x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

As militants try to fulfil their mission, Iran continues to destabilise region

What Arab commentators are saying about the ambitions of ISIL in Iraq. Translated by Carla Mirza.

Instabilities seem to grow in the Middle East, where militant ­organisations have expanded their sphere of influence by force of arms, and are attempting to redesign borders.

Recent events are not coincidental, maintains Abdullah Al Baderkhan in an opinion piece for Al Ittihad, the sister newspaper of The National.

“The name itself – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – reflects ISIL’s project, one that seems to match the Iranian project or at least reflects long-term goals that the Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian regimes have in common”.

The argument, he wrote, “is not that both Bashar Al Assad and Nouri Al Maliki have marred their two countries, but that ‘Sunni terrorism’ is intent on defining the future of the Arab region and that ISIL (and its social incubator) wants to establish its own state – and this is where the division practically begins”.

“There is no wonder in seeing the Assad and Maliki regimes look into available ‘solutions’. As long as they have not initiated partitioning, they will have to deal with a given reality imposed by the terrorists – or, rather, one they have helped the terrorists impose. Should this state truly form, it will be used as a scarecrow by Iran and its allies to destabilise the region and redesign its borders,” the writer remarked.

This is happening on the eve of nuclear negotiations, which have reached a sensitive juncture.

“In any case, Iran continues to manipulate the course of events, changing realities and creating facts,” he added.

Iran is increasing pressure on the political side so as to obtain some flexibility on the nuclear talks. If it does not obtain such flexibility, it will double the difficulty of negotiations on the boundaries of its political and military influence in the region, concluded Baderkhan.

Meanwhile, Abdel Rahman Al Rashed, the former editor-in-chief of Asharq El Awsat, asked: “Does Iran have tremendous capacity to continue and can it bear the human and financial haemorrhage caused by its adventures in both Syria and Iraq?

“This first depends on the Iraqi-Iranian conflict, its size and the length of time it takes. Secondly, this will depend on the intentions of the Iranian leadership and whether it considers the chaos across the border as an opportunity to control,” he opined.

“I think this would provoke Iraqis of different sects and the historic conflict between the two neighbours would rise again.”

While dividing the remains of the Ottoman Empire into countries, the British diplomat Mark Sykes and his French counterpart François Georges-Picot were proud to have built an “eternal scaffold” which, as fragile as it may have often seemed, still stood tall come what may, observed Christian Merville in the Lebanese French-language daily L’Orient Le Jour.

It took a few hordes of fanatics to threaten its foundations, he wrote.

“Just like nature, nations abhor a vacuum, especially when it tends to drag on. The upheavals of recent years, which have swept aside plagued regimes, shouted out a call that remains unanswered. Iranians, Saudis, Turks and Qataris have not resisted the temptation to meddle in what they consider an impending and latent threat. Each of them is now in a peculiar position, allied to an opponent they fought elsewhere or opposed to an old friend.

“Furthermore, the United States – which waged war on Arab land in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 – now refuses to clean up the mess it left behind,” concluded Merville.

Translated by Carla Mirza