x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Iran lives with dual character

"Tehran's mass rally highlighted the dual character of Iranians," wrote Satea Nourredine in an opinion piece for the Lebanese daily Assafir.

"Tehran's mass rally highlighted the dual character of Iranians," wrote Satea Nourredine in an opinion piece for the Lebanese daily Assafir. "On the one hand, an overwhelming majority of the public supports the reformists' agenda of western liberal values. On the other hand, there is the hardline power of the religious and military establishment that is literally committed to a radical  political, religious, and social  model."

It would be premature to conclude that the sudden events that has rumbled Iranian streets will mark a turning point in the history of Iran and consequently give way to a radical change in the Islamic regime. But it has been proven that the majority of Iranians are reformists, and this fact may compel the reformist movement to design a clear political work plan and structure its leadership. "So while waiting for the new reformist agenda to emerge, it is likely that amid the latest developments the conservative regime will review its priorities. This is because it can no longer overlook the claims of the majority of Iranians even if it  tries to deprive them of their votes or oppress them. One possible scenario is that the regime would give the opposition larger margins to manoeuvre outside the system's institutions. It is similarly possible that the authorities would promise a review of its irrational external ambitions." 

"Yemen is facing serious challenges that threaten its security and stability," reported the leading article of the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi. "The most prominent challenges are the Houthi rebellion in the north and the mounting protests against the regime in the south. The kidnapping  of nine foreigners, including five members of one German  family, added another burden on the already crisis-battered  Yemeni government."

Criminal acts like these are neither new nor surprising in Yemen, but this time the abductors killed  at least three of the nine hostages in Saada district, while the fate of the other six remains unknown. The way kidnappers behaved left no room for doubt that they aimed at disrupting the stability of the country and embarrassing the government as well as damaging further the faltering tourism industry.

"As events unfold, the Yemeni government stands responsible for the crimes committed against foreigners because it does not offer them the necessary protection and does not warn them of staying away from areas of high risk. The government is also to blame for its lax attitude in dealing with lawless tribes. "Yemen today is in dire need of international  support so that it can surmount its crises and prevent the country from sliding into anarchy."

"Some people believe that the US president Barack Obama's description of the speech of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu being a 'great step forward' reflects the way the west treats Israel as a country that emerged as a victim of the Holocaust. It also reflects that the west tends to avoid direct confrontation with the Jewish state," wrote Randa Taqi al Dine in a comment piece featured in the London-based daily Al Hayat.

Others found President Obama's welcome as a step prior to exerting more pressure on Israel to enter into direct negotiations with Palestinian leaders. According to this view, the progress made following the advent of President Obama's administration revealed that the US had pressed the Israeli government in just the same way James Baker did during the former president George HW Bush's era. Backed by both the Congress and the Jewish community, President Obama forced Israel to engage in talks about peace and take some concrete actions. Americans appeared to have adopted a "grading" strategy. First, they want the  Israeli premier to accept the fundamental question: the establishment of Palestinian state. Then they can press him to waive his conditions.  So if Americans read the speech as positive, this means they are willing to put further pressure on Israel. Yet no one can estimate to what degree the US can be successful.

The UAE newspaper Al Khaleej carried an opinion piece by Amjad Araar, who wrote: "The meeting this week between Fatah and Hamas witnessed an exchange of lists of political prisoners held in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Good move as it is, political detention is unacceptable and should be terminated altogether. "Palestinians should understand that freedom is a fundamental human right and cannot by any means be a matter of bargaining, especially since most of the leaders of the Palestinian factions have been jailed previously and experienced hardship in occupation detention centres."

They also should understand that political detention had been one of the causes that led to the current  crisis of division. So if  the intention to put an end to this issue is a genuine one, it will be a major step towards overcoming persistent national differences. Yet for it to be successful, it should  be treated separately and be considered as a main national priority per se. "One year after the national division, all Palestinian forces are urged to engage in self-analysis. If they do, surely they will reach the same conclusion: the state of division in serves the interests of no one."

* Digest compiled by Moustapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae