x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

A trap for Abbas at the UN

France, like the US and Israel, is trying to box the Palestinians in at the United Nations, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics in today's roundup: Palestinian courage, Syria after Al Assad and the UAE's Election Day.

France's Sarkozy lays a trap for Abbas at UN

Surely, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, wasn't speaking independently from Israel or the United States when he suggested in his address at the UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday that Palestine be given an observing state status, said the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi daily in its editorial.

Mr Sarkozy also proposed a timetable for Israeli-Palestinian peace, with negotiations to resume in the near future and a final deal to be reached in one year.

"It was an attempt to avoid a confrontation at the Security Council where the US would be forced to veto the Palestinian bid for statehood. It is clear that the Obama administration is facing a moral and political conundrum."

The US and French stances at the UN is a new trap for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. They place him back in square one.

Both Mr Obama and Mr Sarkozy are trying to deliver Israel from the embarrassment of having sabotaged the peace process. They want to implicate the Palestinians in renewed talks and hold them responsible for the failure of the peace process in case they reject proposals to return to the negotiations table.

"President Abbas personally would be the biggest loser if he agrees to anything short of full recognition … Obama's veto would result in Arab protests at his embassies across the Arab World. It is exactly this that he's trying to avoid."

Arab identity offers Palestinians courage

The return of the Palestinian issue to the forefront of the international agenda is indeed a significant achievement, stated Satea Noureddin in the Lebanese Assafir daily.

It is no less significant than Israel's present bind as it finds itself before a crucial test of its standing among western allies that have been realising that it's becoming a liability threatening their aspirations for peaceful relations with the newly free Arab crowds.

The decision to apply for statehood is purely Palestinian. It reveals that the Palestinian Authority captured and recognised the signals from the Arab street, more anxious than ever to have a say in shaping Arab foreign policies.

"The Palestinian decision to apply for statehood also suggests that the PA was encouraged by western powers that are fed up with Israel's excesses."

The political standoff nears its decisive moments as President Abbas is scheduled to stand before the UN to apply for full membership for his country. It is an exceptional opportunity.

If recent anti-Israeli events in Egypt were to prove anything, it is that the Arabs are reclaiming the reins of initiative and trying to impose their will. The Palestinians can certainly draw courage from this renewed awareness of Arab identity, freedom and dignity that is closely tied to the Palestinian cause.




Who will rule Syria in post-Al Assad future?

It is by now common knowledge that the US is convinced that the Syrian president will sooner or later be toppled, said the columnist Daoud al Sharyan in the pan-Arab Al Hayat daily.

Mr Al Assad's regime is no longer viable, but what Washington fears most is the possibility of a civil war erupting once the regime falls. For this reason, it is said that the US has initiated a secret cooperation with Turkey to prepare for a post-Al Assad phase.

"What are Washington plans for Syria?" the writer asked. "Will it give Ankara a role similar to Tehran's in Iraq?"

Following the Iraqi occupation, the US blocked any attempts by Arab countries to influence the political scene there. Instead, it gave Iran the freedom to arrange the political affairs in the country. Just as Baghdad is being run from Tehran with America's blessing Damascus seems to be in for a journey under Ankara's power.

Turkey has in fact been preparing for this new role since the first days of the uprising. It received Syrian refugees and facilitated the first two conferences for opposition forces on its territories. All the while, it was working on polishing its image in the Arab public opinion.

The Syrian opposition forces aren't united and they don't have a clear vision of the solution. They draw their support from external powers. The Arabs, once again, chose to remain on the sidelines.



No room for courtesy on UAE Election Day

The decision of the UAE government to expand political participation and to promote the democratic experience was based on total and deep conviction, said Sami al Reyami, the editor in chief of the Dubai-based Al Emarat Al Youm daily.

The concept of an advisory council isn't new to the UAE. Successive councils of various shapes and powers have accompanied the several phases of the establishment of the state.

"We are now at the threshold of a new phase that requires advisory councils with additional effectiveness that are able to cope with domestic and regional changes," the writer said.

It is indeed a big responsibility for the 130,000 voters. It is their duty to participate actively and, more importantly, to choose wisely according to criteria of competence and merit.

"The FNC (Federal National Council) is surely not the place for social courtesies. The elections are the ultimate expression of patriotism, not a forum for personal sympathies and considerations," he added.

It is indeed a great responsibility. The voters have the power to fortify the FNC with efficient and capable members.





* Digest complied by Racha Makarem