Saudi FM: Negotiations with Iran are a waste of time
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Arabic media review

Saudi FM: Negotiations with Iran are a waste of time

Arab observers turn to the Muslim Brotherhood for answers on ongoing violence along the Suez Canal

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Egyptian army soldiers and military police secure a funeral procession for civilians killed overnight during street battles with police forces, in Port Said, Egypt, Monday, March 4, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Ahmed Ramadan)
Egyptian army soldiers and military police secure a funeral procession for civilians killed overnight during street battles with police forces, in Port Said, Egypt, Monday, March 4, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Ahmed Ramadan)

American impatience with the seemingly endless negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program features high in Arab news Tuesday, which quotes statements by Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia and Vice President Joe Biden at the AIPAC conference in Washington.

“Washington: All the options are on the table with Iran,” reads the headline of a report in Al-Jazeera‘s Arabic website, featuring a photo of Biden with a backdrop of US and Israeli flags at the AIPAC conference.

According to the Qatar-based station, Biden told participants at the pro-Israel lobby conference on Monday that the window of opportunity for negotiations with Iran will not remain open forever.

The issue of Iran’s nuclear program also came up in talks between Secretary of State John Kerry, visiting Saudi Arabia on a Middle East tour, and his Saudi counterpart Saud Al-Faisal.

According to London-based daily Al-Hayat, Faisal was no less impatient with Iran’s procrastination than Kerry. Using unusually blunt terms, Faisal waged a scathing attack on Iran’s negotiating tactics.

“The meaning of negotiation is to discuss matters seriously and rationally and place clear commitments for all,” said Faisal. “Negotiation is not to bring someone who will deceive us and play with us. This is the wrong way to negotiate.”

“These elements are missing with the Iranians. They have not proved their seriousness in negotiations to anyone, and have continued to negotiate for the sake of continuing to negotiate in the future.”

Faisal added that if negotiations continue in such a manner, and no clear timetable is put in place, Iran will produce a nuclear weapon.

Violence in Egypt; Brotherhood soul-searching

Mass demonstrations in the northern Egyptian city of Port Said lead the news in the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

The daily reports that civil disobedience continues in numerous Suez Canal cities, reaching Cairo as well and thus “expanding the map of violence and the unknown.”

Egyptian daily Al-Ahram‘s website reports that clashes between police and protesters continued on Tuesday near the security building, with protesters hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at police cars, which responded by firing teargas. The daily, siding with the government, dubs the protests “violent acts.”

“The schism of the Egyptian street between political Islam and civil forces may seem like a political divide, but it may be a class divide in essence,” writes Al-Ahram columnist Mostafa El-Feky. “Both camps are internally divided as well, with the ruling Islamic stream not able to provide a clear road map.”

Meanwhile, Egyptian columnist Fahmi Huwaidi argues in Al-Jazeera that a delicate balance must be struck in Egypt between religion and state, with neither complete separation nor the alternative of a “religious state.”

“The Islamic condition is facing a major challenge following the revolution, as a result of the crash landing from the skies of its slogans and teachings to the ground of reality, fraught with landmines. This has forced [Islamism] to reconsider many of its positions and statements,” writes Huwaidi.

Liberal columnist Mohammed Salmawi, writing for the independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, comments on the misguided reasons that led the US to support the Muslim Brotherhood as successors to Mubarak.

“All the reasons that led the United States to support the Brotherhood in reaching power in Egypt following the revolution were proved wrong. The main reason was its naive belief that on the merit of being the largest political organization after the disappearance of the National Party, the Brotherhood would be able to achieve stability in a way that would guarantee American interests.”

“In fact, this theory, which the United States adopted in its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, collapsed the moment Mohammed Morsi took office, before the initial 100-day period had lapsed.”  

Al-Quds Al-Arabi, as is its custom, looks for the silver lining around the Egyptian cloud. It dedicates its lead editorial Tuesday to Israel’s concern regarding Egypt’s instability.

“The democratic change which toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt has disrupted Israel’s military and security calculations. The Egyptian front has remained peaceful for over 40 years thanks to the Camp David accords first and foremost, and the former Egyptian regime’s steadfastness in respecting them.”

“The first direct reflections of Israel’s concern regarding the Egyptian and Syrian fronts is the building of a security wall which is close to completion on the border with Sinai, and a plan to build another security wall on the Golan Heights.”

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