Arab World Is Downbeat in Wake of Gaza War

Some say it reveals the Muslim world's weakness. Others say it makes a two-state solution less likely.

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By Larry Derfner, Mideast Watch

With the war in Gaza appearing to be all but over, despite brief, intermittent clashes, the moderate Arab world—which has no love for Israel or Hamas—is engaging in postmortems, and the conclusions are decidedly downbeat. Commentator Rahim El Kishky writes in Daily News Egypt that the war showed the weakness of the entire Muslim world, radicals and moderates alike:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad mentioned more than three years ago and repeatedly afterwards that Israel should be wiped off the map. No one can deny the fact that he gained the admiration of many in the Arab world, but again we should pause and think twice. If he's really sincere, why didn't he even try to live up to his promise? What better opportunity than the current attack on Gaza? While Israel was at war with Hamas, Hezbollah could have started another war in the north; even better, the U.S. is involved in two different wars—both rejected by the majority of Americans—and facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

So what is Mr. Ahmadinejad waiting for? Another 70 years for such an opportunity to come again? Or maybe to win the elections in June and try in the next term? The fact is that he never intended to go to war or to wipe Israel off the map. The West should have never taken him seriously; and more importantly the Arab people should never allow such empty rhetoric to manipulate them.

And in the official Saudi Arabian newspaper Arab News, commentator Osama Al Sharif writes that the war has been a great defeat for the moderate Arab world that has been pushing for a two-state solution—Palestine and Israel:

Whether it was Israel's intention or not, the war, initially waged to destroy, replace, or weaken Hamas, has dealt an almost lethal blow to the two-state solution, which has been the center of U.S.-sponsored negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel for years. The Israeli attack has failed to loosen Hamas' stranglehold on the Strip. In fact, some would say, including many Israelis and Palestinians, the war has only tightened the Islamist movement's grip over the future of Gaza and its people.

The Palestinian political front is more divided than ever, the PA's leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is less credible today than he was a month ago, and the moderate Arab camp, which has been promoting peace with Israel, is silent and traumatized.

Abu Ghraib set to reopen

Iraq is set to reopen Abu Ghraib prison, closed in 2006 after photographs of U.S. troops mistreating and humiliating Iraqi prisoners became a moral debacle for America's war effort. Arab satellite TV network Al Jazeera reports:

The Iraqi government will reopen the notorious Abu Ghraib prison next month under the name of Baghdad Central Prison, a senior justice official has said.

The announcement came as the U.S. military began handing over detainees in its custody to the Iraqis under a new security agreement.

"We have named it Baghdad Central Prison because of its bad reputation as Abu Ghraib prison, not just because of what the Americans did there but also because of what the regime of Saddam has done," he said.

Dubai prepares firing squad for murderer

In Dubai, a robber convicted of the brutal murder of a night watchman has been sentenced to death by firing squad. If the sentence is carried out, it will be the first execution in the Persian Gulf emirate in eight years. Arab satellite TV network Al Arabiya reports:

The 24-year-old referred to as Abdul Sabour K was found guilty by the Dubai Court of First Instance of attacking and torturing the night watchman of a car showroom with a knife and hammer in March 2008 to find out the where the company safe was located and finally stabbed him 11 times, daily [newspaper] 7 Days reported. . . .

If he loses his appeal case, the death sentence would be carried out by firing squad. The convicted felon stands blindfolded in front of five men armed with rifles. Only one of them has live ammunition while the rest are given blanks. No one will know who has the live ammunition, and all will aim at the heart. . . .

The last execution took place in 2001 and involved a man found guilty of kidnapping and raping a young girl.