The Arab/Iranian English Language Press: What they are saying

News in brief from the media

Apology Worse Than The Crime

The Arab Times, Kuwait reports: The Iranian apology to the United Nations Security Council over the attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad is, to say the least, worse than the crime itself. This is because the apology insinuates how the regime of peacocks in Tehran belittles the issues concerning the sovereignty of other countries and its lack of recognition for this sovereignty — a clear testimony to years of aggression against Saudi Arabia and the other GCC countries. Therefore, it is acceptable to fall for this ‘regret’ but the focus should be on the aggression itself. The attacks necessitate stern international position against the regime which does not respect and honor international agreements and pacts. The leaders of Tehran will definitely be hallucinating if they think they can pull the wool over the eyes through a statement which hides in its lines many evil intentions or stop the storm of condemnation and severing relations.

Jordan renews support for Saudi Arabia

The Jordan Times reports: His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday reviewed in separate telephone calls with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz regional developments, according to a Royal Court statement. In the two telephone calls, talks focused on Saturday’s assaults on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, which the statement described as “a blatant violation of international conventions”. His Majesty renewed Jordan’s full support for Saudi Arabia in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to protect its security and stability. His Majesty strongly condemned the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, the statement said. For their part, the Saudi monarch and deputy crown prince thanked Jordan for its stand and support, the Royal Court added. 

Djibouti cuts ties with Iran after attacks on Saudi missions

The Daily Star, Lebanon reports: Djibouti cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday, its foreign minister said, in response to the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran by Iranian protesters. The tiny Horn of Africa nation, which is home to the United States’ only military base on the African continent, joins Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan in entirely severing relations with Iran. “Djibouti cut its diplomatic ties with Iran out of solidarity with Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf told Reuters in a text message.

Palestinian Authority adrift after a long unrest

The Oman Observer reports: Three months into a wave of violence some have likened to a new uprising, the Palestinian Authority has found itself adrift and increasingly out of touch with frustrated youths behind the unrest, analysts say. There is even speculation of an eventual collapse of the PA, the governing authority set up under the 1990s Oslo accords that were meant to lead to a final peace deal. “Young people see no political horizon and suffer from economic crisis and unemployment,” with nearly half jobless compared with more than 27 per cent of the overall population, said Ghassan Khatib, vice-president of Birzeit University near Ramallah and a former Palestinian cabinet minister. Young Palestinians see little hope of an independent state more than two decades after the Oslo accords — and many do not feel president Mahmoud Abbas represents their concerns. They have come of age as Israeli settlement building has continued and with their own political leadership deeply fractured. In a recent poll, two-thirds of Palestinians said they believed a new armed intifada would serve “national interests” better than negotiations. Security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has at the same time been maintained, an arrangement some analysts say is vital for Abbas to keep hardliners who oppose him in check. Palestinian elections have not been held in a decade due to the bitter split between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Abbas’s Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank. Abbas’s mandate expired in 2009 but he remains in office because there have been no polls. The Palestinian parliament last met in 2007, following a general election the previous year won by Hamas. “The leaders are incapable of satisfying their (young Palestinians’) political and economic demands,” said Khatib.

Abbas denies concern of PA collapse

Gulf Times, Qatar reports: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dismissed yesterday weeks of rumours that the Palestinian Authority could collapse, saying he would “never give up” on it.
Abbas, 80, was speaking publicly for the first time since rumours surfaced last week that he was in poor health, which the PA has categorically denied. He did not discuss the matter and appeared well. He also spoke as three months of violent attacks by frustrated Palestinian youths on Israeli targets have made the PA and its leadership appear increasingly out of touch. The PA, the governing authority set up under the 1993 Oslo peace accords with Israel, has faced funding shortages, and its ongoing security co-operation with the Jewish state has been heavily criticised. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing a contingency plan in the event of the PA’s collapse, according Israeli media reports. “I have heard a lot of talk in the past few days about the Authority, the destruction of the Authority, the collapse of the Authority,” Abbas said. “The Authority is an achievement of ours that we will never give up.” “Don’t dream of its collapsing, don’t even dream,” he told a press conference during a lunch during a lunch to mark Christmas, which some Orthodox churches celebrate today.

