News from the Middle East


What Others Are Saying

Whatever Tehran does, it will never succeed

Ahmed Al-Jarallah in Kuwait’s Arab Times writes:  Iran has been interfering in the internal affairs of other Arab and Islamic countries since 1979 by committing political and social crimes. Iran has stirred sedition in Lebanon, Iraq and many other nations in a desperate attempt to control the fate of these countries. Iran is now trying to fix its distorted image through the bullying tactics used by Saeed Jalali in Beirut, as well as its promises to the Syrian regime and the terrorist operation in Sinai desert. Whatever Tehran does, it will never succeed because it is like a snake biting itself for lack of something else to bite. Indeed, the international community can no longer tolerate the troubles and destruction caused by the ‘snakes’ of the Tehran regime.

Few are fooled anymore

Michael Young in The Daily Star, Lebanon writes: Few are fooled anymore. Gone are the days when Hezbollah and its leader, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, won popularity contests in Arab streets. Thanks to Syria, the Arab world has been cracked by the pulsations of sect. Hezbollah’s old partner Hamas has largely abandoned the Assads, as have the different branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, above all in Egypt. Long before Bashar Assad ordered his warplanes to bomb civilians, Syrians were already burning Iranian and Hezbollah flags, grasping that power politics, but also communal fear and solidarity (even if Shiites and Alawites remain considerably different), reinforced Shiite backing for the Alawites. As for Hezbollah’s devotion to the Iranian leadership, the party’s growing isolation over Syria has strengthened the umbilical cord tying it to Tehran. It is nothing new for Hezbollah members to act as covert operatives for Iran. From Iraq to Latin America, and now in Syria, only the naive would insist there is much sunlight between Iranian military and security institutions and those of Hezbollah.

Israeli hospital treating kids from Gaza

Israel 21C reports:  Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip are a daily fact of life for the communities of southern Israel. Yet in the midst of the tension, four very sick pediatric nephrology patients from Gaza are receiving treatment in northern Israel… all suffer from kidney insufficiency and have been hospitalized for several months at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. They have been receiving lifesaving therapy while awaiting kidney transplants. Mahdi Tarabia, head nurse of the Pediatric Nephrology Unit, explained that the treatment they need, peritoneal dialysis, is not available in the West Bank and Gaza, so medical authorities from these areas cooperate with Rambam to save children’s lives… Each of the young patients’ families has been trained by Rambam’s staff to administer peritoneal dialysis. The families received the equipment required for this treatment, and the solution used with it, from Teva Pharmaceuticals. The company will arrange to have supplies conveyed through the Erez checkpoint at the border of Israel and Gaza. 

Muslim Riots Reach Europe

Gatestone Institute reports:  A radical Islamist, Abu Assad al-Almani, has called for bombings and assassinations in Germany after it emerged that the actor who plays Mohammed in the anti-Islam movie was allegedly German. In an 8-page document, entitled “Settling Scores with Germany,” and posted on the Internet on September 25, Abu Assad states: “In addition to the ugly cartoons, now the Americans have produced a film in which those pigs poke fun at our dear prophet and insult him.” Abu Assad continues: “The one who played our noble Messenger was a German;” he then calls for revenge attacks. He asks Muslims in Germany to attack any German citizen who supports the film by “cutting their heads from their bodies and capturing it on film so that it is accessible to the public, so that the whole of Germany, and even the whole of Europe, knows that their criminal games will be thwarted by the sword of Islam.” The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) says the document has been produced by a group called the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), the European propaganda arm which supports Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic organizations. The BKA says it is taking the threat “very seriously.”

Syria. Official media lashes out at Hamas leader

UAEs Khaleej Times reports: Syria’s state-run media unleashed a scathing attack on the leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, accusing him of turning his back on President Bashar Assad and describing him as ungrateful and traitorous. In an editorial aired late on Monday, Syrian TV said Khaled Mashaal, who pulled Hamas’ headquarters out of Damascus early this year, had abandoned the resistance movement against Israel and the United States. The comments show just how deeply ties between Hamas and the Syrian regime — once staunch allies — have frayed since the anti-Assad uprising erupted 18 months ago. The regime’s verbal attack appeared to be prompted by Mashaal’s decision to take part in a major conference on Sunday of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party. Erdogan has been one of Assad’s sharpest critics. Less than two years ago, Syria, Iran, Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group were part of what they called an “axis of resistance” against Israel and the United States. With Hamas’ departure, they lost a major Palestinian faction that rules the Gaza Strip. Relations between Assad’s regime and Hamas have been disintegrating ever since the Syrian revolt erupted in March 2011 with protests demanding reforms.

Poor Education and Rising Extremism Key Challenges Facing Muslim World

PAK Institute for Peace Studies reports:  Lack of a culture of research and enquiry, indifference to modern education, and growing trends of sectarianism and religious extremism are the key challenges facing Muslim world today. This was acknowledged by Islamic scholars from Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, Bangladesh and Malaysia in a international conference on “The Emerging Challenges and the Responses from Religious Scholars,” organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in Islamabad on September 17-18. Islamic scholars asserted that the faith ordained in the Quran was meant to establish peace among people and did not permit violence. They also noted that the Muslim world had largely disengaged from study of science and the process of creating new knowledge. Neither were there any efforts to revive the science of developing independent opinions (Ijtihad) to develop a renewed understanding of how to apply Islamic precepts in ever changing affairs of world. Khwaja Khalid Farooq, national coordinator for the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NCTA) was the chief guest in the reception ceremony. He said that the divide between the Muslim and non-Muslim world was increasing due to the concept of clash of civilization. He said Islamic scholars need to address the current challenges faced by the Muslims, particularly the sectarian divide among Muslims, which is a major hurdle in evolving a united response to these challenges. He urged Islamic scholars to come up with some solution to the issues such as extremism, sectarianism and terrorism. 

Here we go again! Estelle: Latest ship to try to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza

Middle East Online reports: The Estelle, the latest ship to try to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza as part of the “Freedom Flotilla” movement, will set sail from Naples in southern Italy on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the movement said. “The Estelle will be leaving in two days time, probably towards sundown. We are ready,” Ann Ighe said by telephone. “We think it will take around two weeks to get to Gaza, but it will obviously also depend on the weather conditions,” she added.  The Estelle, whose voyage is being organised by an international pro-Palestinian coalition, will be carrying humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip. There will be 17 activists from around the world on board, including passengers and crew from Canada, Israel, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

New Egyptian constitution offers fewer religious freedoms, critics allege

Egypt’s AhramOnline reports: Members of Egypt’s Constituent Assembly, the body tasked with drafting Egypt’s post-uprising constitution, are purportedly finished with drafting the chapter on the freedoms, rights and duties of citizens. The assembly is largely seen as being dominated by Islamist forces, which have won large gains in legislative and presidential elections after the 2011 January Revolution. Liberals and secularists have expressed concerns about the impact an Islamist-dominated drafting body will have on the character of the future charter, in particular in relation to key freedoms. Article 8 of the draft constitution is at the heart of the debate, as it stipulates citizens’ religious freedoms. Religious rights and freedoms, and the issue of sectarian tensions between members of Egypt’s majority Muslim population and its Christian minority, remain controversial. One of the many problems that Egypt’s Christian minority complains of are the difficulties of building and repairing churches, as both acts are subject to state control. A law was drafted in 2011 to address the problem but is yet to be put into effect. Facing even graver difficulties than Christians are followers of the Bahai faith, a monotheistic religion established in the nineteenth century by the religion’s prophet Bahaaullah. The Egyptian state does not recognize the faith, leaving its Egyptian followers to face discrimination and difficulties in the most rudimentary aspects of civil life, such as registering marriages.

Amman tense for rival demonstrations

The Arab News, Saudi Arabia reports: A showdown is looming between Jordan’s government and the opposition, with two massive rival demonstrations slated for tomorrow in the capital Amman, raising fears of an escalation of tension. According to organizers, around 200,000 supporters of King Abdullah II’s plans for reforms will rub shoulders with an expected 50,000 backers of the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition bloc, with the rallies set to take place at the same time at the same location. “Our demonstration will be peaceful and civilised,” said Zaki Bani Rashid, a Brotherhood official, reiterating the group’s demands for a “fair electoral law, a serious fight against corruption and constitutional reforms.” He dismissed as “provocative rumors” claims that the rally would call for the king to leave power, blaming “suspicious parties who want to spark a crisis.” “We must stop demonizing the Islamic movement, and stop inciting it.”

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