A: By the smell of peanuts on his breath.
It's starting to smell like peanuts in the Middle East tub. So who's the elephant?
Israel's brutal attacks on Gaza have prompted some in the Arab media to start looking around the room.
Writing in al-Hayat, Mohammad Salah points his finger in the general direction of the elephant, arguing that ever since Hamas went down the road of dividing Palestine, the result has not been to the gain of only Israel:
"[When] Hamas took over the Gaza Strip... things became even worse; Palestinian disunity became a reality and there was no longer one Palestine, but two... Whoever hopes for the Palestinians to re-unite or rally behind a single leadership for the Palestinian people in its confrontation with Israel, peacefully or militarily, is deluded... Hamas will [not] relinquish its control over Gaza under any conditions, the PA has [no] authority to return the Gaza Strip to the rest of what remains of Palestine. Moreover, regional parties with influence over the Palestinian cause have not united behind the PA or Hamas; rather, they are divided between the two."Who are these "regional parties"?
Jihad al-Khazen, sometimes a Hamas supporter, goes on:
"I still do not understand the reasons why Hamas - being the government - turned on itself and created an emirate for the Muslim Brotherhood in the Strip instead of trying to free the whole land then see what kind of rule people wanted in an election. Politics is not worthy of its name if it is not the politics of the possible. Hamas' policy in Gaza is suicidal."The Arab world is becoming more divided, writes Jonathan Wright in the Egyptian Gazette, making eye contact with the elephant in the room:
"There is an Iranian plan, with Hamas and some of the Muslim Brotherhood, to stir up trouble in Palestine and Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood, [Egypt's] banned-yet-influential group with one fifth of the seats in parliament, is in close alliance with Hamas, which began as a Brotherhood offshoot."As usual, asharq alawsat editor-in-chief Tariq Almohayed draws a complete picture, pointing out that Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah spent half his recent speech - ostensibly delivered to criticize the Israeli assault on Gaza - inciting Egyptians to turn against their government, and the other half of his speech stirring up the usual bitterness dividing Lebanon.
Comparing the course that Hamas has taken with that of Hezbollah, Almohayed suggests:
"Shouldn’t Hamas turn away from Iranian assistance to strengthen it when all this does is torture the people of Gaza and subject them to brutal Israeli force?"What is the emerging trend here? Let's go down the list of current events:
- Lebanon: divided (Hezbollah with Syrian elements vs nationalist factions; and factions vs factions as a result)
- Iraq: divided (ethnic and religious factions vs each other)
- Palestine: divided (Hamas vs Fatah vs common sense and democratization)
What we're increasingly seeing from the Arab media is portrayal of the fact that Iranian support of the Muslim Brotherhood, of Hezbollah, of Hamas, of certain Shi'ite groups in Iraq, is ripping up the region.
And ironically, Israel's bloodletting only helps Iran achieve its goal of permanent destabilization. Because, of course, Israel has the same objective. The Arab media is quite practised at criticizing Israel - justifiably, for the most part - but not at identifying Iran as complicit in, for example, the emerging Israel-Hamas war.
As the scope of the bloody Gaza war becomes clearer, this is changing. That elephant in the bathtub? It's Iran.