Egyptian ambassador returns to Israel after 3-year hiatus

Arab News, Saudi Arabia reports: Israel says Egypt has sent a new ambassador after a three-year hiatus. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the ambassador, Hazem Hairat, arrived on Friday. Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace accord in 1979, but relations have often been cool. Egypt withdrew its ambassador in November 2012 to protest an Israeli offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. At the time, Egypt was led by Islamist President Muhammad Mursi. Since Mursi was ousted by the military in 2013, relations have steadily improved. In September, Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo, four years after it was ransacked by a crowd protesting the deaths of five Egyptian policemen killed unintentionally by Israeli forces chasing a group of Gaza militants.

Turkey diversifies allies with first Mideast military base in Qatar

Al-Arabiya , UAE reports: In view of rising regional threats, Turkey seems to be diversifying its potential allies, especially on the military and energy fronts. According to a decision announced Wednesday by Turkey’s ambassador to Qatar, Ankara will have its first Middle East military base in Qatar, with 3,000 troops to be stationed in the country. The base will be supported by air and naval units, special forces and military trainers. Joint training exercises will be held at the base, and Qatar will be able to set up its own base in Turkey. Qatar is home to the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East, where about 10,000 military personnel are placed. Currently, 100 Turkish troops are providing the Qatari army with military training. This move is in line with a bilateral defense agreement – signed in 2014 and ratified by the Turkish parliament in June – with the aim of confronting “common enemies.”… The regional policies of the two countries coincide with their support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, while they also support efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They oppose Iran’s growing regional influence, and Russia’s intervention in Syria.

Hezbollah proxy ties with Iran divulged

Bahrain News Agency reports: Lebanese parliamentary Future Bloc today deplored the recent statements by a number of Hezbollah officials, considering the remarks as flagrant unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It said that these statements clearly revealed the relationship of Hezbollah with Iran and Iranian regional policies based on domination and interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries.
This came in a statement after the bloc’s weekly meeting on Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Turkey needs Israel: Erdogan

Egypt Independent reports: Turkey must accept that it needs Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday, as the two countries seek to thrash out a deal on normalizing ties. NATO member Turkey was a key regional ally of Israel until the two countries fell out over the deadly storming by Israeli commandos in 2010 of a Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, bound for Gaza. Erdogan further raised hackles in Israel with his sometimes inflammatory rhetoric towards the Jewish State. But the atmosphere was transformed following the revelation last month the two sides were making progress in secret talks to seek a rapprochement. “Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region,” Erdogan said in remarks to Turkish reporters published in leading dailies Saturday. “And we too must accept that we need Israel. This is a reality in the region,” said Erdogan. “If mutual steps are implemented based on sincerity, then normalization will follow.”

Syrian Dissident: Execution of Saudi Cleric Plotted in Tel Aviv

Fars News Agency, Iran reports: A prominent Syrian dissident leader says Israel has persuaded the Riyadh government to kill prominent Saudi Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. “It is clear that the Saudis had taken order from their masters in Tel Aviv and the US to commit the crime of executing Sheikh Nimr; therefore, it is not surprising to say that the decision to execute Sheikh Nimr was taken in Tel Aviv and confirmed in Washington,” Secretary-General of al-Talia opposition party Noufal Noufal told FNA on Wednesday. He said that the al-Saud has always been a tool in the US hands to implement its plots in the region. Noting that the al-Saud and ISIL are two sides of the same coin which seek to foment sectarian strife in the region, Noufal said, “Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr to provoke Iran into sectarian tensions in the region but Iran sees no place for sectarian conflicts in its equations and assumes it to be an undignified move.”

747 children killed, 724 recruited in Yemen conflict, UN

Yemen Post reports: Some 747 children have been killed, 1.108 others injured and another 179 kidnapped since the conflict escalated in late March following the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, UNICEF said on Thursday.  Moreover, 724 children have been recruited by parties to the conflict in 2015, it said, pointing out that around 60 schools and 60 hospitals have been attacked, it said. In previous statement, lit revealed that ongoing bombing and increased ground fighting has forced 2 million children to stop going to school and 6 million children at risk of deadly diseases like diarrhea, measles and Polio. There is 1.3 million children at risk of pneumonia and 1.8 at risk of suffering from acute malnutrition, it added. Moreover, half of the internally displaced people, around 2.5 million, are below the age of 18, it said, pointing out that 10 million of the total of 21 million requiring humanitarian aid are children.  

And finally from the Arab News, Saudi Arabia.

Matrimonial 1: 

Indian Sunni Muslim parents invites alliance for their (Saudi born) son, 30 yrs, 5’11”, B.Tech, M.S.(USA), working in US(Green card); From religious minded fair , beautiful girl, age 22-27 yrs, height 5’3” and above, and professionally educated. Only seriously interested call at: 0565…

Matrimonial 2:

SM Urdu speaking parents from West Bengal presently residing at Jeddah invite alliance for their daughter, 26 yrs., 5’3”, beautiful, religious, brought up in KSA presently pursuing B.Sc (Psychology) from IOU. Groom should be smart, well settled and professionally qualified. Interested Indian parents please call at: 0501…

Matrimonial 3:

Sunni Muslim parents from HYD origin, Canadian Citizen, invite alliance for their son, 29 yrs., 5’10”, Diplomas in Avionics/Aircraft Maintenance, working at Toronto Pearson Intl. Airport in Canada as ramp agent. Girl to be above 24 yrs, 5’4”, fair. Kindly contact us at: hyd

(Photo credit: Freedom Messenger) 

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

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Turkey and its President: Floundering in a Sea of Narcissism

Editorial Opinion

“It’s not unlike knowing a self-serving and disingenuous friend.”

There’s a Turkish proverb: Bir kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir. A cup of coffee commits one to forty years of friendship. Trouble is, these days Turkey has very few friends who would consider sharing the same table with them, let alone drink from the same cup.

The recent arrest of at least 24 people in police raids on a leading newspaper and TV station, including Ekrem Dumanlı, editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper, the largest circulation newspaper in Turkey, and Hidayet Karaca, head of the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, as well as three police chiefs on suspicion of being members or leading members of an armed organization, hasn’t particularly helped. Many of Turkey’s former friends are avoiding Turkey and its president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan like the plague. It’s not unlike knowing a self-serving and disingenuous friend who is infected with a serious bout of narcissism. It is therefore perhaps only time before the country’s frustrated military once again openly show their muscle against the government. Neither Erdoğan, nor the country’s citizens, for very different reasons, want this to happen.

Turkish Canadians, at Queen's Park,   Legislative Assembly of Ontario to protest the breach of press freedom and rule of law in Turkey. (photo credit: jewishinfoNe.ws)

Turkish Canadians at Queen’s Park, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada, demonstrate to protest the breach of press freedom and rule of law in Turkey. (photo credit: jewishinfoNe.ws)

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum. In a recent article, which is published below, he succinctly puts it this way. “Turkey is too big, too Islamist and too un-European for the EU; it is too little Islamist and a disliked former colonial power for most of the Arab street; a sectarian and regional rival for Iran, and a security threat to the bigwigs in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.” Here in its entirety is what he had to say.

The following article by Burak Bekdil was originally published by Gatestone Institute

Theoretically, Turkey is a NATO ally. In reality, it is a part-time NATO ally. It became the first member state that had military exercises with the Syrian army and the Chinese Air Force; awarded a NATO-sensitive air defense contract to a Chinese company; supported jihadists in Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood elsewhere in the Middle East; allied with what NATO nations view as a terrorist organization (Hamas); shared, until recently, an embarrassing list of potentially terrorist-sponsoring countries with seven others including Syria and Pakistan, and sported a population with the lowest support for the NATO alliance.

Also, theoretically, Turkey is a member candidate of the European Union [EU]. In reality, since 1974, Turkey has been occupying one-third of the territory of an EU member state, Cyprus; it boasts a record number of violations of human rights, according to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights; it remains the EU’s dreaded problem in most areas of fundamental policy; it habitually (and undiplomatically) ignores EU calls for broader freedoms; and it is gripped by a deep distrust of the EU. A most recent survey, “Public Opinion in The European Union – November 2014,” conducted by the European Commission’s Eurobarometer, revealed that only 18% of Turks trust the EU.

Just recently, Russia’s prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, recalled a joke by his predecessor Viktor Chernomyrdin [prime minister between 1992 and 1998] who once was asked by a journalist when Ukraine could join the EU. “After Turkey,” Chernomyrdin replied. When should we expect Turkey to become a member, asked the journalist. “Never,” he said.

During most of the 2000s, Turkey’s soul searching, coupled with its leaders’ apparent quest for the revival of pan-Islamist and neo-Ottoman ideas, pushed the country into the illusion of a “Middle East Union” to be led, of course, by Turkey. Instead, Turkey in the post-Arab Spring years has found itself as the target of enmity in the Middle East. Many overt and covert hostilities and tensions created diplomatic crises with all countries in the former Ottoman lands — except one: the tiny hydrocarbon-rich emirate, Qatar (along with Hamas).

