The Israeli government has become used to various US administrations decrying West Bank settlement projects and then falling silent on the issue, and Israeli bulldozers have continued to roar into the Occupied Territories, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan. This state of affairs does not hold true anymore. Things have changed with Barack Obama, who is putting his political future at stake by calling for a freeze to settlement activity in the Palestinian territories.
The American administration is more serious than ever in opposing the Israeli settlement expansion as an obstacle to achieving any progress in the Middle East peace process, and accordingly it is impossible to ignore the inevitable clash between this administration and the Israel government that will soon happen. The two parties are evidently doing their best to avoid the clash and despite the total failure of negotiations between Mr Obama's envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, and the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barack, the talks were described as "positive and constructive". The best they could do was schedule another appointment between Mr Mitchell and Prime Minister BenjaminNetanyahu in two weeks time. But this next meeting will have to yield some decisions.
The Iranian regime has gone too far in pointing fingers at external parties and accusing them of provoking the mass protests that followed the June 12 presidential elections, wrote Arib al Rantawi in the Jordanian Arabic daily Addustour. Iranian officials even accused foreign powers of "igniting a revolution within the revolution". The regime's opponents, on the other hand, portrayed the events as a popular revolution against the theocracy and heralded an imminent return of the old, pre-Ayatollah Iran.
Both visions are too narrow and can not explain what is going on in Iran. No external party, no matter how arrogant it is, could dare to challenge the mullahs in their fiefdom. If an external actor had the power to secure 13 million votes for the reformists and incite hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets of Tehran, the regime would not have been able to live another day. The events can neither be described as a revolt by the people against the regime. It is rather a division among the people and within the regime itself. A division in which the "revolution", the "conservatives", the "guard" and the "ruling clergy" still have the upper hand.
A report released by the US Congress has raised a number of extremely serious issues in Kuwait, namely the political dispute between the government and the parliament that has been going on for years, wrote Abdulkareem al Saleh in the Kuwati daily Al Rai. Other issues examined by the report included the looming Sunni-Shiite tension and the responsibility of the current political stalemate for delaying a number of vital energy projects.
A second report, drafted under the supervision of the former British prime minister Tony Blair, warned that Kuwait's future development might be in danger from the political limbo. The content of the two reports was of course rejected on most points, mainly because they were released by foreign parties. No objective reasons were given for this state of denial, whereas Kuwaitis should have looked into what issues they brought forward, not at who issued them. According to the author, both reports were highly pertinent and based on facts commonly known to Kuwaitis. The current situation is a indeed a gloomy one, the options are limited and a lot of time has been wasted. Now is the time for conclusions, the author wrote.
The Saudi reconciliation train is running behind a locomotive that has long travelled on the Damascus-Beirut line in the past years, wrote Satei Nureddine in an opinion column published by the Lebanese Arabic daily Assafir.
The Lebanese majority is in doubt and confusion, the minority is rather satisfied and both are questioning the role of the Saudi train, which is fuelled by the kingdom's need to secure stability in Lebanon, bring Syria into its sphere of influence and separate it as far as possible from Tehran. The kingdom's allies victory in recent elections is not synonymous with a clear divorce from Damascus, but there is definitely a new start in the two neighbours' relations, the columnist wrote.
The Lebanese majority, however, is under pressure to make huge concessions, including closing the file on the assassination of the former prime minister Rafik Hariri, in response to the Saudis need to "contain" Syria whatever the price. But this price, which might seem high at first glance, would be largely compensated for by later arrangements to reframe the Lebanese-Syrian relations as a whole.
* Digest complied by Mohammed Naji email@example.com