Review of the Arab press

The state-run daily complained that Annan could not even condemn the « Israeli aggression, » but took a « position regrettable and embarrassing for the international body that has turned into a negative observer unconcerned with what is happening. » The language used by Annan over the issue, it argued, indicates an alarming regression by the U.N., « whose meeting halls have turned into unprecedented political squabbling. » The paper opined the « Israeli (military) madness and hysteria » cannot solve anything, complaining that when Israel tries to pull the rest of the region into its campaign, there is no international condemnation, « as if colluding with the Israeli desires. » It insisted that Annan’s warning against destroying the Palestinian infrastructure was an indication of the lame international policy, « as if the infrastructure has become more important than the lives that are being killed, besieged and starved by the Israeli tanks and planes. »

Egypt’s al-Gomhuriya said in its editorial that Israel’s assault on Gaza was not aimed at rescuing the Israeli soldier, but at « breaking the will of the Palestinian people’s resistance » against occupation. The mainstream, semi-official daily said the Israeli military campaign was an effort to push the Palestinians to accept Israeli conditions for its own solution to the conflict. The paper called for Arab and international efforts to « support the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in this battle through all means » and to push Israel to « stop its aggression » and to swap Palestinian prisoners in return of the Israeli prisoner. « To pressure the Palestinians in this American way, » it opined, « will not lead to a solution (to the crisis), but to a collapse in the Palestinian territories. However, the Palestinians don’t surrender. »

A commentary in the United Arab Emirates’ al-Khaleej said the American and Israeli dictionaries don’t know the meaning of « resistance, » but often use the word « terrorism » in order to legitimize occupation and forbid resistance. The pro-government daily argued the American and Israeli positions on the Israeli military campaign was not to destroy the terrorism infrastructure in Palestine, but to try to « renew the concept of resistance for the Palestinians. » It said U.S. support for Israel’s demands regarding the captured Israeli soldier shows the « level of American eagerness » to prevent the Palestinians from imposing their own conditions on Israel and setting a precedent, and to prevent an opportunity to allow the concept of resistance of succeed. « This is also aimed at distancing the entire cause from one of homeland and occupation seeking resistance to regain rights, and imposing another framework under the name of ‘political process,’ or ‘peace process,’ » it said. The daily added the « real ongoing battle today » in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is between imposing concepts of « resistance » and « political process, » just like the battle in Iraq is between resistance and political process. « The battle in Palestine and Iraq is one: Between freedom and occupation, » it said.

The London-based ash-Sharq al-Awsat said in a commentary that those who ask where the Arab regimes are in helping the Palestinians in their crisis should ask themselves who consulted with the Arab governments when they kidnapped an Israeli soldier. « Did the Palestinian government seek the opinion or advise of the Arab leaders about their operations for them to seek their help? » the Saudi-owned daily asked. It criticized Hamas for not taking into consideration any other views from Arab leaders, saying the repercussions of the abduction of the Israeli soldier « are exactly what the Arab government reject and exactly what the Israeli government wants to justify » in its « uneven » military campaign against the Palestinians. The paper, distributed in many Arab capitals, said that no Arab or any other country can do anything except condemn because not a single Arab country wants to be pulled into a « losing battle. » It opined that no one has the right to ask Arab governments for help when they were not consulted, accusing the Hamas government of « turning its back to Arab decisions and advice. » It said that those who pulled the Palestinians into this fierce battle are alone to be blamed and to ask themselves whether the kidnapping of the soldier was worth all the damage inflicted on the Palestinians.

Another London-based daily, al-Quds al-Arabi, commented on the substantial victory for the Islamists in Kuwait’s parliamentary elections last week, saying it was clear why they would win in poor countries where corruption reigns, but it was strange for them to win in an oil-rich country like Kuwait. The independent Palestinian-owned daily said this indicates « a highly important changing process that is sweeping the entire Arab region. » It added that several reasons may have led to the Islamists’ influence in the emirate, including the failure of the American plans in Iraq, which had invaded and occupied Kuwait for 7 months in 1990-91, the American bias towards « one sect over another » in Iraq and consolidating the Iranian role over the Arab identity in the country. Another reason, it added, is the weakness of the pro-Western liberals and their animosity towards the Islamic and pan-Arab nationalist trends, « as well as their blind support for the United States and its policies. »

It suggested the victory of the Islamists in Kuwait is worrying Washington, as it has strategic interests in the emirate, as well as other Western capitals. The daily said the Islamists were progressing in Palestinian and Iraqi elections, gaining ground in Somalia, are regrouping in Afghanistan and now winning elections in Kuwait. « It is a trend that is worth studying, especially by the United States, to find the reasons, which we believe includes the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim American foreign policy that supports Israel, » it concluded.

5/7/2006

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