x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Morocco must mend ties with Gulf states

Arabic language editorials also comment on the Sinai attacks and Mitt Romney's visit to Israel.

As Europe remains mired in crisis, it is high time for Morocco to return to the East

Since the death of King Hassan II, Morocco has turned its back on the East and focused entirely on the West, precisely France, which has become almost the sole destination for the ruling elite, argued Taoufik Bouachrine in an article posted on the Moroccan news website Febrayer.

"This was one of the gravest mistakes made by the new elite," the writer said, adding it was "due to inexperience and failure to understand the Orient and its complexities and cultural specificities, notably the Gulf".

The Gulf States have huge reserves of oil and gas, sizeable liquidity and giant sovereign wealth funds. This allows them to build strong relations with many countries and diplomatic milieus across the world - a world that speaks only one language today: interests.

The Moroccan embassy in Saudi Arabia hit a record in the number of years with no ambassador, as though there was a rupture between the two countries.

The UAE-Moroccan joint higher committee is supposed to convene every two years but has not convened since 2006. Relations with Kuwait are minimal and Morocco has not taken part - on the level of presidency - in the Arab Summit in Kuwait, and other important events such as the 50th anniversary of its independence.

As far as Qatar is concerned, the policymakers in Morocco still mix up their reservations about Al Jazeera's editorial policy and conomic interests with this country.

"A deep crisis is looming over Morocco," he warned. "It needs to use all political and diplomatic cards to buffer the crisis. And Europe will not pay heed to us, at least in the five years to come, being mired in difficulties."

Morocco has many trump cards to play in the Gulf, especially in these times of crises. First, comes the card of "emotional, cultural and historical closeness between Sunni Arab Islamic countries".

Second, they all coalesced into the "axis of moderation", in accord with US and Europe. Their stances and visions to the issues of the region and the world are almost identical.

Third, Morocco's open economic fabric offers the Gulf's investments vast opportunities for growth, especially as the Gulf oil capital has become apprehensive of the West's intentions because of the events of September 2011.

Fourth, comes the card of the Moroccan model that seeks to adjust to the Arab Spring, having hitherto succeeded in maintaining stability while enforcing reform. And the major Gulf states have displayed an interest in backing this model, being worried about the fundamentalism sweeping the entire Arab world.

The Moroccan government is urgently duty-bound to study an active comeback to the Gulf, the writer said.

In the latest speech, the country's monarch highlighted the necessity for seeking new investments in the Arabian Gulf. That is already a good catalyst.

Sinai attack assists President Morsi

The attack on the Egyptian outpost in Sinai that killed 16 soldiers could be a turning point in the career of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood at large, commented the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial.

"Not only did the operation reveal a chaotic Sinai where hardline Islamist groups are concentrated, but also how strong the incumbent Egyptian president could be in taking tough and firm decisions," the editorial said.

Without this attack, Mr Morsi could not have made his bold decisions of dismissing, on Wednesday, Gen Murad Mowafi, Egypt's intelligence chief, and appointing new heads for the military police and presidential guard.

True, such decisions were made in coordination with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, but it is equally true that firing such leading figures from the Mubarak regime was not a pressing priority.

No doubt, officials at the helm of Egypt's security services are mostly accountable for the assault on the Rafah border crossing, and should pay the price of intelligence failure through trials, not sacking and retirement.

In any case, the attack turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Mr Morsi. It offered him a golden opportunity to clean the security services of the ancient regime remnants without clashing with the military council and security forces.

Romney woos Israel while Palestine in peril

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is engaged in political one-upmanship with his Democratic rival President Barack Obama over Israel, opined the UAE-based daily Al Khaleej in Thursday's editorial.

Mitt Romney's statement that "culture makes all the difference" is nonsensical, especially as Israel is pressing ahead with its settlement activities and thousands of Palestinian prisoners are still languishing in Israeli jails.

"Nobody gives a hoot about these prisoners, but if there was one single Israeli captive, Mr Romney and others like him, would turn the world upside down," the editorial said.

Mr Romney went to Israel "to submit his credentials before even Americans go to the polls". He is clearly not concerned about all sorts of horrors Palestine has been suffering for over six decades at the hands of Israel.

Is Mr Romney, a candidate for the presidency of a leading country that talks big about liberty, human rights and international legitimacy, not aware of what the Israeli occupation is committing around the clock? Both Mr Romney and President Obama have sided with the powerful lobbies.

To top it off, Mr Romney went all the way to Israel to say that "culture makes all the difference" - and what an ugly culture it is.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk