A less arrogant Israel

Israel is trying to contain Turkish and Egyptian anger, an Arabic-language commentator notes. Other topics in our digest today: Turkey's rise irks both Israel and Iran, scheming in Egypt, and security in Yemen.

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Turkey and Egypt slim down Israel's ego

Israel has been dealt two serious blows in the space of a couple of weeks, the first from Turkey, the second from Egypt. And Tel Aviv's reaction did not live up to its trademark arrogance, wrote Khaled Al Hroub, a Cambridge University lecturer, in the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

The Turkish government expelled the Israeli ambassador from Ankara, recalled its own from Israel and froze all military collaboration with the country that was until recently a close ally.

The Turkish moves came as a response to Israel's refusal to apologise for killing nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship last year.

Then, a crowd of Egyptians stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo last weekend in a show of anger at Israel's refusal to apologise for shooting Egyptian soldiers on the Sinai border.

"After both instances, Israeli officials stated that they do not want 'any escalation' and are trying to contain Turkish and Egyptian anger," the writer said.

Never mind the hotheaded statements by Israel's hard-line foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. What Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, had to say was more telling about Israel's serious concern regarding the changes in its neighbourhood since the fall of its "strategic treasure" - the Mubarak regime, the writer went on.

Indeed, the image of an invincible, never-compromising Israel is starting to crack.

Attempts to 'burn' Egypt are in the works

"The Egyptian government was right in saying that Egypt is facing a serious ordeal that threatens the state's very foundations," wrote Tariq Al Homayed, the editor of the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

"It would be wrong to take the storming of the Israeli embassy out of the context of other operations that point to insidious attempts to set Egypt on fire," he added.

The storming of the embassy last weekend is the second such attempt to drag Egypt into an "uncalculated" war with Israel, after an incident followed the killing of Egyptian soldiers by Israeli ones on the Sinai border last month.

"Some organised work seems to be under way to make the situation in Egypt explode over Israel, and particularly over the Egypt-Israel peace treaty," the editor went on.

The disturbing part is that Egypt's political and intellectual class seems to be oblivious to the gravity of the situation. Their reactions have so far been tame.

"What Egyptians tend to overlook is that the storming of the embassy, after the Egyptian revolution, is reminiscent of the storming of the US embassy in Tehran after the Iranian revolution," the editor observed.

Is confrontation with Israel really the panacea to Egypt's internal problems?

Not likely, the writer concluded.

Turkey's rise irritates Israel - and Iran, too

How deep into the Middle East will the thunderous Turkish diplomatic invasion go, columnist Rajeh el Khouri asked in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

It is a valid question after Ankara's recent face-off with Israel and its strong reprimand of the Syrian regime's oppressive ways.

The Turkish involvement in Middle Eastern issues is becoming deeply annoying for some.

Clearly Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, has chosen the Palestinian issue as a gateway to building regional supremacy. His announcement that the Turkish navy will escort future aid ships sailing to Gaza could mean marine confrontation with Israel.

On another occasion, Mr Erdogan spoke of Turkish measures to ensure the equitable distribution of Mediterranean oil and gas resources. That causes serious concern, not only in Israel, but also in the US, which has been intensifying efforts to mend the broken Israeli-Turkish alliance.

There's talk in Ankara about more of the measures against Israel that started in Davos.

At around this time every year, Ankara and Tel Aviv used to join forces in marine manoeuvres, but not this year, to the great jubilation of Arabs.

"But no one is more concerned over rising Turkish might than Iran," said the writer. "Tehran feels that Ankara is penetrating its power haven on the shores of the Mediterranean."

Indeed Turkey does seem to be stealing the limelight from Iran.

Security tops the list of Yemen's problems

Yemeni government troops have recaptured Zinjibar from militants who had controlled the southern city for months, but throughout Yemen, calls for help are sounding ever-louder, the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan noted in its editorial.

Any more structural imbalances in Yemen would breed additional security issues and further reduce stability. The state has yet to impose control over many of the tribal regions.

"Yemen suffers from stark poverty in the absence of infrastructure and under an overriding illiteracy. This has created a safe haven for wanted Al Qaeda elements, and a good host environment for smuggling and drug trafficking, which in turn finance Al Qaeda's terrorist activities in Yemen."

Despite growing popular discontent, Al Qaeda is still strong in Yemen, especially among the tribes that have been the most affected by the war against the organisation.

It is a situation that creates a window of opportunity for terrorism to fasten its grip on the country.

This poses serious challenges to the Yemeni authorities, who are urgently called to review their antiterrorism polices in a way that best serves the people and guarantees security and order.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk