"Why have the Iraqi Shiites split up at the highest stratum of the political pyramid?" asked Ahmed Amorabi in the opinion section of the Emirati daily newspaper Al Bayan. For four years, the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite coalition led by Nouri al Maliki, was the dominant power in the Iraqi political arena, especially in parliament. But things changed last August when the Al Dawa Party, which is also led by Mr al Maliki, broke away from the coalition and stood alone as an independent political power. As a result, the other Shiite parties reorganised themselves into a new alliance set to enter the upcoming elections in January against Mr al Maliki's party.
Now, having turned its back on its old pro-Iranian allies, is the Al Dawa party abandoning its sectarian affiliation? Mr al Maliki knows well that he would not survive politically if he pitted himself against the Iran-supported Shiite leaders in Iraq. That is why he made sure the US is watching his back. "This does not mean that Mr al Maliki should be labelled as a US agent serving American vital interests in Iraq and in the region. The idea, rather, is that political manoeuvring has created common ground between the Iraqi leader and the US administration."
The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said recently that the US president Barack Obama "is not doing anything at the present time" towards reviving the peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but one should wonder why Mr Obama is supposed to stand by the Palestinians since they have not done anything to help themselves in the first place, wrote Tariq al Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.
"This is a legitimate question. Watch what is happening these days with the deal to exchange the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas has confirmed for the second time that it has reached a consensus with all factions in Gaza to cease launching rockets on Israel, which means that Hamas has stopped the 'resistance'." Hamas is suspending its so-called resistance to avoid more pressing matters; namely, putting some order inside the Palestinian home. Knowing that its reputation is in a steady decline, Hamas is using the prisoners' exchange deal to make itself look better during the upcoming national elections. Now, if the Palestinian Authority is unable to either reach a compromise with Hamas or deal with it as a rebellious movement, how can Mr Obama come in and help the Palestinians out of their own predicament?
"The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fully aware that Israel is in a serious crisis as it has been almost globally isolated since the massacres in the Gaza Strip early this year," the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi stated in its editorial.
Mr Netanyahu's unexpected settlement freeze announcement comes after the Israeli president Shimon Peres and the defence minister Ehud Barak failed in Cairo to convince Egypt to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to go back to the negotiation table without concrete guarantees about a settlement freeze. "Netanyahu's schemes no longer fly with the Arabs, especially not the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, the US administration is still gullible and has welcomed his new booby-trapped proposition as a push forward in the peace process."
The clauses of Mr Netanyahu's plan bring its sting to light: the scheme states that Jerusalem is the unified and eternal capital of Israel, which is supposed to justify its exemption from the settlements halt; and settlement activity and Palestinian land confiscation will resume after a 10-month moratorium ends. The Palestinian Authority actually did the right thing when it publicly rejected Mr Netanyahu's plan, stressing that the settlement freeze would be inconsequential as long as it leaves out Jerusalem.
The former British prime minister Tony Blair was the key actor in Britain's decision to join forces with the US in the Iraq invasion in 2003, commented Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. "This is a fact that will certainly be exposed by the British investigative committee which has been called upon to write a report on the war on Iraq." In the opening session of the investigations, the committee found that Mr Blair's government knew that important members of the US administration wanted to oust Saddam Hussein well before the invasion. But, fully aware of the illegitimacy of such an act, Britain had kept its distance and refused military involvement.
The evidence presented in this first hearing has traced back the sequence of events that led London, which was initially opposed to a military venture in Iraq, to take part in the war soon after George W Bush came to power. Indeed, many of the testimonies overlap with respect to the fact that Britain had strongly resisted US pressure and that, without Mr Blair's personal enthusiasm for military involvement, London would not have been part of the Iraq invasion.
* Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi @Email: firstname.lastname@example.org