from Iraq. This is due to the stupidity that is the main characteristic of the political mind." In the past, he said, such people didn't "believe that the Americans were going to occupy Iraq. As such, they continue to run after the events and settle for reacting to them. The Iraqi experience proved that it was too costly and the cost was calculated on a daily basis. Remember how Bush and his crew used to talk about occupying Iraq for decades to come, while some of them used to throw around dates like 2050. The economic crisis shaking the world is structural and not a passing incident and it necessitates changing priorities and capabilities, especially for the United States."

There are many other reasons and factors, the author added, but the most important is this: "It turned out that it is impossible to occupy Iraq. Despite the large number of troops, whether regular or mercenaries, the massive firepower and technology, the unlimited savagery, and the exploitation of the contradictions and weaknesses in a society exhausted after decades of wars and dictatorships, Washington failed to impose its grip on Iraq."

Omar Nachabah, a regular columnist for Lebanon's Al Akhbar, wrote that the main formula for the special tribunal to handle the assassination of the late prime minister Rafik al Hariri was brought in front of the government in 2006 under the title: "a tribunal with an international nature". "But the inability of the Lebanese to unite behind the government back then pushed the prime minister to call on the Security Council to work to transform "the special tribunal into a reality". The prime minister complained to the secretary general of the United Nations about the "refusal of the speaker to convene a session for the parliament to ratify the statute of the tribunal and the bilateral agreement with the United Nations".

"That was in 2006, but today, we see the slogan 'We all support the international tribunal!' carried by everyone." This comes as no surprise, Nachabah wrote. "Our politicians, all of them without exception, have always favoured foreign interference in Lebanese political affairs to stop the civil war, organise the state, and elect the president, so it is no great surprise that they are now enthusiastic about international interference in local legal affairs to convict the assassins."

Muhammad Al-Suheimi, a regular columnist for Saudi Arabia's Al Watan, wrote that ever since the book fair held in the gymnasium of King Saud University in late 1987, "when some prohibited books, like the novel Awlad Haratina by Najib Mahfouz, were sold in the first few hours, the censorship mentality tightened its grip on any book that might infiltrate our cultural arena out of a fear that it might harm our 'uniqueness' or disturb the harmony of our society, which is the best in the world."

In the end, the author said, the publishers realised that the only thing permitted is cook books, but under the condition that they must not contain any pictures of "things with souls" so they must remove even pictures of cows." After a bit more thinking, the author noted, the publishers managed to decipher our "uniqueness" and they came to realise that in order to sell the largest possible number of books in Saudi Arabia, they only have to add to the titles the words: "in Islam".

"But the most prominent role played by "the censorship to guard Saudi uniqueness" was its encouragement of tourism abroad and in publicising foreign book fairs which sell the books prohibited here and enriching foreign publishers beyond our borders."

Maybe, he said, the message of the recent violence, "also expresses an anxiety about Egypt's future. A message aimed at focusing fear on a single sector: individual and mass terrorism. Is there a link between the Al Hussein bomb, the Metro cocktail, and the 'madness' that overtook a poor worker who took out his knife and stabbed an American teacher living in Cairo?" the writer asked. The "season of anxiety", he answered, is different this time around. All the incidents are more akin to a minute of passing madness than to planned operations.

"Thus, Egypt is living through a minute rife with anxiety because of the new balances in the region." * Digest compiled by www.mideastwire.com

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