x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Iran running out of patience with Syria

Arabic editorials also discuss Palestinian statehood and ElBaradei's vision for Egypt.

Iran seeks alternatives as Syria worsens

"Even Iran itself cannot tolerate what is happening in Syria any longer, and is openly expressing its reservations towards the conduct of President Bashar Al Assad who has been providing one proof after another of his proficiency in losing allies," wrote columnist Satea Noureddine in the Lebanese daily Assafir daily.

Recent statements by top Iranian officials imply that the Syrian crisis has put Tehran on high alert, politically and militarily.

Tehran seems to be following Turkey, which has already formed a special operations room to prepare for the post-Assad era, after Turkey's leaders despaired of swaying the Syrian regime from its suicidal course.

"Tehran hasn't reach the point of despair yet, but the signals it is sending out publicly now are truly astounding, underlining the gravity of the Syrian situation."

Since the start of the uprising five months ago, Iran has been offering all possible assistance to its ally.

But now Iran must entertain the possibility that its chances to save the Syrian regime are thin and it is time to look for an alternative. Recent reports suggest Iran has been in touch with the Syrian external opposition.

"Nonetheless, Tehran isn't expected to drop its ally any time soon; it will fight by its side till the last minute, although it knows that no one has ever come back from a suicidal operation."



Palestinian statehood project may not work

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in the Caribbean, became the 126th country to recognise the state of Palestine and to have its flag raised at the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah, columnist Hussam Kanafani noted in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

The number of countries in favour is large, but not sufficient for the anticipated recognition project, due to be set in motion during this month's UN General Assembly session. The Palestinian foreign minister says President Abbas will be filing his request on September 20.

"A short period of time separates Palestinians from the awaited date; a short period [for anyone] to attempt to sway the Palestinians from going to the UN through a reasonable offer to resume negotiations, especially since only two additional votes would secure recognition, that is if there is a way to circumvent the Security Council and go directly to the General Assembly."

Attempts to reanimate negotiations are hopeless. The EU foreign minister, Catherine Ashton, recently said in Ramallah that the door to negotiations is still closed, which means her efforts were in vain. And as the US is reticent to exert pressure except on the Palestinians, going to the UN is the only option available.

However, even this option is still unclear, especially in that circumventing the Security Council, where the US veto lurks, would be tricky.

ElBaradei's warnings must be heeded

Egyptian presidential hopeful Mohammed ElBaradei, the former head of the UN Atomic Agency, warned recently that Egypt is on the brink of explosion and he fears that a second uprising would not be as peaceful as the first one, columnist Mazen Hammad wrote in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

"Mr ElBaradei does not trifle with words," the columnist commented. "His statements must be taken seriously."

Mr ElBaradei spoke of the necessity to spread Egyptian control over Sinai through a national development project to integrate the people of the region. He criticised the Military Council for condoning Mubarak-era officials, which undermines the Council's credibility.

"When Mr ElBaradei enumerates Egypt's troubles, it seems that everything needs reform and change, from the amendment of the constitution to inherent rights, the identity of the state, the form of the political regime, the prerogatives of the president and the independence of the judicial and economic systems."

Surveys reveal that Mr ElBaradei heads the list of presidential contenders. The youth of the revolution and the main political parties would be advised to strengthen their ties with the man.

"Mr ElBaradei's statements are invaluable," the writer said. "His statements prove that this Egyptian politician has the democratic vision that is needed in Egypt."

Netanyahu ploy seeks to relieve pressure

The editorial in the Emirati daily Al Bayan commented on reports that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has recently consulted an Israeli expert about the borders of the Palestinian state. "It was a mere bid to alleviate the increasing international pressure that accuses him of obstructing the political process," the editorial said.

At the moment, Israelis and Palestinians are preparing for an imminent confrontation at the United Nations General Assembly, when the PA files a request for recognition of statehood.

Israel realises that the international situation is not in its favour. It is becoming more difficult for Israel to justify it positions, especially its refusal to freeze settlement building.

Mr Netanyahu's plan aims to relieve the pressure, but it doesn't propose a solution. His strategy for the post-statehood period is to empty the statehood concept of context and to impose his vision for the state-to-be through unilateral measures.

The territories under Israeli control aren't Israeli. They are unlawfully occupied. And the establishment of a Palestinian state remains the people's biggest ambition, as the culmination of decades of struggle. A sovereign state would gives them back their national and human dignity.


* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem