x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Iraq's Syria problem

Iraq's Maliki has no choice but to support Assad in suppressing Syria's revolution, an Arabic language columnist writes in today's roundup of regional opinion. Other topics: US drones keep killing civilians, and Palestinian victory at the UN.

Iraq's Maliki has no choice but to support Assad in suppressing Syria's revolution

The relationship between the ruling regime in Iraq and the Assad regime in Syria calls for deep inspection. It is a matter of critical importance in terms of the survival - or the disintegration - of the tyrant Syrian leadership, suggested the Egyptian journalist Imadeddine Adib in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Iraqi air-traffic lanes and its border roads adjacent to the Syrian territories have become the main channels for the transport of weapons and ammunitions feeding the Syrian regime's war of terror on the opposition.

The Iraqi-Syrian weapon corridors have indeed gained in significance following the Turkish government's decision to inspect any civilian planes that fly over its territories into neighbouring Syria. Ankara intensified its preventive measures by imposing strict surveillance on its common borders with Syria.

What mediums remain to transport weapon shipments to the regime in Damascus then? asked the writer.

Russia, Mr Assad's greatest ally, has no other gateway to Syria but through its maritime base in the coastal city of Tartous on the Mediterranean Sea. As for Iran, it has to circumvent strict interception and inspection measures on its vessels at sea.

"Thus, Iraq's air space and its territories are the main alleys for Iranian weapons to find their way into the hands of the Syrian regime," said the writer.

There, it is supported by the unabated statements of Nouri Al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, who said that his regime doesn't have the means or the capabilities to prevent the transport of Iranian weapon shipments into Syria.

"It is a well-known fact that Iraq nowadays is an Iranian reserve and Mr Al Maliki is a loyal ally to Tehran. For years, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been diligently working on holding a sway over Iraq's internal affairs," he added.

Mr Al Maliki's regime in Baghdad may pretend that it maintains good relations with Washington, but in truth, it gives its relationship with Iran top priority. "Mr Al Maliki couldn't disobey Iran's command even if he wanted to," observed the writer.

Mr Al Maliki's sectarian and pro-Iranian regime has no interest in the rise of an Islamic Sunni reformative or revolutionary system of rule in its vicinity. That is the life or death battle in which a minority regime and another sectarian regime wager on the present and the future.

Mr Al Maliki's administration couldn't possibly tolerate the likelihood of a triumphant revolution in Syria. Their greatest fear is that such a victory would inevitably and gradually reverberate through Iraq.

Iraq is thirsty for reform and natural change that the US occupation failed to realise, but rather substituted Saddam's dictatorship with sectarian despotism.

'Blind' US drones keep killing civilians

The United States is increasingly relying on drones to hunt down Al Qaeda operatives or "rebel fighters" in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with persistent disregard for the innocent civilians who are killed in the process, wrote columnist Mazen Hammad in yesterday's edition of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

"These remote-controlled, unmanned aircrafts are pretty much blind missile launchers that do not kill their targets alone, but also reduce large numbers of civilians in the surrounding area into shreds," the columnist said.

Calls from human rights organisations on Washington to halt its CIA-operated drone attacks keep falling on deaf ears.

"These organisations accuse the US administration, which actually covers up many of those operations, of violating international human rights laws."

Sure, the US administration is currently elaborating a set of guidelines that would specify situations in which the use of drones would be authorised.

But, as the head of the American Civil Liberties Institute rightly pointed out recently, the very effort to elaborate these guidelines shows just how much randomness and imprecision has been involved in these operations.

While there is the likeness of a debate in Washington about the ethical and technological merits of drones, real action to protect innocent civilians is still unattainable, the writer said in conclusion.

UN statehood vote was a step forward

The United Nations General Assembly voted to accept Palestine as a non-member observer state, despite opposition from the US, Israel and their allies - an achievement that prompted cheerful celebrations among Palestinians, particularly that it came after a ground victory by the resistance in Gaza, wrote Barakat Shlatweh in an opinion article in the Sharjah-based paper Al Khaleej.

"This achievement is a cause for celebration. But it must not be seen as the end of the occupation," the writer noted.

The address by Palestinian President, Mr Mahmoud Abbas, drove Israel and the US into a corner and put the world conscious to the test, he said. The statement by Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, was bad-mannered. She showed her anger against the dream of Palestinians, saying nothing would change the reality.

Yet Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip that was the target of the latest Israeli aggression, spontaneously hit the streets to celebrate the feat.

What is important now for Palestinians is to continue their march. The UN recognition should only be a step within an integrated national plan to build a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and with the return of all refugees.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk