x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Will October military exercises hide a surprise?

The US and Israel may be preparing a strike on Iran, an Arabic-language editorial suggests. Other topics: Egypt and Iran, and children and violence.

Rumoured October US-Israeli military exercises might be the prelude to an air raid on Iran

It is becoming a bit of a tradition: the closer the United States presidential election comes, the more menacing the US-Israeli rhetoric about the "Iranian threat" becomes, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi noted in its lead editorial yesterday.

With the November 6 US presidential election just around the corner, some reports are suggesting that the US and Israel are planning to carry out major joint military exercises, believed to be the largest in the history of both countries, in October.

"These manoeuvres, which are expected to involve 3,000 US soldiers and many more Israeli troops, would concentrate on how to block possible Iranian-Syrian missile attacks that may come in retaliation to US-Israel air strikes against Iranian nuclear sites," the paper said.

If these reports are accurate, and to all appearances they are, that would mean one of two things: "A) The Israeli authorities are still engaged in psychological warfare against Iran, a trend that has increased in recent months," the paper argued, or "B) These manoeuvres mark the final US-Israeli preparations before the countdown hits zero; that is the launch of a strike on Iran."

The second possibility, the more perilous one, is not easy to rule out. "Israel's war threats against Iran have continued for at least the past two years," the paper said.

Also, reports in the Israeli press have often emphasised the enthusiasm of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Ehud Barak, for a strike on Iran, even if Washington were to oppose it.

Israel's recurring argument has been that a nuclear Iran cannot be tolerated because it will always represent "an existential threat" to Israelis.

Iran has not shown any notable signs of anxiety about these Israeli threats. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, confidently promised "a crushing response" to any Israeli aggression.

And for his part, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah in Lebanon and one of Iran's strongest allies, warned Israel in his latest speech that "all hell will break loose" if any part of Lebanon is attacked.

In other words, Israel's enemies are not that afraid of its perceived might, at least not at the level of rhetoric.

Of course, the US is a world superpower and, proportionately, Israel is a military power to be reckoned with in the Middle East, the paper conceded.

"But the Iranians, with the Syrians and Hizbollah on their side, know well that if that war ever takes place, it will be the ultimate one to fight, and so won't hesitate to respond forcefully to any aggression," the paper said in conclusion.

"The next few months might reshape the region, and if that happens, it is a sure thing that Israel will not come out of it unchanged."

The Brotherhood and the Iranian model

The relationship between Cairo and Tehran has swung up and down over the past decade, Abdul Rahman Al Rashed remarked in the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat yesterday.

Some observers believe that affection exists between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian revolution, though if so this has not resulted in a political relationship - yet.

"Looking into the Brotherhood's literature, the Iranian experience appears to be a subject of admiration," the writer said. "My fear is that the new Egyptian government will imitate it."

The writer warned against copying the Iranian model because it would only lead to the abyss, adding that the sole Islamic model worthy of emulation is the Turkish one, the one most consistent with the aspirations of the Egyptian revolution.

So far, President Mohammed Morsi has managed to remove the ruling military council and to sideline the Tahrir square revolutionaries, which seems akin to what happened in Iran following the 1979 Khomeini revolution, the writer pointed out.

The Iranian revolution had aligned itself with different national parties, and afterwards turned against them and monopolised all power. And after the end of the eight-year war with Iraq, which exhausted the Iranian army, Iran had devised alternative police and military institutions, he said.


Conflicts affecting children emotionally

Mulling over pictures of children celebrating Eid, one finds that what the images say is opposite to what the story says, Noor Lmahmoud wrote in the UAE-based daily Al Khaleej.

The story tells you about joyful kids and how they have spent the holidays playing and having fun, while the photo tells you that children have become a "toy in the hands of politicians" and victims of violence and warfare raging in their countries, the writer noted.

Guns are children's best tools to play and celebrate Eid. A news photograph showing a boy posing with a plastic rifle was quite telling. The picture is "emblematic of the atmosphere of violence such kids have familiarised themselves with", the paper said.

The rifle is now the children's companion and their favourite toy to engage in little wars with their peers and brothers, the writer went on. "Houses have become full of feuding brothers".

These plastic toys do not hurt children physically, but they reflect their emotional suffering. It is the consequence of their coexistence with the violence and fear that have become part and parcel of their childhood.

In conflict-struck countries, generations of children grow up amid roaring weapons and with sights of the injured, the killed and blood.

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk