Mohammad Al-Kassim writes about what’s in the Middle Eastern media this week.
The topic on Al Jazeera Arabic’s controversial yet highly popular talk show “Opposite Direction” this week was the Obama presidency, one year later.
The host questioned the sincerity of President Obama’s outreach to Arabs and Muslims. Faisal al-Qasem, the Syrian host of al-Itijah al-Mo’akis, likened President Obama to a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Al-Qasem accused Obama of speaking from both sides of his mouth and alleged that the Arabs’ problem was believing Obama’s sugar-coated words:
Al Arabiya news channel reported on the upcoming African Cup football match between Egypt and Algeria. Egypt beat Cameroon 3-1 to set up a repeat of the intense World Cup playoff against Algeria.
The last time these two teams faced each other was in Khartoum, Sudan, which was followed with violence and enormous tension across the Arab world.
Today’s lead headline in Israeli center-left newspaper Haaretz was about Israeli president Shimon Peres’ speech to the German parliament. Speaking on the anniversary of the Auschwitz death camp’s liberation, Peres called for the surviving perpetrators of the Holocaust to be brought to justice.
Abdel al-Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, published in London, wrote an op-ed yesterday on the stalled Middle East peace process — in light of U.S. envoy George Mitchell’s recent visit to the region.
Atwan, who was born in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, is an outspoken critic of many Arab governments. He attributes Mitchell’s lack of progress to:
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to retain Jewish settlements in the West Bank and keep complete control of those areas.
- The refusal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table again without an Israeli commitment to a freeze on settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
- U.S. President Barack Obama giving in to Israeli pressure on the settlements.
Atwan argues that another intifada is likely because of the stalemate in the peace process. He also thinks Fatah and Hamas may be forced to reconcile if progress is not made.
– Mohammad Al-Kassim