Theoretically, Turkey is the regional empire in the Muslim Middle East. In reality, it is an unwanted ally.

So, the soul searching continues. In January 2013, President [then prime minister] Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly toyed with the idea of Turkey seeking its future in another alliance: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO]. Since then, he has mentioned this desire a couple of times. In November 2013, Erdogan once again demanded a seat for Turkey at the SCO from Russian President Vladimir Putin, as this would “save Ankara from the troubles of the EU accession process.”

“Allow us into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and save us from this trouble,” Erdogan asked Putin.

A few years earlier, Turkey had behaved like the “bizarre ally” it was: it became the first NATO member state to become a “dialogue partner” with the SCO. But is there a future for Turkey in the SCO, sometimes call the “eastern NATO plus EU?”

Theoretically, yes. Turkey, with its democratic culture and Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule, looks like a perfect fit for the group. Its members already include Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (the SCO’s other dialogue partners are Belarus and Sri Lanka. Countries with an observer status are Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia).

But actually, Turkey is probably no more wanted in the SCO than in the EU or among Arab nations in the Middle East. The SCO’s heavyweights are Russia and China, both of which support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Erdogan’s one-time best regional ally and presently his regional nemesis. During Putin’s high-profile visit to Ankara at the beginning of December, Erdogan had to admit that Turkey and Russia “keep on falling apart” on the issue of Syria.

For Russia, Turkey means $$$$$: Tens of billions of dollars in bilateral trade — a perfect client for Russian natural gas, as well as a potential transit route to export gas to third countries. But it also means a hostile country ruled by Islamists who seek Sunni supremacy using jihadists, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood to expand its regional clout in the Middle East, often against Russian interests.

For China, too, Turkey is a good client. Unlike Russia, Chinese companies actively win infrastructure, telecommunications and mining contracts in Turkey. But like Russia, China, too, deeply distrusts Turkey politically. China’s most pressing domestic security issue, the ethnically Turkic Uighur Muslim separatists in the western province of Xinjiang, has a Turkish connection. Chinese authorities often accuse Turkey of harboring Uighur terrorists and allowing jihadist Uighurs a safe passage between Syria and China.

With its neo-imperial ambitions and Sunni Islamist policy calculus, Turkey once again fails to fit any alliance’s broad foreign policy and security structure. The soul searching will have to go on.

Turkey is too big, too Islamist and too un-European for the EU; it is too little Islamist and a disliked former colonial power for most of the Arab Street; a sectarian and regional rival for Iran, and a security threat to the bigwigs in the SCO.

Erdoğan has been credited as once saying: “Paramount is the need to secure human rights. The form of rule should be such that the citizen does not have to fear the State, but gives it direction and confidently participates in its administration.” Obviously, such a statement does not include many of Turkey’s respected media and communications elite. 

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER - "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" | "The more things change, the more they stay the same"

SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

“Not all Muslims become involved in acts of violence. Yet all might be held culpable. This is because that section of Muslim–in fact, the majority–who are not personally involved, neither disown those members of their community who are engaged in violence, nor even condemn them. In such a case, according to the Islamic Shariah itself, if the involved Muslims are directly responsible, the uninvolved Muslims are also indirectly responsible.”            -Islamic spiritual scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

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“Obama Lacks the Credibility to Sell Used Cars, Much Less Lead an ‘Anti-Terror’ Coalition”

COMMENT

“Barack Obama has spent the last six years throwing America’s allies under the bus and weaseling out of “red lines”. It is no surprise that governments in the Middle East are reluctant to join an “anti-terror” coalition lead by a man they wouldn’t buy a used car from.”

by Aboud Dandachi

Aboud DandachiBarack Obama is a man who desperately wishes that foreign-policy wasn’t part of the job description that comes with being President of the United States. After six years of trying to “pivot” away from the Middle East, Obama is discovering that just because one doesn’t have an interest in the Middle East, is no immunity from the Middle East biting one in the ass.

With the terror group ISIS rampaging over much of the Levant and executing Western hostages, Obama has found himself forced to commit America to going to war again in the region. A broad regional coalition of (mainly) Sunni states is, according to Obama’s thinking, an essential ingredient to legitimizing America’s latest military foray in a region Obama would dearly love to be rid of.

