x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Iran is now Israel's top priority

A daily round-up of news and comments from publications in the region.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is reported to spend most of his day calling US Congress members to rail against Iran, wrote Mazen Hammad in an opinion article run by the Qatari daily Al Watan. He has been doing so since the announcement by Tehran that a second nuclear reactor was under construction near the city of Qom, noted the columnist. "If we don't move now, when should we then?" the Israeli prime minister has asked every one congressman he has called, urging them to exert more pressure on the White House to obtain a harsher position toward the Iranian nuclear issue.

He also openly told his interlocutors that he wished the US reaction to the Iranian announcement would include a green light for the use of military force against Tehran's nuclear facilities, in addition to paralysing sanctions.   According to intelligence reports, added the columnist, Israel has known about this second Iranian nuclear plant since 2006, when the construction work on the facility was launched.  

When Farouk Hosni lost the race for the Unesco's director general seat, he decried a treacherous conspiracy by a large number of northern countries which could not accept the idea of victory of a candidate from the south, wrote Mohammed Zine Aidarous in the Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah. The conspiracy theory is essentially an Arab invention. It is also an Arab curse, wrote the columnist.

When Egypt lost the poll for hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Egyptian officials immediately declared that a conspiracy was behind the country's zero vote. This nation is haunted by the idea of conspiracy. Instead of looking into the causes of its failures and admitting its mistakes that would remedy to the situation and avoid disappointment, it stubbornly insists on keeping to the same course. Many Arab and Egyptian intellectuals recommended that Cairo find another candidate for the Unesco post, precisely because Hosni had little chance to win. Let's say it frankly: Egypt made a mistake by proposing Farouk Hosni for the Unesco seat and there was actually no conspiracy nor anything like it at all.

The Americans have finally decided to scrap a project to install a ballistic missile shield in East Europe, namely in Poland and the Czech Republic, wrote Mohammed Abdullah in the Bahraini daily Al Wasat.   The decision definitely seems to be a good one, despite being motivated by growing Russian and Chinese pressure. The decision was automatically linked with the Iranian nuclear issue and described as part of a deal between the superpowers in which Tehran would be the biggest loser. Yet the new arrangement seems to go beyond the restricted scope of such a deal. It might even have no link to Iran, particularly after the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, said the "vision of the Iranian threat has changed, the focus has shifted towards short and mid range missiles".  

Europe today does not want a confrontation with Russia and does not believe in the need for a new Truman doctrine to fight communism. To the contrary, what Europe is seeking are new forms of co-operation. With the US dropping their missile plans in East Europe and the Russians abandoning their midrange missile deployment on their borders with Poland and Lithuania, the potential for a conflict of interest is close to zero, while there are better prospects for more stable international relations.

In the next weeks, Germany will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of East and West Berlin, which is the most significant event in the history of Europe after the Cold War, wrote Khaled Mehio in the comment section of the Emirati daily Al Ittihad. But, 20 years on, and after Germany has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to make sure its past communist ties are severed and standards of living are homogenised in the country, the reality on the ground is still not up to expectations. Opinion polls show that one in every 10 East Germans is nostalgic for the past.

This German experience of division must help the Arabs - who less organised and emotionally governed - realise that mending their respective schisms will take far longer than they think. "Every year of division will take five years of repair; every decision eyeing political reunification will take years before it comes to reality in economic, social, cultural and security spheres." Whenever people of the West Bank or Gaza feel like establishing a political, ideological or economic paradigm that is diametrically different from their compatriots, they must call to mind the Berlin Wall.

* Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji mnaji@thenational.ae