The London-based Asharq al Awsat carried a commentary by Abed al Rahman al Rashid who noted that there is no "principled" Arab position against the Iranian regime. Instead, the bone of contention with this regime "is its hostile programme and activities in the Arab countries". Nevertheless, al Rashid added, there are leaders in Iran who can be regarded as friends, like the Iranian Expediency Council Chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, even though he was accused of adopting a hostile position on Arabs when he was president, and of being responsible for the mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi prisoners during the Iraq-Iran war. However, no one has proved these accusations.
"Rafsanjani's image in the Arab world has greatly improved, perhaps because of the growing extremism characterising the statements of the current leaders in Iran." Rafsanjani has also noticeably been careful not to be hostile to any Arab party and to preserve a reasonably good relationship with the Arabian Gulf states.We have known him as a pragmatic politician, the author concluded. "Thanks to his background as a businessman and as a leader who was not overwhelmed by an ideological interpretation of religion."
Oil: the reason behind the occupation of Iraq
"People are forgetful," wrote Jihad El Khazen in the London-based Al Hayat. "Perhaps this is why they are called human beings, as a poet once said." Continuing, he explained that the Islamic Republic of Iran jeopardises American oil interests in the Gulf and, as such, Washington supported Saddam Hussein's war against Tehran, turned against him after the Kuwait invasion and now pursues its occupation in Iraq. Oil "is the primary reason behind Iraq's occupation, as evidenced by a thousand American documents. Will the cause of the next war be oil, water, or food?" the author asked.
"There are disagreements over the Euphrates between Syria and Turkey, and over the water of the Lake Tiberias between Syria and Israel. Iraqi-Turkish relations are equally plagued by water problems. In addition to stealing Palestine and then the territories of the West Bank, Israel has also built settlements over water sources to leave the rest of the West Bank almost a desert. Its covetousness for Lebanon's water is well-known."
Nevertheless, "the coveted oil, especially in the Middle East, remains the number one cause of any coming war in our region," he concluded. Long-term reform is most important Jassem Boudi, a regular columnist for Kuwait's Al Rai al Aam wrote that a solution for Kuwait's chronically unstable governments is necessary, "but we want more than a solution for the current crisis because no solution can be successful if it doesn't treat the essence of the problem. I believe that the essence of the problem here is our political system which needs to be developed and treated through several reforms that start with the electoral bill to developing a new mechanism for allowing the government to supervise and punish its ministers so that the ministers would be punished by the Prime Minister. The reforms must initiate a white revolution aimed at setting the law above everything else and applying it to the mighty before the weak."
Kuwait must set new precedents and traditions for political life, he added, based on cooperation and harnessing energies towards developmental goals in order "to save our present and future from threats and from the financial crisis. We want an electoral bill that unites and doesn't divide. We want to be done with a Shiite electoral precinct here, a Sunni electoral precinct there, and a tribal precinct everywhere."
Arab divisions leave power vacuum
The Palestinian daily Al Hayat Al Jadidah carried a piece by Hafez al Barghouthi who argued that the Arabs had woken up late to see that Iran is about to possess a nuclear weapon. "As far as Iran is concerned, the revolution it witnessed opened its appetite for expansionism. According to Iran, it is entitled to enjoy an influence in the neighbouring countries that include Shiites. Iran has also enticed some Sunnis."
Iran is not to be blamed, the author added, if it attempts to fill the "Arab vacuum" because the Arab world has not developed a national project. The only project the Arab world has "is one that preserves itself, not its people and land. Therefore, Iran invested less than $2 billion over the past years, and managed to establish an Arab axis." However, he concluded, "the Arab regime has woken up late after the aggression on Gaza, and held a ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi to draft an Arab strategy, which remains incomplete." The Arabs must have a joint nationalistic project to face the threats coming from the east and the west. "However, under the current Arab regime, there is nothing but denouncement, condemnation, and accusing others of conspiracy."
* Digest compiled by www.mideastwire.com