x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Hizbollah has lost face, and stature

Editorials and columns in Arabic-language newspapers comment on the impact of Hizbollah's support of the Syrian regime, and also on US retreats in Iraq and Afghanistan, a political solution in Libya and a return to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority

Syria and Hizbollah: who left whom?

Since it first started operating in 1982, Hizbollah's mission was easy: to fight Israel, observed the columnist Abdulrahman al Rashed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

This mission earned Hizbollah respect from the Arabs, money from the Iranians and local power. But today the party is desperate, with many enemies, the least of which is Israel. More than half of the Lebanese and the majority of Arabs are against Hizbollah.

"But Hizbollah's most menacing threat came from the most unexpected of places, from Syria, its long-time ally and rock. The overwhelming popular uprising in Syria is brandishing anti-Hizbollah slogans and accuses it of aiding the regime in oppressing and killing protesters."

Suspicion about the relationship between Syria's security regime and Hizbollah's militia was heightened with a recent Le Figaro article saying Hizbollah has moved its weapons from Syria to Lebanon, as it fears the fall of the Syrian regime.

It is highly unlikely that Hizbollah would dare make such a move. But whether the Syrian regime survives or is toppled, Hizbollah has become besieged within Lebanon.

"In the absence of its Syrian geographic and political backup, Hizbollah finds itself orphaned. It must now, like all other Lebanese factions, look for a solution that isn't based on weapons."

 

US wars: one defeat after the other

If Col Muammar Qaddafi rules half of Tripoli, the Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, rules no more than half of Kabul, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

Indications of defeat loom on the US horizon. Most recently the US secretary of state called for negotiations with the Taliban, as Hillary Clinton realised that there is no circumventing the Taliban to end the crisis.

But the victorious Taliban is declining negotiation offers before the withdrawal of Nato and US forces.

"In light of this scenario, it isn't inaccurate to suggest that US President Barack Obama's announcement of his intention to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year is yet another sign of defeat."

Arab revolutions may have overshadowed the developments in Afghanistan in recent months, but Taliban rebels have been expanding their control and fighting off Nato forces throughout the country. In the meantime, the series of US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, achieved nothing but one defeat after the other.

The US has no future in Iraq or Afghanistan. Just as the Iraqis will be able to govern themselves with time, the Taliban will rule Afghanistan and the unlawful US wars of the past decade will have been fought in vain.

 

A political solution looms in Libya

Four months into the military confrontation, the situation in Libya seems to be heading towards a stalemate, commented the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi.

The military stalemate on battlefronts should lead to political solutions which so far have been completely out of the question in Libya, with each of the parties insisting on a full set of demands.

The protesters demanded the departure of the Libyan leader and his family members as a precondition to any compromise, while the colonel insisted on staying in Libya until the last moment.

"There are indications that the protesters and their transitional council are starting to show some openness to a political solution, with statements confirming direct communications with government representatives in Tripoli."

This transformation is due to a number of factors: the division among Nato member states taking part in the military operations, popular pressure on the US president, Barack Obama, to cease any US role in the military operations in Libya and the rising discord among the rebels themselves.

"The coming weeks may witness a move into direct negotiations between the insurgents and the regime as the growing conviction is that a military solution for the Libyan crisis is unlikely and a political solution would be the best option."

 

A safe exit may see a return to negotiations

The closer September gets, the tighter the pressure on Palestinian, international and Israeli officials, wrote the columnist Hussam Kanafani in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej. The Palestinian Authority fears defeat of a motion for independence at the UN, while the US and EU want to avoid embarrassment, and Israel worries about losing the legitimacy of settlements and a possible internal uprising.

"Everyone is on alert and in a frantic search for viable exits, which justifies the active US and European diplomatic movements in Palestine."

It seems that the activity has produced a solution, to be revealed in the coming weeks. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has reportedly agreed to a withdrawal to the once "indefensible" 1967 lines.

For their part, the Palestinians came back with yet another concession, as a PA official announced a readiness to renounce the freeze of settlement activities as a precondition for negotiations.

"The search for an exit has got the parties to the starting line they seek, and a return to negotiations may be announced soon. They all need to avoid [a showdown in] September and come out of the predicament safe and with the least possible damage."

 

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem

rmakarem@thenational.ae