Renewed Hormuz threat is serious

New Iranian bluster about closing the Strait of Hormuz is a warning that the situation is dangerous, an Arabic-language editorial says. Other topics: Mohammed Morsi and the international failure in Syria.

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New talk about blocking the Strait of Hormuz once again threatens to ignite the whole region

One day after the US and the European Union imposed a new round of severe sanctions on their oil exports, Iranian authorities addressed ultimatums to Gulf states and western powers, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi noted in its editorial.

The first ultimatum came in the form of an announcement by a member of the national security and foreign politics committee in the Iranian parliament: the committee has proposed a bill that urges Tehran to attempt to deny crude oil shipments passage through the Strait of Hormuz on their way to countries supporting the sanctions.

The second came in the form of military manoeuvres that simulate a counter-attack against US or Israeli targets in the region.

"These Iranian messages give the impression that the western sanctions against Iranian exports may cause a state of economic paralysis in the Islamic Republic and direct a hard blow at the Iranian authorities," said the paper.

Blocking the Hormuz strait to approximately 18 million barrels of exports from the Gulf would be equivalent to a declaration of war. Western countries with fleets, aircraft carriers and naval bases in Qatar and Bahrain will not allow such a trespass; closing the Strait could lift oil prices to $200 (Dh735) a barrel, damaging faltering economies.

Blocking the strait would not require a special law from parliament. The Iranian ultimatums at this point can be classified as psychological warfare tactics. The same applies to the military manoeuvres that revolve around attacks on US bases in the Gulf.

"However, it must be said that sanctions on Iranian exports can also be viewed as a declaration of war. Its main objective is to drive the Iranian people to the brink of starvation in the hope that they will rise up against the government.

"But this is highly unlikely; the embargo the West imposed on Iraq for 13 years did starve the people but didn't motivate them to rebel against Saddam Hussein's regime," the paper argued.

In any case, the US and its allies aren't expected to wait around for another dozen years for the embargo to yield results in Iran. Western reports confirm that Iran does indeed possess large quantities of enriched uranium, enough to build nuclear warheads within one year.

No one wants war. Nonetheless, once cornered, Iran could counter-attack the US warships in Gulf waters.

In fact, it could be argued that this is the main purpose behind the oil embargo and the severe economic sanctions. It seems as if the West is pushing Iran into firing the first shot in a war.

"The next four months before the US elections promise an escalation in mutual verbal attacks between Iran and the west, until one of the parties decides to open the gates of hell on the entire region," the paper concluded.

International bodies share blame in killings

No matter how cruelly the Syrian regime behaves, the international law fails to face the Russians and stem the bloodletting, Tayyib Tizini said in an opinion piece in the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

The Syrian regime is the first to blame for the turmoil in Syria which erupted when he rejected protesters' demands for freedom, dignity and true reform, and when he shot the first bullet in Daraa that developed into today's status quo.

Several nations, particularly Russia have tried to "promote themselves as saints who are very concerned with the Syrian bloodshed, but in reality, they are taking a role that is tantamount to a criminal act: they are supplying weaponry to be used for shedding Syrians' blood".

Homs, the city of tolerance, affection and culture, was barbarically bombarded by the regime forces, but Russia kept silent despite having witnessed itself a similar experience in Stalingrad at the hands of Nazism.

However horrible they might be, crimes kept going unpunished because of the Russians who used the veto twice against the call for punishment. This has left no room for doubt that "the international law prevails over moral conscience".

This absurd bureaucracy has become involved in the killing of children and burning women, men and homes, which can only indicate that the international bodies have become "underfoot".

Egypt's new president is reluctant to fight

Mohammed Morsi seems to follow the authority mentality which disregards civil society and offers no radical solutions, Wael Abdel Fattah wrote in yesterday's edition of the Egyptian newspaper Al Shorouk.

Egyptian civil society has called on President Morsi to put an end to military trials of civilians, and to release thousands of detainees.

But he replied that he has been told that most of the prisoners in question are thugs whose release might threaten peace.

And he announced a decision to set up a committee with no neutral people from civil society.

Mr Morsi could have been more forceful in facing the military on this matter, the writer said.

But the new president has not shown any striking differences from former Egyptian presidents.

He is trying to "appease the people with coloured balloons and feast gifts without fighting a forceful battle".

Mr Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood lack a reconstruction plan. They think that merely being in power makes the Brotherhood virtuous.

This is why they did not, for instance, seek to make a radical change in the media and end its subordination to power, the writer said.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk