The victory by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Iranian presidential election was both huge and surprising, as most analyses predicted his defeat or at least a second round that would lead him to run against his reformist opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, wrote the Jordanian daily al Rai's political editor. So will Iran's policy remain the same as in the past four years and will it be able to impose its own political agenda on the region, despite an announced change in American policy under the new president, Barack Obama?
For the newspaper, it is too early to speculate or predict which "path" the new Ahmadinejad administration will choose, particularly because his victory has created a shock wave in the political arena that threatens a new form of rebellion by the reformist side. This was anticipated by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who issued a statement lauding the electoral process and the results achieved and warning against jeopardising the revolution. Iran is entering a new era, albeit with the same Ahmadinejad as second man behind the Supreme Leader, while the reconciliatory tone in the US president's address to the Arab and Islamic world is still echoing in the region. The country, which has re-elected Ahmadinejad, will have to think thoroughly before reproducing the same old discourse.
President Barack Obama's speech to the Arab and Islamic world provoked an unprecedented flow of comments, analyses and interpretations in the region, wrote Mohammed Mokhtar al Fal, in an opinion article published by the Saudi Arabian daily al Watan.
The speech was carefully written and read by an outstanding orator who gained the admiration of his audience, mitigating feelings of hatred, anger and frustration spurred by his predecessor. The president's beautifully phrased statements pushed many to wonder whether we should not welcome and interact with this speech, and what we would lose in doing so. As long as we have in mind the suffering caused by the Americans and the unfair treatment and policies, as long as we are not subdued by promises and we do not compromise on basic rights, logic has it that we have nothing to lose if we do respond positively to Obama's invitation.
A distinction has however to be made between flexibility in tactical issues and commitment to guiding principles, and welcoming this invitation should not be at any price. For the author, President Obama represents a new generation of the ruling elite in the US and his invitation to the Arab and Islamic world should not be seen as isolated from the objective policy changes that brought him to power and thus be rejected.
The victory by the liberal movement, with all its components and colours, in the Lebanese legislative elections last week is a sign that the "public mood' in the Arab world has entered a new era of profound change, wrote Said Al Hamad, in his regular column run by the Bahrain daily al Ayyam. After a long experience that lasted almost four decades, Arab public opinion has reached the conviction that rationalism, political realism, moderation and civic modernism are the required alternatives for "annihilating" radicalism in its extremist, fanatic version.
In Kuwait, Islamists have never ceased creating crises with the government, leading to complete paralysis of both the executive and legislative bodies and consequently a halt in all development projects. Radical Islamists and their Christian allies have thrust Lebanon into the vain confrontation of the 2006 war which cost the country $15 billion, and followed with clashes in 2008 when Hizbollah moved into Beirut. But wherever this happens, the citizens are the first victims and are the ones who pay the higher price. They have reviewed their positions, reconsidered their decisions and choices, and opted for a different project, one which promotes moderation, realism and rationalism. This is what happened in Kuwait and in Lebanon, concluded the author.
The four signatories of the Gulf monetary union treaty will soon launch their single currency, wrote Abdullah bin Hajji al Sulaiti, in a column published by the Arabic Qatari daily al Raya, under the title "From reality ... names for the Gulf currency".
The Gulf single currency, which will not be used by Oman or the United Arab Emirates, both countries having pulled out from the monetary union, will have one of 14 names already on a list submitted by the members. These names include suggestions such as karwa, mahwar, qintar, badr, Dana, karam and rayon, but not dinar or riyal to avoid creating any "sensitivities" among the member states. The name has not been chosen yet, and the repercussions of the value of the future Gulf currency on the original national ones remain also unclear, noted the columnist, who expressed the wish that a conference or seminar be organised to discuss the issue, including any positive or negative effects and necessary measures that should accompany the launch of the currency.
* Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji email@example.com