x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Egypt rebuffs idea of election monitoring

In a commentary for the Bahraini daily Al Wasat, Walid Noueihed said the Egyptian foreign ministry's response to the US call to deploy foreign monitors in the upcoming elections was bold and worthy of analysis.

In a commentary for the Bahraini daily Al Wasat, Walid Noueihed said the Egyptian foreign ministry's response to the US call to deploy foreign monitors in the upcoming elections was bold and worthy of analysis.

His response indicated that the US does not respect the privacy of Egypt in a way that has incensed Egyptian nationalism, adding that Egypt rejected pressure that undermines its sovereignty. The Egyptian reaction came following a meeting between the Egypt Working Group, a bipartisan group of senators and foreign analysts in Washington, and senior US officials. The group demanded that Cairo assures a free vote and allows international monitors to have access to the polls.

Egypt expressed its dismay over the group's demands by warning against the consequences of meddling in such a critical issue as elections. It especially cautioned against the old-school international trusteeship that gives rights to outsiders to protect the interests of the country's people.

The statement by the Egyptian authorities was clear as it highlighted a threshold that should not be crossed as Washington and Cairo have enjoyed friendly relations based on mutual respect since the 1970s. Egypt rebuffed US calls, regardless of the good intentions of Washington, and criticised the narrow-minded agenda of some lobby groups.


Lebanon expands its protection net

"Russia and Lebanon may enter a new phase of bilateral relations as Russia has granted Lebanon military assistance," wrote Walid Shaqir in an opinion article for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

This came during the visit of the Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri to Russia, which pledged to provide Lebanon with T-72 tanks. Russia has never provided grants of this size to a state that is "not in its geopolitical sphere of interest".

This suggests that Russia intends to develop strategic political and economic relations with Beirut, which is seen as a key to expanding its ties in the region. Kremlin officials may find Lebanon as the right passageway to guarantee Russia a more prominent role in the peace process in the Middle East.

Moscow also seeks to put Lebanon back on the international oil and gas pipelines map, a network of strategic links that constitute the basis of great political and strategic regional plans. Additionally, the two countries were involved in talks over the past few days focused on the possibility of providing major Russian companies with guarantees from Moscow to build a number of power plants in Lebanon and to pump Russian gas through the Arab pipeline on the Syrian-Lebanese border.

The strategic partnership with Russia is likely to strengthen Lebanon and protect it from excessive outside interference.


Iran is on standby for a defensive war

"Although Iranian politicians rule out the scenario of pre-emptive strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities or conventional forces, the military elites oftens warn of an armed conflict with foreign powers," wrote Mazen Hammad in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.  

"It is no exaggeration to say that we are on the brink of an imminent war," Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards, was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the Iranian armed forces have remained on standby to counter any attack that the US or Israel may launch. As part of its preparedness campaign, Iran undertook militray drills of five days to test its defensive abilities, including what it described as a new air defence system. It also implemented a simulated attack on its nuclear facilities.

Tehran said that its radar network is able to detect any suspicious movement in the air. Officials announced that Tehran would soon unveil a new missile, manufactured locally and modelled on the Russian S-300.

According to analysts, the exercises were aimed at testing the air defence system and the performance of officers. Yet because Iran has not been tested in a real war since 1988, many western experts doubt that the Iranian air force will be able to repel a comprehensive attack involving the F-35 aircraft, which the US has promised to give to Israel.


Arabs need to record modern history

In a commentary article for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir, Seatea Nourredine wrote that recording great moments of history is no longer observed in the Middle East.

Arab readers, who search for information that once was banned from circulation in Arabic for security or religious reasons, have found an alternative in books published in the West.

The recent political books coming from the West were rarely reviewed, because for most readers they bring in hard facts. Yet some of them presented exaggerated accounts of events.

Nevertheless, "this flow of publications is a kind of cultural invasion, which imposes a new set of values and knowledge on an audience that lives in an information vacuum and intellectual chaos. Probably this is the most benign invasion that the Arab Muslim world has faced. Hopefully, this will prompt Arab and Muslim writers to follow the same tradition and start documenting their history once again."

It is a tradition in western cultures to record historic events, even though sometimes in a subjective manner. However, many recent books should be dealt with in the assumption that they are likely to determine the West's strategic trends and also its relations with the Middle East for decades to come.


* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi