Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 05/24/2011 Part II

Read Mideast Media Sampler 05/24/2011 Part I

From an email from DG:
4) The Arab Spring
President Obama introduced his speech at the State Department last week with these thoughts:

The State Department is a fitting venue to mark a new chapter in American diplomacy.  For six months, we have witnessed an extraordinary change taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.  Square by square, town by town, country by country, the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights.  Two leaders have stepped aside.  More may follow.  And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security, by history and by faith.Today, I want to talk about this change -- the forces that are driving it and how we can respond in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security.
Let's take a look at a (not entirely) random sampling of recent headlines.

SYRIA: Young boy's fury spells trouble for Bashar Assad's regime... - Babylon and Beyond (LA Times)
Seeking to Disrupt Protesters, Syria Cracks Down on Social Media...- The New York Times
SAUDI ARABIA: Security forces clamp down on those allegedly behind campaign to defy ban on women drivers - Babylon and Beyond (LA Times)
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas defends unity agreement with Hamas against US criticism - Washington Post (AP)
Palestinians have problems with Obama’s Mideast speech, too _ especially over ‘Jewish state’ - Washington Post (AP)
Yemeni Leader’s Allies Blockade Embassy as He Refuses Peace Deal - New York Times
Bahrain security court upholds death sentences of 2 convicted of police killing during protest - Washington Post (AP)
IRAN: Intelligence Ministry claims to arrest 30 alleged CIA spies - Babylon and Beyond (LA Times)
TUNISIA: High death toll challenges claims of smooth transition - Babylon and Beyond (LA Times)
Iraq, Iran Sign Power Deal - Wall Street Journal

European Union Puts Sanctions on Syrian Leader ... - The New York Times
NATO hits Libyan capital with most intense bombardment, US says rebels can open DC office - Washington Post (AP)

EGYPT: Death sentence for police officer who killed protesters - Babylon and Beyond (LA Times)

I am not saying that this is an exhaustive list of notable stories about the Middle East from the past few days. The first group - the largest - show that the new Middle East isn't really all that different from the old Middle East. Despite the protests, some entrenched governments are holding onto power and even increasing their power. Related themes in this group the waning of American influence and the growing Iranian influence in the region.

The second group of two stories shows possible progress being made due to Western intervention. Only the single story in the third group, in any way demonstrates an increase in freedom in that officials of the previous government are being held accountable. (The policeman in question is missing; so I don't know if perhaps he's being scapegoated.)

So despite President Obama's uplifting rhetoric about people rising up, there's plenty of evidence (despite the resignations of Mubarak and Ben Ali) that there is precious little change effected in recent months. This is a point made in a recent New York Times article, Promise of Arab Uprisings Is Threatened by Divisions which observes:

But even activists admit that the region so far has no model that enshrines diversity and tolerance without breaking down along more divisive identities. 
Take the lack of change in the Middle East and the enduring hostility to Israel as evidenced by a number of recent stories:
Jordan Launches Campaign: 'No Zionist Enemy Products'   - Israel National News via Israel Matzav
Beirut photo exhibit closed over work of Israeli artist
 - The Jerusalem Post
Israeli play canceled as Israel-Turkey ties slide - AP

and it isn't clear why this is an opportune time for Israel to attempt to make peace.

5) Time for Richard Cohen to stop writing silly columns

Since his ahistorical column about Israel being a mistake a few years ago, Washington Post columnist has generally been better regarding Israel. Still his work is a mixed bag, sometimes good; sometimes bad. Today's column Time for Netanyahu to ditch his do-nothing policy qualifies as bad. I won't waste your time and focus on a single paragraph:

The trouble with Netanyahu is that, for him, “now” is not now. A moderate and pragmatic Palestinian leadership has actually emerged in the West Bank (but not, for sure, in Gaza), terrorism has been denounced, rejected and, in the West Bank, all but disappeared. A Palestinian state in some sort of pupa form is taking shape, even able to police itself. The trumpeted unification of Fatah and Hamas is indeed a problem — the latter being a virulently anti-Semitic terrorist organization — but even here, where there’s a will there’s a way. 
The internal contradiction here between the "moderate and pragmatic" leadership and the "unification of Fatah and Hamas" is undeniable. But it isn't a problem to be finessed. The unficiation contradicts the "moderate and pragmatic" description.

Is calling Israel "incidental to history" a sign of moderation and pragmatism?
Is rewarding terrorists?
But Fatah was quick to call Netanyahu's terms for peace "a declaration of war."

The point is that on the Palestinian side there is no will. And in the near future matters stand to get even worse
Read Mideast Media Sampler 05/24/2011 Part I

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1 comment:

NormanF said...

The Palestinians have no interest in making peace with Israel.

All they have to do is sit back and watch the world tighten the screws on Israel.

If any one is going to "Cry Uncle," rest assured it won't be the new PA/HAMAS regime.