x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Awlaki's death could backfire

Arabic editorials also discuss Tony Blair's role for the Middle East Quartet and the EU's stance on Palestinian statehood bid.

Killing of Al Awlaki in Yemen may backfire

Killing Anwar Al Awlaki, one of Al Qaeda's prominent chiefs in Yemen, may be another victory for the United States, but such a victory is not without potential side-effects, commented Abdelbari Atwan, the editor of the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi, in a column yesterday.

The killing of Al Awlaki and six of his comrades by a US drone comes nearly four months after the killing of the top Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, in Pakistan. "But this new 'feat', however important it may be, could turn out to be a costly one," the editor said.

Forget Al Qaeda's vows to retaliate, for these are customary. At his stage, what is more dangerous is the reaction of the Yemeni people to the US's violation of their country's airspace and to the murder of a man many of them considered their own, despite his US citizenship.

"More young Yemenis may actually be tempted to join the ranks of Al Qaeda after the killing of Al Awlaki. And there is potential now for greater antipathy for the US and its allies in Yemen."

It would be hard for Al Qaeda to replace someone like Al Awlaki, who represented the "second generation" of Al Qaeda's leaders with his powerful rhetorical abilities. But we can't call this yet the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda's octopus-like organisation.

It's high time that Blair left the Quartet

It was expected that the Palestinian leadership would sooner or later be fed up with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and the current representative of the Quartet on the Middle East, wrote columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan yesterday.

While being an envoy of the Quartet - the Middle East peace mediation group comprised of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia - Mr Blair behaves "more like an employee at Benjamin Netanyahu's government", the writer said.

There are reportedly heated debates within the Palestinian Authority and the Quartet about the urgent need to dismiss Mr Blair, who is blamed for misrepresenting the Palestinian side's stance on the peace process and related developments.

"Quite frankly, I say nobody should be surprised at Blair's behaviour," the columnist said. "Since his tenure at Number 10 Downing Street, he was known for his support of the Israeli position and his full approval of all the policies adopted by Tel Aviv. One actually wonders why did it take so long … for these demands to push him aside to finally be heard."

According to recent reports, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation is set to declare Mr Blair a persona non grata in Palestine, citing his blatant bias toward Israel.


Another chief down, Al Qaeda's end is near

The killing of the prominent Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, Anwar Al Awlaki, comes as "a clear sign" that the demise of this organisation is imminent, the Emirati newspaper Akhbar al Arab stated in its editorial yesterday.

The death of Al Awlaki coincides with a growing sense among Arabs and Muslims that Al Qaeda's agenda has been short-sighted all along and that its "terrorist acts" have been severely detrimental to Islam.

This explains the quasi-indifference among Arabs and Muslims to the killing of Osama bin Laden, the original leader of Al Qaeda, a few months ago.

With the Arab Spring, the status of Al Qaeda receded dramatically, given that Arab and Muslim peoples discovered more peaceful and efficient ways to effect change in their respective political environments.

"The disparity between the two approaches became so stark," the newspaper said. For the Arab Spring came as an antithesis not only to despotism, but also to terrorist ideology.

Al Qaeda leaders must wake up to the fact that "living in caves distorts the vision", and those who see in "cave-based jihad" a way to achieve change must realise they are not seeing clearly.

"Al Qaeda has killed thousands just to instill fear in its enemies," the paper said. "And the sooner that [terrorist ideology] disappears, the sooner we will be expanding bridges of understanding between one another."

A notable EU stance on Palestinian UN bid

The decision of the European Parliament last week to support the legitimacy of the Palestinian bid for full membership at the United Nations presents a remarkable boost to the diplomatic efforts exerted so far by the Palestinian Authority in that direction, the West Bank-based newspaper Al Quds said in its editorial yesterday.

"Such a favourable position, as embodied by European parliamentarians who effectively represent their respective nations across the European continent, confirms that European people are on the side of the Palestinians, despite the differences of opinion among some European leaders."

With this decision, Europe also re-embraces its time-honoured, balanced stance in favour of international legitimacy and the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. For some time now Europe kept a low profile on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict even though it could play a determining role in resolving it, the newspaper said.

The EU's call on all its member states to take "a unified stance" regarding the Palestinian bid for full UN membership is also worthy of note. It has the potential to level roadblocks laid by "some European leaders in a manner that breaks with Europe's traditionally balanced attitude" to the Palestinian cause.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi