Nine years ago yesterday, al Qa'eda perpetrated the infamous attacks of September 11 in New York, killing almost 3,000 innocent people, declared the pan-Arab daily Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial. The attacks poisoned relationships between Islam and the West. They changed the course of history when they were exploited as a pretext to wage two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite the long US war to eradicate it, al Qa'eda is still a major threat to the West and to moderate Arab regimes. The organisation has expanded its operations field and increased its ability to recruit Muslim youth and execute new attacks. Western security experts confirm in their strategic reports that the organisation has weakened dramatically due to successive strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such assessments are far from reality, as they don't consider the various changes in al Qa'eda's ideologies and its new young leadership's perspective.
Before the war in Afghanistan, al Qa'eda had one address. Today, it operates in a multitude of branches: in Yemen, North Africa, Iraq and Somalia to name a few. It succeeded in developing a young fieldof leadership that benefited from the current decentralisation. They have started making their decisions and executing operations on their own. That makes them more dangerous due to their wide distribution.
In an article for Qatari newspaper Al Watan, Mazen Hammad wrote: "Despite the regression of US power in Iraq following the withdrawal of combat forces last month, Washington is still actively working to ensure an agreement that would result in the formation of a new government in Baghdad." The Obama administration is currently encouraging new power-sharing measures in Iraq that would keep Nouri al Maliki as prime minister, but within the framework of a government coalition that would dramatically limit his powers.
The US vice president Joe Biden was promoting this plan last week in Iraq. He sought to convince the Iraqi leadership to incorporate structural changes in the composition of the Iraqi government in a way that restricts the prime minister through a new committee empowered to ratify military, political, security and oil-related appointments and review the state's budget. US officials claim that this plan - which aims to include Iyad Allawi's Iraqiyya party into a coalition including the Kurdish alliance and al Maliki's party - represents the best chance to put an end to an ongoing crisis that has kept Iraq without a government six months after parliamentary elections. Sceptics question the US's ability to finalise the deal and overpower Iranian efforts to form a coalition headed by Mr al Maliki in a Shiite alliance without Mr Allawi.
In a comment on the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations scheduled for this coming week, Ghazi al Aridi wrote in the Emirati daily Al Ittihad: "The dispute now is to decide what should come first: security or borders, in order to set a definite schedule for the negotiations."
The controversy over the schedule, coupled with Israel's insistence on continuing settlement plans, means that nothing has changed. The scene today is the same as in all previous negotiations under American patronage, which did not result in a breakthrough since Israel went on to terrorise Palestinians, confiscate land and build more settlements. The same scenario repeats itself today with the Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman personally vowing not to stop settlement plans and promising that nothing will come of direct talks. The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the negotiations are necessary but he had no high hopes about them. His primary achievement was to extract from the US president Barack Obama a commitment to the security and stability of Israel as a Jewish state. The current situation doesn't augur well. Palestinian internal dissent will only lead to mutual accusations that Israel will soon exploit to commit additional crimes. Palestinians must heed the gravity of their internal disputes and resolve them. This would be their only bet to prevent Israel from executing its old scenarios.
In its editorial, the Emirati daily Al Khaleej reported that Sudan has already reached an actual separation phase. It is no longer a matter of analysis or opinion. Separation of north and south is now a matter of fact. The referendum scheduled to take place this coming January is nothing but a facade.
The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced recently that Sudan's division is inevitable and warned of a time bomb with possible dire consequences. This is in fact an announcement of the separation, which places the country in line for a civil war. Sudan is now in the eye of the storm. The US, since the invasion of Iraq, has been reshaping the map of the region including Sudan and other countries. It used all possible instruments at its disposal and recruited its forces and agents to execute its plan.
Sudan has always been part of US schemes in view of its strategic position as a southern gateway to the Arab world and its oil wealth. Add to that, the separation of southern Sudan is of great benefit to Israel and poses a threat to Arab security. "The conspiracy is nearing its end. Mrs Clinton has read the obituary of Sudan as we know it. Will we, Arabs, stand idly by and let the country slip from our hands?"
* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem firstname.lastname@example.org