x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Iraq's security should be an internal issue, says an Arabic newspaper.

Arab newspapers discuss Egyptian protesters' threat to block the Suez Canal, Lebanese conflict with Israel over oil and Qaddafi's contact with Israel.

Egyptian protesters found a new tactic

"Last Sunday gunshots were heard again, but this time fired in the air to disperse protesters who came in hundreds, threatening to block the Suez Canal," wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed in a commentary for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The Egyptian military could not have expected threats from the people to close the main strategic waterway in the region. The canal has been the cause of three regional wars, and now is an important source of income for Egypt. The most recent statistics say it generates $500 million (Dh1.84 billion) per month - at a time when revenues from tourism and industry have dropped sharply.

Apparently the angry youth decided to change tactics after realising that rallying in Tahrir Square is no longer effective. By doing this, they hoped to put more pressure not only on their own government but also on foreign countries.

This may lead to two complications. First, major powers might exert pressure on the military council to meet the protesters' demands, in a bid to avoid an international crisis. Second, the worse scenario, they might ask the council to quell the youth rebellion and start a new phase.

It was smart of the young Egyptians to find this way to energise their demands, yet it is risky too. So far they have failed to transform their movement into a party, and their popularity is declining steadily compared to that of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel would like to trap Lebanon on oil

Lebanon needed no additional reasons to perpetuate the conflict with Israel, noted Satea Noureddine in an opinion piece for the Lebanese daily Assafir.

Israel opted for opening a new front of conflict when it insisted on its sovereignty over offshore oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean. This time Israel does not want to launch a new war, but to force Lebanon to agree on a treaty to formulate an agreement on sharing this wealth.

When Israelis discovered oil and gas there, they highlighted the fact that those fields extend into the territorial waters of Lebanon. They could have hidden this geographical truth, or ignored it altogether.

As soon as Israel discovered this oil and gas, it announced that Lebanon has some rights in the field. This seems suspicious.

This move could not be attributed to a conscious show of respect for Lebanon, or an Israeli attitude that is compliant with international law. Nor was it due to an arrangement with the US company Nobel Energy, which did the exploring.

The recognised Lebanese quota is marginal, in comparison to Israel's, which will make it the fourth world producer after Russia, Iran and Qatar.

Israel will indirectly force Lebanon to seek international arbitration, which might last years, about the maritime border.

Meanwhile, Israel will continue exploiting and exporting the Mediterranean's wealth.

Qaddafi's ridiculous contact with Israel

Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was short of solutions when he sent representatives to Israel to polish the image of his regime, in conflict with his known slogans, noted the Emirati newspaper Akhbar al Arab in its editorial.

Would it not have been better for him to have approached Washington and pledged that he is ready to change the image of his country. Apparently he thought that a way to save his regime would be through Israel.

Certainly Israel should have welcomed this visit. Yet it may be thinking what to do with such a battered leader as Col Qaddafi. Israel will principally look into possible gains in establishing relations with a regime with no legitimacy at all.

Nor will Libyans accept his son, Saif El Islam, who is believed to have arranged this visit.

Israel is not able to save a regime, stripped of all forms of legality, against which Libyans have revolted. Meanwhile the National Transitional Council leads the national movement and has earned international recognition as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

Counting on Israel is absurd. He should rather address Libyans to save the country from further destruction and foreign intervention. He should look at examples of leaders such as Nelson Mandela - although there is a big difference between the two - who chose to give up power in the best interest of his country.


Iraq's security should be an internal issue

With the US withdrawal from Iraq scheduled for the end of this year, there are intensified efforts to conclude an agreement among various political blocs.

Many Iraqis believe the result will show whether Iraqis have truly overcome occupation, the UAE newspaper Al Bayan argued in its editorial.

Many Iraqis are still pessimistic about the future of their country. They particularly put into question the high price they have paid in return for the democracy project the US was advocating.

After years of occupation, the economic, security and political situation in Iraq is still bad, raising concern about national unity.

Many politicians are calling for a political system based on a federation and multiple sources of decision-making.

The US is likely to leave behind a weak and divided government. On the security level, attacks still rock Iraqi streets almost daily, raising concerns about the return of insurgent operations.

"Nevertheless, the US withdrawal is necessary and is a good step provided that Iraqi forces can fill the security vacuum and prevent foreign intervention …

"Security should be an internal issue for Iraqis."





* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi