Society's extremism is cause of violence

It is quite natural to ask who were those responsible for the plot that had targeted the Saudi prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy interior minister in charge of security, but it is also legitimate to inquire about methods to combat terrorism, wrote Abdul Arrahman Arrashed in Al Sharq Al Awsat.

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It is quite natural to ask who were those responsible for the plot that had targeted the Saudi prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy interior minister in charge of security, but it is also legitimate to inquire about methods to combat terrorism, wrote Abdul Arrahman Arrashed in a comment article featured in the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat. The debate on terrorism immediately brings into focus what is the most efficient method to use. One can choose between adopting a more peaceful approach aimed at absorbing extremist thought, or following more coercive methods to ensure security. "It is so important to raise this issue because terrorism is a threat to the entire society, and not exclusively to top officials. Most victims are ordinary people, and the major plots that have been foiled were aimed against the country's civil, political and military institutions."

Extremist thought has existed over the last 50 years, but only in the last 10 years has it produced such systematic violence. What happened was a marriage between "innocent"  and "politicised" extremism. The result was terrorist cells that never cease to resurrect themselves. This proves that the problem does not reside in individual terrorist fugitives, or in al Qa'eda. The problem lies rather in our streets - an incubator for extremist thought that, in turn, produces cohorts of terrorists.

"The most extreme political actors among the Palestinians and Israelis serve each others' interests. The attitudes of both parties is very rigid at a time when the international community is trying to put an end to this chronic problem," wrote Saleh al Qalab in an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida.   Israel has always exploited threats directed against it by drawing wider support by claiming its existence is at stake. "It should be known that the establishment of the state of Israel was based on sympathy to provide the vital requirements for founding a state for Jews as compensation for their sufferings during and after the Second World War."

The Israelis have done their best to provoke various Palestinians factions to react irrationally. Israel is more worried to see a moderate leader like Mahmoud Abbas than other radical figures who dominate the Palestinian political scene. "The actual conflict now between Arabs and Israelis is how to win international public opinion. It is in the interests of Arabs and Palestinians to have many more people like Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister."

Lebanon is lurching from one political impasse to the other, a situation that summarises a real crisis of government, wrote Bassam al Dhaw in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. "The prime minister-designate Saad al Hariri knew this fact early and he was not responsible for it. He was elected to lead the government as a result of a Saudi-Syrian agreement. Additionally, the US wanted to have a say about the external policy of Lebanon, and it was similarly keen to receive more details from Syria about issues relative to Iran, Iraq and Palestine."

So far, Washington and Damascus have progressed in co-operating as far as the Iraqi issue, but they have not achieved the same success in regards to Iran and Palestine. There are two reasons for this. First, the US still believes in dissociating Damascus from Tehran, a thing the Syrians would categorically reject. Second, the US would like Syria to exert its influence on Hamas to help achieve the expected peace plan of President Barack Obama. Taking all these factors into consideration, Lebanon will wait until the International Court of Justice pronounces its verdict on the assassination of the former prime minister Rafiq a Hariri before it can establish a new government

"Arabs have not learnt the lesson that no US president decides alone the policies of his country according to his own beliefs. These are in fact determined by lobbies and interest groups," opined the lead opinion article of the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

US presidents, no matter how much they understand Arab issues and wish to help them to reach just solutions, are limited in their capacity in this regard. This is the case with former presidents and also with Barack Obama. Arabs naively continue to support these presidents and believe a settlement is coming. They believed they don't need to waste time devising joint action as an alternative strategy. "US presidents come and go, and Arabs only get disappointed."

Are Arabs aware that the US administration is seeking a method to stop settlement expansion as a basis for relaunching direct negotiations which could exclude the East Jerusalem issue? President Obama expressed no objection to that and thus would give a green light to Israelis to continue their takeover of the Holy City. If he sums up the whole Palestinian cause simply in terms of freezing settlements for some months in return for normalisation of relations, then it is not worth it.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi