x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Netanyahu blows up expectations

"The speech this week by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reflected again the racist ideology that governs his view towards peace and coexistence, as well as the priorities of his government," reported the leading article of the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi.

"The speech this week by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reflected again the racist ideology that governs his view towards peace and coexistence, as well as the priorities of his government," reported the leading article of the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi. "Netanyahu was straightforward; he would like to settle the Iranian issue and the economic crisis before talking about peace.

"Thus Netanyahu called on Arabs to immediately normalise their relations with the Jewish state by investing their money in tourist and development projects inside Israel in order to create thousands of jobs for Israelis and Arabs." Netanyahu's message was crystal clear: Arabs need first to recognise the Jewish status of Israel and then Palestinians can go and live in enclave-like cities and villages "with limited sovereignty". Netanyahu cleverly placed "economic peace" of Palestinians among his priorities that should be achieved under occupation and continuing expansion of settlements. Palestinians are in a very delicate position and must quickly overcome their differences. Obviously, it is the responsibility of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to confer with all Palestinian factions and unite their position. But it is alsothe responsibility of all Palestinians to handle their own cause and bid farewell to such worn-out phrases as: "They are to blame."

The secretary-general of the Tehran-based Arab-Iranian Dialogue Forum, Mohammad Sadeq al Hussaini, wrote in an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida that although a huge fuss was made over the government's performance, the turnout in the Iranian election was highly in favour of the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The results countered all poll estimates, leaving the international media and pundits utterly confused."

Admittedly, the government fell into the trap of "western democratic practices" when candidates bitterly engaged in arguments that led sometimes to exchanging accusations involving their personal lives. The elite, together with the opposition, appeared however to "have no strong public base and to be without roots." The election results, no matter how dubious they are, have demonstrated the wide gap between the elite and political parties on the one hand and the people on the other hand.

The elections have also shown that Iranians are capable of positively reacting to internal and external changes far better than the political elite. What is more, the international media outlets, and more particularly Arab ones, failed to grasp the political changes taking place in Iran. The Iranian elections simply came to consolidate further the position of Mr Ahmadinejad in the political life of the Islamic republic.

"Certainly, the assassination of Harith al Obaidi, a senior Sunni MP and head of the Sunni Accordance, will have negative repercussions on the political and security situation in Iraq. This incident is a message to all opposition voices that demand an investigation into violations of human rights and to hold perpetrators to account," reported the leading article of the Qatari newspaper Al Raya.

"This crime is grave. The fact that an armed adolescent managed to sneak into a mosque well-protected by security forces without being noticed implies that there was a complicit plot behind the scenes and there were those who had an interest in fanning the fires of conflict anew between Sunnis and Shi'ites." The murder of the Sunni MP leader cannot be disassociated from other acts of aggression that have recently targeted Sunni leaders in Iraq. The government should be up to the challenge and address the situation by devising effective security measures to prevent the country from falling again into a new spiral of violence. Because safety and security is a common responsibility, the government needs first to achieve a genuine national reconciliation by enabling all factions to take part in governance. "The government should also bear in mind that there are internal and external challenges which may stand as a setback to stability in the country."

"Iran has chosen not to change. It decided to keep its president. It decided to cautiously wait until it receives a new US offer. It decided not to give concessions gratuitously. In sum, it still feels overwhelmed by the feeling of being invincible throughout the last four years, particularly concerning its nuclear ambitions," wrote Satea Nourredine in his regular column for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

"The Iranian elections were held just the way the regime wanted. Amid the post-election riots, the religious and military establishment appear as if to say to the angry pro-reform public: we know more than you do about Iranian national interests, and we know how to preserve them at this critical time of a transition of power in America." Iran is clear and decisive: it is refusing to extend its hand to the Americans. The US president Barack Obama's address in Cairo did not offer ground-breaking incentives to Tehran for more engagement. Increasingly, many would consider that President Obama has opened up to the Sunni Muslim world more than he has done to the Shi'ites. Tehran decided that this is not the ideal time yet to open up or change its president before making sure what it is going to gain in return.

* Digest compiled by Moustapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae