Obama's new war on terrorism

"We were not wrong in our interpretation of the shift in the discourse of President Barack Obama's administration towards violence or so-called Islamic terrorism," wrote Yaser al Zaatra in the Jordanian newspaper Al Dustoor.

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"We were not wrong in our interpretation of the shift in the discourse of President Barack Obama's administration towards violence or so-called Islamic terrorism," wrote Yaser al Zaatra in the Jordanian newspaper Al Dustoor. This shift of attitude found its expression in the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's latest statements to CNN, saying Islamic terrorist networks pose the greatest threat to the American national security. She revealed that even such states as North Korea and Iran do not represent a menace to the US as does al Qa'eda and groups tied to it.

Mr Obama promised to drop the use of Islamic terrorism from US political discourse in the context of reconciliation with the Islamic world, but right-wing circles and Israeli lobbies obstructed that process. Mr Obama is back to reproducing the same old arguments to justify arbitrary military involvement to his own people and to the world. It is possible to argue that the Israelis, backed by their supporters in top US political venues, continue influencing US foreign policies related to the Muslim world. It is true that American interests are under threat by armed Islamist movements, but this is instigated mainly by the US military presence in many places across the Muslim world. Had they withdrawn, neither the Taliban nor the Iraqi resistance would have tried to retaliate.

"The US-Egyptian Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail was upfront when he addressed an audience in the Egyptian Opera House recently; he described the precarious state of prevailing moral values of the Arab world," wrote Mushari al Thaidy in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat.

Mr Zewail criticised the media for failing to highlight the importance of scientific research and culture, and for being too much focused on politics. Politics, he said, is essential in state life, but in the Arab world it is omnipresent in all spheres of life. The situation is a kind of "political immersion" where an unhealthy overlap between science, religion, politics and even football occurs. Underneath the current state of moral chaos is ignorance. "It is the haven of intolerance, extremism and trivialities. It is the repellence of fine arts, which remain the preserve of a small elite. In sum, it popularises the unpopular, and makes it the norm. How then can we correct this situation?" This is possible through initiatives that promote culture, education, art and, more importantly, ones that nurture and strengthen a humanist sense instead of narrow-minded sectarianism. It is a process that may take time, but is likely to strike a balance between literacy and ignorance, which ultimately would establish a new awareness.

Subhi Zuaytar, in a comment piece for the Saudi newspaper Al Watan, denigrated a recent report issued by the World Bank on the inhumane nature of the Israeli occupation.

"The starvation policy adopted by the Israeli occupation does not stand in the way of the Palestinian people in Gaza, who have contrived ways to survive. Because need is the mother of invention, besieged Palestinians dug tunnels for supplies of food, fuel, medicine and even weapons." The report pictured a plight of hunger and misery, but it failed, however, to point to the responsibility borne by Israel in oppressing Palestinians and denying their basic civil right to establish their own independent state. It also described the practices of the occupation in terms of their psychological, social and economic implications.

The report underscored how the position of family men was diminished by the economic hardship caused by Israel. In this portrait of "the fallen male" seen in terms of massive unemployment, there is an implicit indication that the occupier rightly punishes men, who are the backbone of the resistance. The report should rather boldly say that the land where Palestinians make their living is legitimately theirs.

"I say salvation has started just now," the Sudanese president Omar Bashir said at the launch of his presidential election campaign a few days ago, but "salvation" was the old credo that was flaunted to justify the coup that Mr Bashir conducted back in 1989, commented Abdul Wahab Badrakhan, a London-based political analyst, in the UAE newspaper Al Ittihad.

"This means that he has been practising this salvation for 21 years but now he informs his public that he is about to start. To make sense of this, perhaps we should bear in mind that the presidential elections due to be held in April are the first in Sudan in nearly a quarter of a century." The interesting part, still, is that the propaganda of the ruling party in Sudan has managed to convince the public that the results of the elections are preordained. All government institutions have been put at the disposal of a single candidate, Mr Bashir, disregarding the other 12 candidates expected to be running against him.

"So what does this mean to the people of Darfur, the southerners and, by extension, the northerners? Well, it means the actual 'beginning of salvation', as they knew it in 1989." * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae