x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Israeli strike would be unpredictably dangerous

If Israel ever did strike Iran, no man could predict the repercussions, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics today: Yemen, Libya, and the US rediscovery of Islamic parties.

War against Iran would be a messy affair

"We don't know yet if Israel is really going to wage war against Iran in two months, as senior officials in London were reported as saying … but what we do know for sure is that any such attack would be playing with fire," columnist Mazen Hammad said in Friday's edition of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

No hard evidence has emerged so far that proves Iran is capable of building a nuclear bomb, the writer said.

But the British are jumping the gun a little bit and already joining Israel and the United States in their efforts to hype up the Iran threat and prepare public opinion for the long-threatened strike against the country's nuclear facilities.

"And if [predictions] turn out to be true, and Israel indeed ends up striking Iran's nuclear facilities during the holiday season early next year, the world will be in for a crisis so volatile only God knows what its repercussions would be," the columnist said.

Iran has been discreet about its nuclear activities for years and has rejected western calls to stop its uranium-enrichment programme, a policy which earned it four batches of international sanctions.

The bottom line is that Tehran's repeated pledges to retaliate aggressively any attack against it should not be taken lightly.




Libya is slipping off the West's media radar

The western media is less interested in Libyan affairs these days, after news of the country and its National Transitional Council (NTC) had for months been front-page material in the lead-up to the ouster of Libya's dictator Muammar Qaddafi, noted the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi in an editorial this weekend.

"Libya-related news these days is relegated to the inside pages, if at all featured in print media," the paper said. And one of the main reasons for this decrease in interest is the end of Nato operations soon after the killing of Muammar Qaddafi and the fall of his regime.

Yet the picture is not exactly rosy in Libya right now, the newspaper added.

Abdurrahim Al Keib, Libya's appointed prime minister, is still in strenuous talks to form an interim government with a multitude of parties - including "a maze of armed militias" - that are staking claims to power.

"What's more, conflicting views have not yet come to a middle ground within the NTC regarding the nature of the system that is going to govern the country, especially between the Islamists and the secularists."

Mr Al Keib's is a colossal mission indeed, the newspaper went on, for "building a new system is harder a task than overthrowing an established one".


US will again embrace Islamic parties

Recent statements about Islam and Muslims by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, give one some reason to believe that "the ideological war" against Islam, declared by the former US president George W Bush, is coming to an end, columnist Mostafa Zein observed yesterday in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

Ms Clinton said recently that Washington is ready to enter relations with Islamic parties in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, the columnist noted.

"The truth is, relations between the US and Islamic movements are not new," he said. "In fact, they were entrenched in the 1960s and 1970s to counter the nationalist movement led by [Egypt's late president Gamal] Nasser and the other leftist parties that were pushing for pan-Arabism."

In the 1980s those relations reached the point of "a strategic, military and political alliance" to offset the Soviet Union and communism and defeat the Red Army in Afghanistan.

"In the context of the Cold War, Washington saw in Islamists - moderates or hardliners - suitable allies to combat … communist atheism," the writer said.

But later, with China and Russia's embrace of capitalism after the Cold War, that alliance made little sense for the Americans. So it fell apart. And only now, with new diplomatic opportunities opening up in the Arab region, does the US seek to mellow again to Islamic partners.

Yemen's Saleh must sign transition deal

The transition deal initiated by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) earlier this year - by virtue of which Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh would step down in exchange for immunity from prosecution - is Mr Saleh's last and best chance before the UN Security Council moves in with less tolerant measures, the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan stated in an editorial yesterday.

For months now, every time the Yemenis come close to agreeing on the terms of the GCC initiative, more blood is spilt on the streets, sending all parties back to square one. This also makes the protest leaders more reluctant to accept that Mr Saleh should get away with what they consider to be murder.

"The crisis in Yemen is different from those in other Arab countries," Al Bayan said. "The regime did not publicly reject the idea of giving up power, like other Arab regimes have done. Instead, it led the Yemeni people, the Arab mediators and the whole international community down one labyrinth after another."

If Mr Saleh keeps pretending to be willing to sign the deal simply to buy time, it may refresh his thoughts to know that the Yemen file will soon be before the UN Security Council, and the measures which will ensue will not be as convenient for his exit.


* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi