x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Arabic comment piece on al Qa'eda's new leader

Editorials in Arabic newspapers also address dialogue in Libya, contradictory statements by Israel's prime minister and US defamation of its own experts.

Al Qa'eda's era must end with Arab Spring

In a comment on news of the appointment of Ayman al Zawahri as the new leader of al Qa'eda following Osama bin Laden's death, the columnist Jihad al Khazen wrote in Al Hayat daily that bin Laden was a terrorist and his successor is a more skilled terrorist.

Al Zawahri has been a terrorist ever since the world heard of him for the first time. He was arrested and jailed for three years on the charge of detention of a firearm after the assassination of the Egyptian president Anwar al Sadat. He walked out from prison straight into terrorist action in Egypt against foreign tourists before leaving Egypt to join Osama bin Laden in 1998.

"The revolutions sweeping across the Arab world and especially Egypt have erupted for reasons known to all. Their only relationship to al Qa'eda is that they eliminated the need for terrorism. If Egypt's youth revolution has proved anything, it is that change can be achieved peacefully, without the need to kill Muslims and foreigners alike."

With accounts of al Zawahri being less charismatic than his former boss, it is likely that he would resort to a large-scale operation in an attempt to reanimate al Qa'eda following a series of hard blows it received since the killing of its founder.

"Al Zawahri is known to be more intelligent and more experienced in terrorism than his predecessor. Hunting him down will be a much harder task."


A dialogue to end the Libyan crisis

In a recent interview with an Italian newspaper, Seif el Islam Qaddafi, son of Libya's Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, announced that immediate elections are the only way out for Libya.

In a comment, the Dubai-based Al Bayan daily said in its editorial: "There was a communication between Tripoli and Benghazi followed by a proposal for general elections. These are good and necessary steps to end the crisis, had they been proposed in due time. But, alas, they came late."

These proposals for dialogue and democracy were destined for failure from the start, This is for two main reasons. Firstly, there is a total absence of confidence between the regime and the people, especially the rebels. Secondly, the proposals were ill-timed and therefore out of context. It was obvious that the rebels would reject them.

In four months, Col Qaddafi's ruling regime hasn't offered a single sign of goodwill. Even this latest offer for elections wasn't announced by the colonel himself or any of his officials, but by Seif el Islam who holds no official position in the country.

"However, signals coming from the West are calling for dialogue. and the rebels would be advised to seize the opportunity."

Dialogue is a viable option to end the ongoing crisis. To deal with it negatively may have serious repercussions on the entire cause.


Contradictory talk from the Israeli PM

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the king of contradictions and the most controversial of politicians, observed the columnist Mazen Hammad in an article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

He announced the demise of the peace process and then called on the Palestinians to refrain from declaring a state at the UN general assembly next September.

In light of the US president's obvious fear of confronting Mr Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister has much fertile soil for his plans. Mr Obama believes that his political future lies only in the Israeli prime minister's hands. This encourages Mr Netanyahu's ever-growing obstinacy.

He fears the outbreak of a third intifada in September and bloody confrontations in occupied territories influenced by Arab revolutions. At the same time, he spends most of his time lobbying with friendly nations to dissuade them from recognising the planned Palestinian state.

"Netanyahu closed the door to negotiations with the Palestinians at a time when it should have been opened wide amid a wave of Arab revolutions. He refuses to halt settlement building while at the same time he rejects any possibility for a return to negotiations.

As for Palestinians, they can either acquiesce to his unreasonable will or simply bang their heads against the wall.


The US defames its own experts

A former top CIA official detonated a political bombshell this week when he revealed that the George W Bush administration asked the CIA to dig up negative information about the personal life of famed US historian and Michigan University professor Juan Cole to discredit his views on the Iraq war.

"It isn't unprecedented that US administrations resort to such lowly methods against their rivals especially in the Arab world," commented the London-based Al Quds al Arabi daily. "What is unprecedented, however, is that it works at defaming American university professors only because they dared to object to their policies and their wars out of respect for their country's best interests."

The question here is how many Arab figures were defamed by that administration at the height of the fierce US media campaign aimed at justifying US foreign politics.

"We are fully aware of neo-conservatives deceptions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify their invasion of the country. What we don't know is how many billions of dollars were dispensed to finance television networks and Arab newspapers to diffuse lies about the many Arabs who stood against that wrongful war."


* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem