Arabic commentary questions Israel's ability to conduct a war

Regional newspapers question the US motives in Iraq, the future of the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline and the desperation shown in Syria's new TV station.

Israel is limited in its ability to go to war

"Immediately after the latest skirmishes between Lebanese and Israeli forces, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was swift to announce that his government is not willing to escalate the situation on the borders with Lebanon," wrote the columnist Satea Noureddine in a lead article for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

Mr Netanyahu said that he had spoken to the concerned parties and that a war was not likely, to judge by the continuing events in Syria, Israel and Lebanon.

The statements by Mr Netanyahu to quickly defuse the situation can be interpreted differently, however. He could mean that the time for war against Lebanon has not yet come, and should not be sparked by such a passing exchange of fire.

For normal people in both countries, the incident was alarming, as many thought war was approaching. This feeling was heightened by the attack that targeted a Unifil peacekeeping forces on the border.

Another interpretation gives a different perspective, explaining why Mr Netanyahu shunned war this time. Israel is facing an economic crisis, which threatens the stability of the government and limits its options.

What is more, Israel cannot depend on US assistance, as the US is busy with the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well handling its relations with Iran.

US failure in Iraq means that it should depart

Recently, a report by a US government inspection agency concluded that the frequent bombings, assassinations and cycles of violence in Iraq have made the country more dangerous than it was one year ago, noted the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial.

The expected withdrawal of US troops by year's end makes us think that the report is aimed at intimidating Iraqis and others," the editorial said. The US would like to make us believe that Iraq might slide into violence and chaos again, to justify its presence. "Violence, in fact, never ceased for eight years, even with the deployment of more than 150,000 troops."

"The question is what can the Americans do to ensure the security of Iraq? And what are the guarantees that 2012 will be better than previous years? Even more, what are the guarantees that Iraq will not become a second Afghanistan?" asked the newspaper.

In principle, the US and its allies, in Iraq and Afghanistan, were supposed to help the people and the government to assume the responsibility of maintaining security and rebuilding their countries.

The US has so far failed to achieve these goals. And this is a good reason for Americans to stop hinting at the possibility of prolonging their stay.




Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel is unpopular

The events of south Sinai don't augur well for Egypt's Supreme Military Council, observed the London-based Asharq Al Awsat daily in its editorial.

There have now been five attacks on the Tel Aviv-bound gas pipeline during the last six months.

The Military Council's bind is multidimensional. It is partly due to local reasons and partly caused by the Camp David agreement. A third factor is the Rafah passage on the borders between Egypt and Gaza.

The export of Egyptian gas to Israel at slashed prices is a source of great tension in public opinion. For this reason, the repeated attacks in the pipelines are not met with strong opposition from the majority of the Egyptian people.

"The revolution government is paying a high price for the policies of the former Mubarak regime that bowed to Israeli terms regarding the prices of gas.

"The Egyptian people are opposed to any normalisation with Israel and see this gas pipeline as a sin.

"The people want to revoke any and all agreements related to it, just as they want to shut down the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

"The revolution government is therefore required to immediately heed the people's demands."



Syrian regime's new TV channel is a farce

"What a farce," wrote Tareq Al Homayed, editor-in-chief of the daily Asharq Al Awsat, about the Syrian regime's "unprecedented reform measures as this secular Baathist regime in Damascus decided to launch a religious satellite channel, after it has closed down many mosques and turned some of them into military bases".

The regime's news agency said the new channel would broadcast Friday sermons as well as various religious programmes, with the aim of helping people achieve "a correct understanding of Islam".

"Is there anything more ridiculous?" asked the writer. "A regime shuts down prayer houses, brutally massacres its own people, then pretends it wants to rectify Islam."

The number of Syrians killed by the regime so far has exceeded the number of victims in Israel's war on Gaza, but the world still adheres to a shameful silence towards Damascus.

The UN Security Council is urgently required to take serious decisions against the Assad regime.

And Arab states and organisations are required to break their disgraceful silence towards such crimes, the wrier said.




* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk

Published: August 3, 2011 04:00 AM


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