It is no surprise that America's conservatives are opposed to the US president Barack Obama's policies, since everything that the new president is doing, at home and abroad, goes against their beliefs, wrote Sobhi Zaitar in the Saudi Arabian daily Al Watan. Once the shock of the presidential election passed, that bloc drew its weapons and pointed them at President Obama. One of the leading figures of this opposition drive is Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president Dick Cheney, the mastermind of the war against Iraq.
Conservatives have chosen for themselves the slogan of "Keep America Safe" to portray Obama as the one who is jeopardising American security, while he is striving to get the country out of a crisis caused by his predecessors mistakes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama's decision to opt for a dialogue with Iran will prevent a military confrontation, an exercise for which Dick Cheney had been among the fiercest advocates. Keeping America safe cannot rely on oppression and occupation and Liz Cheney's move can only lead her to failure.
Most countries in this part of the world live in extreme tension and the lack of positive prospects will inevitably lead to a major outburst, wrote Saleh al Qallab in an opinion article published by the Jordanian daily Al Rai. One explosion could take the form of a nuclear war, given the extremely complicated stand-off between Iran and Israel, fuelled by mutual threats.
There is no hope for a settlement in Palestine, with such an extremist Israeli government in power, and not a hint of light at the end of the dark Afghan tunnel. Worse, the Pakistani regime is on the brink of collapse and the alternative might well be Taliban rule, or chaos, in a country with a significant nuclear arsenal. There is no hope either to see Iran follow in the steps of Turkey and opt for co-operation and brotherly relations based on mutual interests with countries of the region. Historically, in such a tremendous accumulation of pressure, particularly when there is no rational, negotiated and peaceful solution to be found, the result has always been a war that acts like a valve to release the pressure. Clearly, all of the US president Barack Obama's promises are meaningless and the US is powerless to reduce tensions.
When Lebanon is selected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the coming two years, the country will recover part of its international legitimacy, wrote Satii Nureddine, in the Beirut-based daily Assafir.
It is true that the Security Council is no longer a major actor in the international decision making process, but the simple fact of having the Lebanese delegation sit at the same table with the five veto-holders will rehabilitate the country's foreign policy, or at least open a debate on this policy. The task will not be an easy one for the Lebanese delegate, who will have to find a consensus position that is impossible to reach at home. He can always hide behind the so-called Arab consensus reflected in the Arab League resolutions, but he will rapidly discover that the Palestinian cause is not the most complex topic before the Council. The issues are numerous and include Darfur, Yemen and Syrian-Iraqi relations. The experience is worth having for Lebanon, which will probably have a government before taking over the Security Council seat early next year. It will be an opportunity for the country to "invent" a consensus or at least common ground that can be displayed in New York and contribute to rebuilding its image, after almost losing all legitimacy due to the conflicts of recent years.
When the new US administration announced new priorities for the region, Iran topped the list, followed by Iraq, while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ranked third, wrote Hassan Haidar in a column published by the London-based Saudi newspaper Al Hayat.
The ranking was a recognition of the growing role of Iran in the region and a de facto acceptance of the necessary involvement of Tehran in any settlement projects that it could block.
Iran was described by a close collaborator of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, as the "most important country in the most important region in the world". There are parties in Washington who actually adopt this assessment and draw US Middle East policies accordingly. The openness policy towards Iran, illustrated by the recent Geneva negotiations, means Washington places less importance on other regional actors, including Syria and Israel, which have been at the forefront for many years.
Israel remains Washington's main ally in the region, but this did not prevent the US from limiting the sphere of action when the US advised it not to engage in any military attack against Iran. * Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji firstname.lastname@example.org