x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Iraqis long for some peace

The departure of US troops, like their arrival, may mean instability and bloodshed for Iraq, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics in our round-up: Syria sees more violence in Homs and an opposition alliance in Turkey; and Yemen, too, has no peace.

Iraqis must unite to overcome challenges

"Iraq has not mellowed over the decades, as it has been marked by conflicts, occupation and security chaos. The [internal] political situation has profound military and economic implications," wrote the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial.

Iraqis have long suffered the repercussions of successive wars, sieges and sanctions, which also spilt over to the region.

Now Iraqis are reviewing the outcome of the eight years of US occupation of their country, an intervention that overthrew the former regime. They are particularly interested in whether this costly invasion has qualitatively added any thing to their traumatic lives.

As the US prepares itself to pull out its troops in accordance with the security treaty with Iraq, an inventory of the last eight years revealed that the losses were much greater than the benefits. Iraqis had aspired to a new open era that would break with the past's disastrous adventures.

This time, people would like through the US withdrawal to grab a new chance to renew their hopes for a better future. Yet there is a fear of security escalation in the run-up to the departure of US forces. This would consequently further destabilise political life.

To avoid this, Iraqis need to join in efforts to overcome strife, and politicians are required to surmount their differences because a new Iraq should be established to end the US chapter.

Wave of violence in Syria's Homs alarming

As Rastan has experienced the fiercest raids and battles, the International Herald Tribune reported at length on the situation in Homs province, which includes the third biggest city in Syria, calling the situation there the harbingers of a civil war, commented Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

The Herald Tribune quoted protesters in Homs city as saying that deadly fighting was breaking out every few hours.

Citing unidentified eyewitnesses, US reporters also spoke of university-campus assassinations and said guns had been smuggled into the city, to be sold for $2,000 (Dh7,350) each.

Since the eruption of the uprising, Homs has been the city most active against the regime.

Residents said that the city has moved into a phase characterised by extreme violence.

Observers said that fighting is limited to Homs because most of the opposition forces elsewhere object to violence, which could be an excuse for the regime to step up its oppression measures.

US media added that the series of assassinations and growing sectarian sentiments could herald a bleak future for Homs.

Men were seen carrying arms strolling the city. But the most dramatic scenes of all were the string of assassinations that targeted university professors, academics and people collaborating with the regime.



Syrian council augurs new phase of violence

With the announcement of the Syrian opposition national council in Istanbul on Sunday, the crisis enters a new phase, more strenuous and more dangerous, said Ghassan Charbel, the editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

This conclusion is based on an analysis of the number and variety of groups that joined the opposition. The fact that the announcement came from Turkey, a close neighbour and former ally of Syria, is also important.

The council's statement defined its objectives: representation and support of the Syrian revolution aimed at overthrowing the entire regime and establishing a secular non-discriminating state.

"The statement shows that the council is clearly not interested in negotiating with the regime."

The Istanbul announcement may not have important or quick repercussions on the ground in Syria, but its external consequences will soon be felt. Many countries have been waiting for a unified strong stance on part of the opposition to go further in their support for comprehensive change in Syria.

If the national council is granted international recognition, it would be in a position to address the Arab League and the UN. This would enable it to demand the protection of the protesters under international law.

"This all presages more violence in Syria than what the world has seen in the past few months," the writer concluded.

Al Qaeda, Saleh make Yemen a battlefield

Out of fear of Al Qaeda's branch there, Americans see Yemen as an important country, opined Abdulrahman Al Rashid in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Two separate incidents made Yemen the focus of the world. Booby-trapped parcels were sent from Yemen to Detroit, then a Nigerian, who had been trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Yemen, boarded a plane with the intent of blowing it up over Chicago.

Al Qaeda operations in Yemen have been the subject of much scrutiny in the past two years, leading to two possibilities: either the Yemeni government is a covert accomplice and is turning a blind eye to the terrorist organisation's activity, or it's weak and incapable of controlling it.

When the anti-Saleh uprising started in Yemen, the regime showed signs of weakness.

"The conviction is that the Yemeni government has not been serious in confronting Al Qaeda in the last few years. But the question here is has the government been using the terrorist organisation for political leverage or does it truly fear it?" asked the writer.

The opposition and the government in Yemen accuse each other of supporting and abetting terrorism. For the citizens of Yemen, Mr Saleh is the problem, but for world powers, it is Al Qaeda. And that is Yemen's conundrum.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk