Thursday, November 14, 2013

Arab headlines, November 7 -13, 2013

If you’re like most non-Arabs, you probably don’t read the Arab Press. That could be a mistake.

The Arab world is not monolithic. It’s dynamic. It’s a living entity. It’s home to almost 350 million people. Many of these people know about you. What do you know about them?

Every Thursday before Noon ET, return here for something you may not see elsewhere: Arab news.

Here are headlines for—and personal comments about-- Arab news stories for November 7 –13, 2013.



-Israeli plan for Jewish Negev town 'racist'

-Israel implicated in shooting death of Palestinian bystander

 -Israeli forces raid three Palestinian neighborhoods, detain one

-Jordan calls for action against Israeli renovation at Jerusalem holy site

-Palestinian right to return irrevocable — activists

--Jerusalem man forced to demolish his own house

Internal Regional Arab news

- Child drowns in Hebron well

-Hebron man injures himself in fireworks accident

-Over 1,000 Syrians entered Jordan over past 72 hours’

-Statistics put inflation rate at 6.1% (in Jordan)

-Illegal migrants in Saudi Arabia surrender after deadly riots

-Kingdom’s economy picks up steam; inflation slows

-Egypt player suspended over Islamist salute

-Egyptian court orders end to state of emergency

-Tunisia: Search continues for new prime minister

-Gunman killed, police wounded in Tunisia clashes

-Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures

-Pro-Syrian regime cleric killed in north Lebanon

-Sudan polio vaccination campaign has failed

-Arab Spring nations backtrack on women’s rights, poll says

-Abused women must come out of their closets

-450,000 Saudis to be trained

-33% of govt projects face disruption every year


Arafat’s death

-Thousands mark Arafat's death across the West Bank

-Abbas pledges to uncover truth behind Arafat's death

-Arafat’s murderers must face justice

-FM: PA determined to uncover truth about Arafat death

Outside of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Arab world doesn’t appear to use a lot of ink writing about ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestine’-related issues. Even for Jordan, with a large ‘Palestinian’ population, the ‘Palestinian cause’ doesn’t seem to be an urgent news topic.

This Arab news cycle prompts two observations: (1) the farther one gets from Israel’s borders, the less interest Arabs appear to have in the entire Arab-Israel conflict; and (2) the PA’s obsession with demonizing Israel just doesn’t seem to compare very well with other, more urgent Regional problems.

For example, Syria is destroying itself. Over 100,000 have been officially killed since March 2011 number could be considerably higher. More than two million refugees have been driven from their homes. Cities, towns and villages have been turned into rubble. More than 600,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan alone, causing an enormous humanitarian and economic problem for the Jordanian government.

Tunisia still can’t choose a leader. That provokes unrest—and that unrest provokes an orgy of deadly clashes between government and anti-government forces.

Egypt continues to totter. It is just now coming out of a state of emergency. Its population is still split between pro-and anti-Muslim Brotherhood factions. Even a soccer player has been suspended from his team because of Islamist-non-Islamist differences. Inflation reaches double digits.

Sudan is on a political and social death-bed. The situation there is so bad that the UN now admits that both government and rebel forces have refused to allow U.N. aid workers to vaccinate some 160,000 children against polio. The UN’s Sudanese polio campaign is now, officially, a failure.

The children continue to suffer.

Iran threatens the entire gulf region. The US so far has refused to act with strength against Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Saudis, in particular, are unhappy with America’s soft approach. They don’t think ‘soft’ is going to stop Iran.

The Saudis and the Kuwaitis didn’t follow PA news in this cycle. Instead, they focus on distinctly different issues. Their concerns in this news cycle are illegal immigrants—and business. For example, in an effort to reduce reliance on foreign workers, the Saudis announce they will create programs to train 450,000 Saudi youth to do skilled labour. It’s a five-year plan. They’ll open more than 300 training sites throughout the Kingdom.

Saudi Inflation is now ‘slowing’. Their news report doesn’t give numbers—the Saudis apparently don’t do that. But their inflation report is a positive for them--if it's accurate.  

The main focus for both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait seems to be the business of business. The Saudis report they are concerned about disruptions in construction projects. They do a lot of constructing. Their economy could be impacted by too much disruption. They report that fully one-third of all projects face major disruptions each year. That’s too much.

Their news reports list reasons for this disruption. They express concern over the potential negative impact of disruption on the Saudi economy. They identify solutions.

The report suggests a sense of urgency. These problems have to be solved.  

It all paints a picture: we are in the business of business. We know we are not perfect. We work to get better. We will get better.

These reports suggest that Saudi businessmen haven’t yet matured to American standards. These businessmen are, for example, concerned about government inefficiencies and what an American might call shockingly incompetent money management by contractors.

But such concerns don’t appear unique to the Arab Middle East. They could just as easily have been written about Israeli projects.

The stories, however, have nothing to do with Israel. They have everything to do with trying to build a thriving, stable economy.

The PA news outlet doesn’t run many of these kinds of stories. If you compare Jordanian, Saudi and Kuwaiti news against PA news in this current news cycle, you may come to a simple conclusion: the PA is not in the same economic league as these other places.  Read PA news alongside these other Arab news vendors and you realize that the PA has only one industry: hate Israel.

That industry attracts as much as a billion dollars a year. It’s not a small industry. But it’s a limited industry. Its size and money-making capability is dwarfed by what Kuwait and the other Gulf states can generate.

The hate-Israel industry no doubt keeps some in the PA happy. A few get very rich from it. But it’s not a winning formula. It’s more like an economic dead-end.

The stories above covered a week’s news cycle. Certainly, there were other stories in the Arab media. The majority of those stories had nothing to do with the ‘Palestinian struggle.’

Is the PA playing a loser’s game?



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