Alas, Obama’s efforts at coalition-building have so far proven a dismal failure, with no country yet willing to openly commit to joining the USA in any military action against ISIS. But the reluctance of Middle Eastern governments to join an “anti-ISIS” coalition is not due to any imagined sympathies towards the group.

Simply put, countries in the region are understandably reluctant to commit themselves to a man who has himself not kept a single commitment to any of America’s allies. From Ukraine, to Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf, America’s friends and opponents have noted what little value the Obama administration’s “commitments” are actually worth.

After six years of weaselling out of “red lines”, throwing Lebanese and Ukrainian allies under the bus, treating Turkey and Israel with open disdain, and going behind the Gulf’s back to sign an appeasement with the Iranian Ayatollocracy, the scale of which outdid even Chamberlain’s Munich agreement with Adolph Hitler, Obama comes as a supplicant to the Middle East; a supplicant with not even the credibility of a used-car salesman.

Join an Obama-led “anti-terror” coalition? Speaking as a Syrian refugee, I tend to regard Barack Obama as one would regard a neighbor who never lent much more than a glass of water while my house burned, but now expects me to join his vigilante neighborhood gang because someone broke his windows.

Six years into his administration, Obama is learning that there is a price to be paid for screwing over America’s allies and breaking commitments. And it doesn’t help matters when Obama confides to the American press that he foresees the ISIS problem as being one “for the next president, and probably the one after that.”

The “next president”. Obama may very well prefer to coast through the rest of his presidency, and eventually enjoy the post-presidential bounties of big fat speaking fees and appearances. But those of us who actually live in the region aren’t so lucky, and Obama is going to have to display an unprecedented level of commitment if he wants his “anti-ISIS” coalition to amount to more than himself and some Iranian Shia proxy militias, most of whom have proven to be as bad as ISIS.

No American boots on the ground? That may sound good politically, but it’s a policy that flies in the face of any serious military strategy that has a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating ISIS.

ISIS will not be defeated by airstrikes alone, someone’s boots are going to have to go toe to toe with the Jihadis. What kind of an imbecile telegraphs their own pain-thresholds to an adversary well before a battle. All it does is raise doubts about one’s resolve in the minds of both one’s opponents, and potential allies (good luck Obama, on getting any Turkish or Arab “boots on the ground” after displaying your reluctance to put your “boots” where your mouth is).

Obama’s dismal failure in putting together a reliable “anti-terror” coalition stands in marked contrast to the success of George Bush Senior, who prior to Desert Storm managed to create an impressive regional and international alliance to expel Saddam from Kuwait. In 1990, America’s allies knew what they were signing up for when they got behind a US-led coalition.

Obama is no George Bush Senior. In 1990, Bush managed to build an impressive regional and international coalition against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Before a single bullet was fired in Desert Storm, Saddam was completely isolated politically. While the military contributions of many countries in Desert Storm would eventually prove peripheral, the political legitimacy they afforded to the campaign was invaluable.

So why did George Bush Senior succeed where Barack Obama has so far failed? By any measure, Obama’s task should have proven the easier of the two. While Saddam initially had some international support, ISIS has none. The Iraqi military at the time was the world’s largest, a far tougher nut to crack than ISIS could ever dream of becoming.

No, in the end, the success or failure of coalition building depends as much on the attributes and perceived reliability of those who would lead such a coalition, as it does on the potential target or goals of said coalition. In 1990, America’s resolve, objectives and commitment were unquestioned. American boots were the first to go into battle. America’s allies knew what they were signing up for when they got behind the USA. America’s allies trusted America’s president.

A stark contrast to the fuzzy, muddled approach of America’s current president. It is difficult to have confidence in a man whose own self-confidence is so lacking, his best hope of fixing the greatest threat of this decade is to leave it to be solved by “the next president, and probably the one after that.”

The above article originally appeared on Mr. Dandachi’s website.

Aboud Dandachi is an activist from the Syrian city of Homs, currently residing in Istanbul. He has been cited on issues relating to the Syrian conflict in the BBC, NPR, LA Times, the Guardian, Al-Arabiya and Turkiye Gazetesi. Aboud’s articles have been republished on numerous media outlets including Daily Sabah, Elder of Ziyon, EA Worldview, Frontpage Mag, and jewishinfoNews.  Aboud can be followed on Twitter @AboudDandachi

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama visits Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, Sept. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER - "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" | "The more things change, the more they stay the same"

SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

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