x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arabs are swayed by foreign ideologies

The Dubai-based daily Al Bayan carried an opinion piece by Mohammed K al Azaar in which he argues that the Arab world has been relentlessly subjected to cultural globalisation after being, for many decades now, a passive receiver of culture.

The Dubai-based daily Al Bayan carried an opinion piece by Mohammed K al Azaar in which he argues that the Arab world has been relentlessly subjected to cultural globalisation after being, for many decades now, a passive receiver of culture. Only last week, officials in Ankara announced the conclusion of the preparations to launch an Arabic-speaking satellite television channel in October.

"Since culture and the media are hardly removed from the world of propaganda and the fashioning of public opinion, we find ourselves forced to believe that a host of concomitant political, economic and psychological goals must be in the pipeline and the Turkish television authority is intent to promote them among their Arab audience." It is noteworthy that the BCC radio celebrates its 75th anniversary of Arabic broadcasting this year. Since the British corporation launched its Arabic radio station, many European countries, besides the US, Russia and China, have followed suit. Looking closely at the content of foreign broadcasting in Arabic, one notices that it does not always correspond to the best interests of the receiver, and Arab media must respond to that. "Nothing will counter this foreign satellite foray into Arab homes better than an equally incisive Arab media that boosts cultural immunity."

Over the past weeks, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, also known as the Pasdaran, has further deepened its influence as the most prominent body in the Iranian regime, commented Jihad el Zein in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

After buying, through its "affiliated corporate group", a 51 per cent stake in the government's telecom company for $7.8 billion, the Revolutionary Guard has moved to a new level of hegemony over key economic interests in the Islamic Republic. This is of considerable significance since the paramilitary body already has some control over oil pipelines, car factories and even laser eye surgery equipment.

Indeed, there are many contemporary examples of how military institutions shaped the face of the political and economic regime within which they operated. In the case of Iran, the Pasdaran has become a source of conflicting interests within the Iranian system. Even the staunchest pro-Ahmadinejad conservatives concede that more than half of the Revolutionary Guard staff voted for Mir Hussein Mousavi in the last presidential elections. So, has the Pasdaran's influence reached such proportions that it may alter the theocratic structure in Iran?

"Nobody seems to be able to understand why Palestinian spokespersons, of all calibres, keep saying that the Palestinian leadership will not resume the negotiations with Israel unless the latter stops all settlement activity, including in Jerusalem, while they have indeed fixed a timetable for talks that are due to begin next week in Washington," stated the former Palestinian minister Ziyad Abu Zayd in the comment section of the Emirati daily Akhbar al Arab.

The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said last week that the tripartite meeting that took place in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly proceedings did not amount to a round of talks, nor would next week's talks be considered as such under the pretext that the two parties will not seek a compromise face to face, but through a US go-between. "Let me make it clear, lest I should be misunderstood, that all I am calling for here is honesty, transparency and a breakaway from all the slogans that simply restrict our deeds," the ex-minister wrote. Wisdom would be to capitalise on the current situation, under a relatively committed US administration, in order to find a resolution to the Palestinian cause. And that wisdom will have consequences only when the inter-Palestinian divide is bridged.

Iran has definitely opted for escalation with the West in a way that calls to mind Winston Churchill's famous saying: "If you're going through hell, keep going," noted the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.

Israel, which is the key party in the crisis no matter how hard some media try to make it look like a strict international concern, considers further progress in Iran's nuclear programme, even if reined in by a compromise with the West, as an existential threat. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, for his part, said during the crucial sermon of the last Friday of Ramadan: "We must preserve our determination to defend our rights in the nuclear field. Relinquishing these or any other rights would amount to the downfall of the regime. We will be on the path to demise if we show those snobs any sign of weakness and if, instead of resisting them, we choose to back down."

Now, if the international community ends up condoning a nuclear Iran, not only will the region explode into an arms race that will debilitate regional and world security, but the global economy will be hit by a calamity incomparable to any other before. * Digest compiled by Achraf A ElBahi aelbahi@thenational.ae