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Where Will This Escalation Lead? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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We live today in an atmosphere of escalation that resembles, to a large degree, the mood before the September 11 attacks. I say “escalation” and not instability, as some politicians reiterate, since our region has not known stability is over a century.

Let us recall the atmosphere prior to September 11 attacks: popular anger and unrest during the intifada, and the killing of Mohammed al Durra, whose picture shook the Arab world and the international community. It was later exploited and became a popular cry.

Politically, at present, we are witnessed an escalation driven by Washington D.C and Iran , towards a battle of polarization and hostility. The United States , in collaboration with Israel , of course, wants to cut off Hamas, which seized power through the ballot box. Iran is playing its strongest cards, Iraq , Lebanon and Syria . Hamas, which has reached power according to an article in the Oslo agreements- which stipulates the need for Palestinian elections and reform-, is seeking to impose its rules on the game instead of recognizing the Oslo agreements. Hamas continues to bang its head against the wall; either its skull will fracture or the wall will fall. But it won’t!

Hamas’ leadership using tactics and publicity, to the extent of praying for the cameras! Ismail Haniyah was pictured praying alone on a mosque rooftop, in front of the camera lenses as did Khaled Meshaal in the presence of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Of course, this behavior is motivated by financial considerations. Iran’s financial role in the Occupied Territories is well documented. As the Arab world stands by idle and Iran extend its influence, I wonder if the Islamic Republic has appropriated our most important issue, as we constantly repeat… Palestine?

On the popular level, instigators continue to fan the flames of the cartoon controversy every time the sensible amongst us try to extinguish them. They belong to parties, organizations and even the media. The row has reached the level of a public outcry, similar to the situation before September 11. It is clear that certain sides want to prolong the anger, without being aware of the limits of this anger or where it will lead.

We live in an atmosphere of popular and political escalation, without a leadership to counter this tension and defuse the situation by halting Iran ’s interference in Iraq and Lebanon , at least. We must ask ourselves: Can we accept a nuclear Iran ? This is the crux of the matter! If there was no obstruction on the highest levels, the current popular anger and political escalation would not be present. I feel we are on the verge of a new crisis.

We cannot say, “let the Americans reap what they have sowed”, in the end, if what they have built collapses, it is us who will suffer.

We cannot standby so as no one can claim we are carrying out Washington’s agenda.

Unfortunately, we are surrounded by Washington and Tehran’s agendas. But what of our program, as the sons and daughters of this region who strive for peace and prosperity?

I might be overly pessimistic but the facts are on the ground for all to see. As someone once said, “We have accustomed ourselves to say that nothing worse that our present situation would befall on us. But we continue to be surprised that the worse is still to come.”

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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