x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Hamas's weaknesses threaten Gaza stability

"Arabs might be surprised when the status quo explodes in Gaza at any given moment, for all indications point to turmoil simmering in the streets," suggested Tariq al Hmayed in his opinion article for London-based Al Shaq Al Awsat.

"Arabs might be surprised when the status quo explodes in Gaza at any given moment, for all indications point to turmoil simmering in the streets," suggested Tariq al Hmayed in his opinion article for London-based Al Shaq Al Awsat. The indicators are many: Hamas has imposed control on a bank in Gaza and issued strict tax laws despite the grave hardships facing citizens. Such drastic measures drove the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to issue a statement warning against an insurgency in the community that would breed social problems and certainly drive youths to immigration.

Hamas is struggling with financial problems that may have been brought about by the crisis in Tehran, where that regime is trying to secure liquidity in case the nuclear issue worsens any further. The Gaza crisis seems to be aggravated especially by the noted absence of any political role for Hamas, which has had to issue official statements warning residents against communicating with Israeli intelligence. "Why would Gazans want to communicate with their enemy?" asked the writer. "It must be the extent of their hardship under Hamas's mismanagement." In conclusion, the commentator repeats his fear of a sudden outbreak that would surely compound the catastrophe.

In a comment piece for the Emirati daily Al Bayan, Sobhi Gandour, the manager of the Arab Dialogue Centre in Washington DC, wrote that the real conflict in the Arab region revolves around the "identity of the conflict".

It is clear that the greatest danger facing Arabs at the moment is their preoccupation with internal conflicts in their own countries, which in turn breeds various threats that tear at the Arab body as a whole. "For more than a century, Arab life was based on the trilogy of nationalism, pan-Arabism and religion. After the fall of the Ottoman state, Britain and France devised a new map for the Arab region, dividing it into separate countries for separate Arab peoples." Their first objective was to replace a common Arab identity with local divided identities, weakening every part.

That phase was followed by efforts to impose a cultural westernisation in different forms in Arab countries in a bid to create discrepancies between these new national identities and their original identities of Arabism and Islamic culture. Arabs today need to remember the trilogy of identity if they are to overcome their differences. "The current situation in Arab countries is negative and does not reflect pan-Arabism." If Arabs are to become a force to be reckoned with, they must find ways to unite among themselves on political, social, economic and military levels.

"Lebanon is on the verge of war," states Ali Hamade in an opinion piece for Lebanese Al Nahar newspaper. The Middle East is coming into a dangerous phase that might culminate in a war this year. War would either involve Iran or Hizbollah in Lebanon, or both in case Iran chooses to launch Hizbollah into a war with Israel or the United States. Washington has been able to deter Israel from starting a military confrontation with Iran for the moment in a bid to wear Iran down internally with a long and tedious international siege.

The real fear is that the Americans are pushing in the direction of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement that would help to stop any Iranian interference in the region, while opening the way for Israel to exert more pressure over Hizbollah. Washington has given Israel more leeway on the Lebanese front regarding Hizbollah's armaments. He concludes by saying that the possibilities of war are real for both Iran and Israel with Lebanon as the battlefield. What is required is that the Lebanese factions directly tied to Iran realise that destructive projects on Lebanese soil will be deterred and that it is only in the support of their country that the Lebanese will unite.

In an article for the Qatari daily Al Watan, Jawad al Bishiti sharply criticised the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his campaign against the niqab and burqa "under the pretext of safeguarding French values and women's liberty and dignity". "I am against him because he is a hypocrite who is 'veiling' the real motive for his campaign against the niqab, because admitting his motives would reveal his political defects."

In his opinion, France's tragedy lies in the fact that it is governed by a person such as Mr Sarkozy who lacks perspective and hasproven time after time that he is not fit for command. He has failed to prove to his people and to the world his abilities as a leader, which has led to the dwindling of his popularity. This is what is driving him to look for "cheap popularity", using the niqab issue as the perfect tool.

Mr Sarkozy is speaking to the French people's basic instinct of nationalism now that he cannot win their minds and their hearts, so he is convincing them that the niqab is the real danger that threatens their cultural values. * Digest compiled by Racha Makarem @Email:rmakarem@thenational.ae