x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Lebanon appears once again in the line of fire

In its editorial, the Emirati daily Al Khaleej commented on Hassan Nasrallah's press conference last Thursday.

In its editorial, the Emirati daily Al Khaleej commented on Hassan Nasrallah's press conference last Thursday. "His speech put matters in a reasonable perspective," said the paper. He noted that accusing Syria of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination was a mistake that led to dire consequences; a scenario that would come back to haunt the country and destroy its precarious stability if the accusations were to touch Hizbollah, following leaks from the special international tribunal investigating the crime.

Mr Nasrallah observed in his speech that the tribunal's investigative body didn't focus on a possible Israeli role in the 2005 assassination, knowing that an acquittal of Syria would necessarily include its closest ally, Hizbollah. "If Syria is being ruled out as a suspect, Israel's role must be investigated as it benefited the most from Mr Hariri's death for two reasons: It eventually led to Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon, which Israel had been lobbying for since 2000. The assassination resulted in dividing the country's once unified attitude towards the resistance. Tel Aviv is now wagering on the international tribunal to spark a new sedition in Lebanon as a preamble to an aggressive attack, the paper said.

"Thousands of young Iraqis are engaged almost daily in a war on the streets. This war sees no use of weapons, but rather bulldozers to remove stalls set up on pavements as these are considered illegal by Baghdad municipality," reports Nasir al Ali in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awasat.

Recently, the municipality has issued new ordinances to undertake surprise "raids" to shut down the street stalls. This has prompted vendors to replace their display stands with ones fitted with wheels so they can escape easily from authorities during inspection campaigns. If street vendors are arrested, they must pay a fine of around IQD 500,000 (AED 1,500) and sign a pledge. Most of them told Asharq al Awsat they would return to display their merchandise. They said they had no other job to do, and this was their sole source of income. A spokesman for the Bagdhad municipality, Hakim Abdul al Zahra, affirmed the city's commitment to confront the problem. "The street merchants use the sidewalks as a market place in violation of the law. Their activities harass pedestrians, who are forced to walk in the street," he said.

"The uproar surrounding the Gaza blockade-defying ships has waned since Libya's Al Amal docked at the Egyptian El Arish port where it unloaded its shipment," says the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial. The calm is temporary, however, as other aid flotillas are preparing to set sail for Gaza.

The ships delivering aid embody the latest form of resistance to occupation. This is a civilised effort that appeals to western traditions and attracts media attention, especially among those in the West that do not sympathise with the concept of siege. Following the bloody attack on Turkey's Mavi Marmara, which resulted in nine Turkish casualties, Israel is in unprecedented disarray as to how to deal with this new phenomenon. Tel Aviv sought the help of its friends around the world and they were prompt to come to its aid, negotiating deals with aid ships to dock in Egypt in exchange for allowing more humanitarian goods into Gaza. "The beseiged people of Gaza are undoubtedly in need of aid, but the main objective of the aid ships is to break the blockade." The Turkish activists that insisted on arriving on Gaza's shores in spite of threats have set a historical precedent and showed the world Israel's true colours. They succeeded in creating a rift between Israel and its only ally in the Islamic world.

In commemoration of the July 23 Revolution in Egypt, Dr Maghazi al Badrawi wrote in Emirati daily Al Bayan: "It was a great revolution that led to great achievements, despite efforts that started some 40 years ago to discredit it."

With the proliferation of media and especially satellite networks, it is noticed that the July Revolution and its leader, Jamal Abdel Nasser, are under systematic attack, although it succeeded in bringing about a "golden age" in Egypt and the Arab World.

During the sixties, more than half of the world's nations had severed diplomatic relations with Israel for its attacks on Arabs, whereas now, more than half Arab countries are themselves maintaining diplomatic and commercial relations with Israel. Egypt in the last century was the heart of the Arab nation and the leader of Africa towards the era of independence and development. Today, Egypt finds itself in a state of animosity with other Arab countries over football games and its share of the Nile water is threatened.

Public opinion is turning against the July Revolution and its greatest objective, which was to assert Egypt's predominance in the greater Arab nation. * Digest compiled by Racha Markem rmarkem@thenational.ae