x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Letting Syria be a battlefield for Hizbollah and Al Qaeda can backfire

The extremist groups will not wipe each other out, an Arabic-language writer says. Other topics: Libya and the UAE-Egyptian relationship.

An American commentator has been reported as saying that it is good for the US that Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old war continues so that Hizbollah and Al Qaeda kill each other, which will lead to the US getting rid of two of its arch enemies.

This argument, commented Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, is flawed and might well backfire.

Certainly Syria has turned into a fly trap for extremist groups from around the world. One might be tempted to see it as a good way to get rid of all hardliners who can destroy each other and spare the world that mission. Yet this is risky business.

This is because the Syrian conflict might offer extremists a ground to gain more supporters and enhance their regional war-fighting capabilities, the writer cautioned.

There is a major difference between religious wars such as the one in Syria and the gang wars that occur in places like Colombia or Los Angeles.

Al Qaeda is an ideological, religious organisation, and so is Hizbollah. Both thrived on a series of confrontations in which they were involved.

Although Al Qaeda had lost most of its top leaders, it has expanded because it has used its defeats – and victories as well – to promote its extremist ideology.

Letting Syria be an open battlefield is a grave mistake that will allow extremists to grow and acquire more experience.

Aware of the role of radical organisations in instilling fear in the West, the regimes in Iran and Syria have used Al Qaeda in Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabia in the same way they have used Hizbollah: to carry out suicide operations and proxy wars since the 1980s.

The Syrian conflict has drawn a frightening number of recruits and allowed Al Qaeda to be back with a vengeance, as it pretends to defend the persecuted Syrian people.

The Syrian regime does not mind the presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. It knew that these would commit the most appalling atrocities, allowing the regime to seem like a better option.

The Syrian conflict has also earned Hizbollah a new role, political and military, and for which it is being paid. Hizbollah can make up for any losses, even if it loses thousands of fighters.

It is wrong to strike analogies between drug gangs and extremist groups to come up with the notion that the latter will destroy each other to the benefit of the world.

Radical groups can fight each other and coexist for another 10 years in Syria, from which they could eventually depart to wreak havoc on the countries of the region and the world, as Al Qaeda did when it carried out terrorist operations in East Africa and then in the US on September 11.

Egyptian PM’s visit enshrines UAE ties

The visit by the Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawi to the UAE last week, his first official trip since he took office, reflects the exceptional relationship between the UAE and Egypt, the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan said its editorial on Sunday.

“Egypt didn’t forget those who stood by it in its time of need when the Muslim Brotherhood group tried to hold the country hostage with its marginalisation policies and its narrow interests,” the paper said.

Despite the Brotherhood’s preparedness to throw away a long and rich history of bilateral relations between Egyptians and Emiratis, the UAE’s stance on Egypt was primarily strategic and based on the interests of this great Arab nation.

During their short stint in power, the Islamist group tried to sabotage relations within the region as a way to create destructive alliances.

Fortunately, the Egyptian people, with their solid state institutions, were able to stop them before it was too late, it said.

Mr El Beblawi’s visit wasn’t merely an expression of gratitude. It was a candid manifestation of the firm ties that bring the two countries together. It further entrenches the solidarity between Cairo and Abu Dhabi.

Experience shows that the centres of stability in the Arab World guarantee the interests of all Arabs and protect the entire Arab world from any political storms and fluctuations.

Libya is mired within post-revolution chaos

Two years have gone by since Libya’s dictator Colonel Muammar Al Qaddafi was overthrown, but little has changed in Libya.

In its editorial on Sunday, the London-based paper Al Quds Al Arabi said the country’s future seems grim amid escalating political conflicts and reports forewarning of a looming civil war.

There are dozens of armed militias, including 225,000 fighters that were rebels during the revolution. They take orders only from their direct leaders and reject any campaigns to recruit them into the ranks of the security forces.

The profusion of militias has created conflict within the government and has attracted Al Qaeda-affiliated groups that reside in the country’s south.

Weapons and extremist groups have gone into neighbouring Tunisia, where skirmishes with security forces have led to protests and turmoil.

“It is hard for anyone to determine a starting point for reforming the situation in Libya. International institutions such as the UN suggest that foreign intervention is required to assist the government to impose its control.

“But they also believe that Libya needs the emergence of a historic figure that would be capable of reuniting the people. Nothing in the present horizon suggests that either solution is possible,” the paper noted.

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk