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Monday, July 17, 2006

Review of the Arab press

AMMAN, Jordan, July 17 (UPI) -- Arab press roundup for July 17:

Arab newspapers splashed their front pages Monday with pictures, headlines, news and commentaries on the Israeli-Lebanese military confrontations, criticizing Israel, the Arabs and international community for allowing Lebanon to fall prey to Israel's war machine and political agenda. Lebanon's an-Nahar said in a commentary it appears Israel is trying to make its war on Lebanon its final one, adding that it is seeking calm on its borders with Lebanon and the Palestinians after it secured calm on its frontiers with Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The anti-Syrian daily suggested the Shiite Hezbollah organization did not seem to have expected such a massive Israeli response to its capture of two Israeli soldiers. But, it added, Israel took the kidnapping of the soldiers as an opportunity to achieve three objectives: To free the Israeli soldiers, to disarm Hezbollah and stop its rocket attacks against Israel. "Lebanon does not see it is in its interest for the south to remain indefinitely submissive to the actions, reactions and instability, and to always pay a heavy price for every war, without a deep-rooted solution," it stressed. The mass-circulation daily insisted the only way to end Israel's wars in the region is for all parties to sit on the negotiating table to discuss achieving comprehensive peace in the region.

Another Lebanese daily, al-Balad, commented the Israeli military offensive in Lebanon was no longer a question of prisoners or the issue of the Shebaa Farms, a small piece of land occupied by Israel. The paper, which describes itself as independent, said the battle was now being carried out to achieve Israeli and international objectives, supported by the Arab regimes. It said the world powers are now looking at the Middle East as "being in one basket," and where the West is seeing Hezbollah and Hamas as the "obstacles to the peace process." In other words, it added, this means Hezbollah's cross-border operation has opened the door wide for a comprehensive international reassessment of the whole region "and we don't know if this reassessment deserves the huge price Lebanon is paying from Israel's continuous aggression." The paper insisted that if the international community is looking for comprehensive solutions to end the Lebanese-Israeli conflict, there are a series of simple steps that need to be taken, "starting with the retrieval of the Shebaa Farms to the release of Lebanese prisoners and stopping Israel's air and sea violations." If efforts are made to solve these problems, it said, it would spare all the blood and destruction to allow the Lebanese to conclude their dialogue over the weapons of the resistance. "But the point the conflict has reached," it argued, "has now exceeded all that could have been discussed calmly. The ongoing battle is open to larger possibilities, and the Lebanese are always paying the painful price."

The London-based al-Hayat complained this is the first time Israel has launched a war with total support and encouragement from the international community. The Saudi-financed daily said in a commentary the G8 leaders meeting in Russia have not even been moved by the "enormous humanitarian disaster forced on the Lebanese people," while the U.N. Security Council has failed to call for a cease-fire. This means the international community agrees with the Israeli destruction of Lebanon and has adopted the Israeli position, it said. The paper, distributed in most Arab capitals, said there is no hope in the Security Council, which it said had "lost all sense of humanity and justice," and blasted Arab governments for their weakness in taking a firm position. It said it is not clear what the situation will be like in Lebanon after a conditional or unconditional cease-fire, if there is one. The daily added if the international community was betting on the Lebanese state and government to secure a truce, it should hurry up in its efforts because deeper involvement in the war will further weaken the Beirut government and threaten its entire existence.

Another London-based daily, al-Quds al-Arabi, commented there is no argument that Israel's regional military power far exceeds any other country in the Middle East and that the United States is the biggest world empire in history, but still failed in determining the war in Iraq in its favor. The independent Palestinian-owned paper said while the American forces defeated the Iraqi army and entered Baghdad three weeks after its invasion, it failed to impose its control, rebuild the country's institutions and bring security and stability. Likewise, it added, Israel is using the same military tactics against Lebanon, warning that "air power alone cannot determine the war in its favor." It opined that Israel might succeed in destroying Hezbollah's bases, close Beirut airport, hit the bridges, and kill women and children, but it will not succeed in eliminating the Islamic resistance and weaken Hezbollah. "Hezbollah is still strong, capable of facing the challenge," it insisted, "and its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, promised new surprises and said he is leading a war that consolidates the hopes of the nation, presenting a historic opportunity to defeat Israel." The paper said Hezbollah's steadfastness for one week and the overwhelming support of the Arab and Muslim peoples will add to this hope.

Jordan's ad-Dustour said in a commentary that Lebanon alone was paying the price for Arab impotence and for achieving freedom and liberation from Israeli occupation. It added the "Zionist aggression on innocent civilians is a disaster and depressing, but, thanks to the heroic resistance, the Arab eyes are sparking with hope for a renewal of dignity and optimism." The daily, which describes itself as independent but is partially owned by the government, said while no Arab seeks a disproportionate war with Israel or threatening the entire region with a sixth Middle East war, only resistance can confront Israeli aggression. It argued that Israel will not allow the opportunity of having its soldiers captured pass without settling its score with Lebanon after its "humiliating exit from Lebanon." That's why, the mass-circulation daily stressed, Israel is now seeking to destroy the resistance and Hezbollah; to destroy the country and plunge it back 20 years; is responding to Syria and Iran through Lebanon; and seeks to break the "Arab steadfastness to ensure the total collapse of the Arab system."
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