x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Iraq may soon face confrontation with Iran

Iraqis are inching closer to the point of no-return. Other topics include Syria and Egypt.

Iraqis are inching closer to the point of no-return, wrote the columnist George Semaan in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

Calls for dialogue among various Iraqi factions to find solutions for their internal crises, at least to immunise them to the war in Syria, proved futile. The factions proceeded to form their own army since, in their opinion, the government forces have become occupying forces.

Last Friday, imams called for Jihad to drive the occupiers out of Sunni districts. In response, Shiite officials warned against dragging the country along slippery slopes and, in an alarming development, Kurdish forces were deployed in the vicinity of the contested town of Karkouk to fill the security void.

"In light of such complications at present in Iraq, it has become unfathomable to call for a comprehensive understanding or a radical solution for the political crisis that has been festering for nearly two years," the writer said. "Had the solution been available or had the conflicting parties been open to mutual concessions, they wouldn't have come to the edge of the abyss in the first place," he added.

Addressing the dwindling security issue must take precedence at this point. Exchanging accusations is useless, especially since all parties involved are responsible one way or another, and the government shouldn't shoulder all the blame on its own.

"All parties are responsible because they raised the ceiling of their demands too high. Each party climbed to the top of its tree and sat there waiting for help to get down, which, in the absence of dialogue, widened the gap even more," the writer opined.

As legitimate as the demands to the government are, none of them have a solution. Some are unconstitutional and others require decisions from parliament. But prime minister Nouri Al Maliki is compounding the matter by ignoring the political powers' calls for dialogue.

Since the beginning of the crisis, Mr Al Maliki pushed his opponents into aligning themselves in one large opposition camp that accuses him of power-grabbing at the risk of stoking a sectarian war.

"Iraqis should have opted for the principle of power rotation," suggested the writer. "A few days ago, Mr Al Maliki said that sectarianism is an evil that crosses borders without authorisation. But he may have forgotten that his mismanagement of the political crisis exacerbated the Sunnis' feelings of injustice."

His public opposition to the Syrian revolution rallied the region's outraged Sunnis against him, especially as they are suffering from Iran's interventions from Baghdad to Beirut.

Iraq's situation is now a part of the Syrian inferno that suggests that the region may soon witness a serious escalation with Iran and indicates that new maps for the region are in the making.

Could Al Assad stay in power until next year?

By using chemical weapons, the Assad regime has crossed the red line drawn by the US president. Yet, the US administration is still hesitant and confused, wrote Tariq Al Homayed in yesterday's edition of the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

Mr Obama is reported to have said that he needs to be fully certain that Mr Al Assad has used chemical weapons, despite confirmation from the UK, France and Israel, the writer noted.

What makes Hizbollah get involved in defending Mr Al Assad while there is every indication that he will lose? The writer asked this question to a senior Arab official, who replied: "Hizbollah, and Al Assad's supporters at large, believe that an agreement transcending Arabs lies ahead, which would result in the regime's survival even if Bashar Al Assad himself fell."

Despite talks about chemical weapons, Mr Obama is set to meet his Russian counterpart soon, the writer said. Mr Obama is seeking the easiest of solutions to the conflict: he is planning to wait until the Syrian elections, due in 2014, according to the author.

Waiting until next elections means imposing a political solution. In other words, the rebels have until then to win the battle without a real US intervention. Otherwise, the US will press Russia and Iran to accept elections without Mr Al Assad, which will mean that his regime has neither fallen, nor been overthrown.

Egypt without media will not solve problems

There is conviction among many pro-Islamist organisations that the media is the main cause of all Egypt's problems, and so if, for the sake of argument, the media disappeared, Egypt would be problem-free, wrote Emad Eddine Hussein in an article in the Cairo-based paper Al Shorouk.

"I used to believe that only some 'brainwashed' supporters are under this illusion, but it seems the majority of people nurture such an illusion," the writer argued.

If all media outlets are shut down, except the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice newspaper and Misr 25 TV channel, will Egypt's woes disappear?

Of course not. The fuel crisis will not end because it has to do with lack of financial allocations and smuggling; security will not immediately be restored because it stems from the weakness of the police. Also, what do the media have to do with theft, kidnapping and thuggery?

If the media disappeared, tourism won't blossom because it needs stability and affirmation from Islamists that they won't target it; social protest won't stop unless radical reforms are introduced. Protestst will also not cease without the media.

The media reports news, it does not invent it. In any case of deliberate misreporting, one can seek justice in court.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk