x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

The obvious outrage in the Middle East over the US-Iranian talks may have come as a surprise to the White House as it seeks to conclude a historic agreement that ends the conflict with the Iranian regime, suggested the columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashed in the London-based daily, Asharq Al Awsat.

“In truth, no one objects to dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons without resorting to war. On the contrary, it is a most welcome proposition provided it is concluded at a reasonable price,” he wrote.

An attack on Iran to destroy its nuclear capabilities would have had devastating effects on the entire region. Realising this, the stakeholders have come together to exert economic pressure on Iran to compel it to peacefully relinquish its military nuclear programme.

Soon after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, Iranians offered to halt nuclear activities in exchange for less constricting sanctions and a pledge to engage in negotiations over some sort of solution. Naturally, the Obama administration seized the moment and rushed into talks with Tehran.

“The problem, it seems, is that the US administration wasn’t transparent with its friends. It gave them incomplete information about the temporary agreement which turned out to have included heftier rewards to Iran,” Al Rashed noted.

This led the concerned parties to cast doubts on the talks. They felt the Obama administration was rushing into a deal that might be harmful to the region in more than one way.

The greatest concern is that Iran would agree to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for more leeway in the region, where the US would withdraw its forces from the Gulf waters and pledge to refrain from intervening in any Middle Eastern wars that don’t directly target its interests.

There was also some apprehension from a possible accord that would grant Iran permission to press ahead with its military nuclear project and, in return, Iran would guarantee that it wouldn’t use it.

“Both options would be seriously threatening to the region’s countries. The first encourages Iran to make up for its nuclear loss by creating additional confrontations in the Middle East leading to a wider regional war. The second would turn it into an invincible nuclear power, bolstering its feeling of impregnability and its desire for revenge and expansion.”

While Mr Obama continues to court Tehran, he hasn’t done anything to reassure his allies and friends. Meanwhile, Mr Rouhani is sufficiently reassured that the US government wouldn’t challenge it that he boldly sends Iranian troops to fight on Syrian soil alongside the Assad regime, exacerbating what is already one of the worst human tragedies in the region’s history.

Libyans are on the brink of a civil war

The southern parts of Libya are turning into reserves for armed groups and jihadists. There is also an exchange of weapons and militants from the south towards Mali, said Faysal Jalloul in the Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.

While Libya’s immediate neighbours complain about arms and armed chaos in this country, its European neighbours, particularly Italy, complain about illegal immigration backed by the local mafia, which became more organised after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi,.

Meanwhile, diplomatic missions are criticising the lack of security, especially after the killing last year of the American ambassador in Benghazi on the anniversary of September 11, he noted.

Needless to say, the Libyans themselves complain about armed militias and armed chaos. People of Tripoli took to the streets demanding the departure of the militia in Misurata and Zliten from the streets of their city and about 500 protesters were killed or wounded. People of Benghazi also protested against the jihadi militias, as well as residents of other cities who suffer from kidnappings, looting and arbitrary sentences imposed by the militias in this or that city.

“At the moment, this country looks to be on the verge of a civil war, which is regrettable. It’s only miracle that can save it,” the writer concluded.

Lebanon’s freedom lives only in memory

Since the announcement of independence in 1943, Lebanon has been moving from “occupation” to “occupation”, sometimes public, sometimes veiled, sometimes by military forces and sometimes by a Lebanese party, said Hassan Haydar in the London-based daily Al Hayat.

In all cases, the occupier carries the seeds of division, thereby making sure that it continues to grow and thrive.

A few days before Independence Day, two explosions targeting the Iranian embassy have terrorised Beirut.

This attack is only one event in a series of actions and reactions in Lebanon for decades, he said.

The Lebanese themselves, the Palestinians, Syrians, Israelis, Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans and other Arab and international intelligence agencies have been working continuously to break into Lebanon, breach its security and settle scores on its land.

While “occupation” has varied only in terms and methods, it left nothing more for Lebanon than a memory of its independence and some speeches, parades and flags.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk