x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Moscow perspective on Russia emanates from spite to the West

Arabic newspapers comment on Putin's perspective on the Syrian crisis, how to beat GCC differences and Obama's Aipac speech.

Putin's perspective of the Syrian crisis derives more from spite to the West than anything else

Last week, while his presidential campaign was still in full swing, the returning president-elect of Russia penned an article that explained, with the utmost transparency, his views in matters of foreign affairs, namely the Syrian revolution.

In comment, the Saudi columnist Abdel Rahman Al Rashid wrote in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat: "It was a significant article that expresses the traditional Russian anti-western position. But in Syria, Mr Putin's take on the crisis doesn't hinge only on his competitiveness to western powers. In fact, he is also convinced that, if the regime were ousted, Syria would become a land of extremism that threatens Russia and the rest of the world."

The problem with the Syrian cause is that it lacks proper representation in major international forums. There is no official body to refute the misconceptions and wrongful conclusions surrounding the Syrian case. Mr Putin, for instance, believes that the problem in Syria lies in radical Islamic movements, which proves that Al Assad's official propaganda has in fact worked.

"The revolution against the Syrian regime isn't driven by religion. In fact, the regime never denied its citizens their religious rights. The problem of the 25 million Syrian citizens is that, for four decades, they have been living under a military, intelligential and oppressive regime," the writer added.

The Russians are frightened that the alternative to Al Assad's regime would be a radical religious group, which is likely should the Syrians be left an easy prey for Islamic Jihadists whose objective isn't to deliver Syria of the oppressive regime, but rather, to establish a radical system of rule.

In his opinion article, Mr Putin also emphasised the role of what he calls the "light force" referring to social media websites such as Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. He said that these are tools managed by foreign groups and that they were behind the Arab Spring revolutions. In his view, these forums are often used to instigate to extremism and separatism and to manipulate public opinion and interfere directly in the internal affairs of sovereign states.

In fact, this concept ignores two essential truths: on one hand, social communication technologies have automatically become mediums of expression for the opposition and on the other hand, the poor, unbearable conditions in the Arab world exploded through these media. These are two simple truths that have nothing to do with the conspiracy theory.

If Mr Putin is convinced that the uprising of the Syrian people is the result of a foreign plot then it is only natural that he would use the veto at the UN. But, if this is the case, why didn't these foreign forces fully support the revolution and bring Al Assad's regime down?

GCC states must beat the small differences

If security coordination between the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is key, and if unison in their political approaches is crucial, it remains of even more important for them to consolidate their financial, monetary and economic sectors, wrote columnist Hashem Abdo Hashem in yesterday's edition of the Saudi newspaper Okaz.

That must be the point of focus "if we want to make a more rapid transition into a Gulf Federation, 30 years after the establishment of the GCC," the Saudi columnist said.

Gulf nations are at "a sensitive crossroads" and they must make up their minds whether they really want to take their cooperation further or keep it where it is now.

Both the GCC ministerial meeting that was held this week in Riyadh, and the Jeddah Economic Forum that is still ongoing, highlight the importance of "concentrating on the economy in building the Gulf Federation", the columnist noted, stressing that the Gulf Federation is a matter of priority.

"We mustn't get stuck on such questions as the location of the [GCC] Central Bank or disparities in custom tariffs," the columnist said.

The UAE was the second nation - after Oman - to withdraw from a GCC single currency plan after its bid to host the bloc's Central Bank in Abu Dhabi was rejected.

"Current challenges must overshadow small differences."

Obama's Aipac speech was too 'obsequious'

The speech that the United States president Barack Obama delivered on Sunday at Aipac, the American institution representing the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, was "disappointing" and predominantly "obsequious", according to an editorial carried in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi yesterday.

Mr Obama went through the whole list of "favours" he did to Israel since he came into office, the paper said, from his resistance to the findings of the famous Goldstone report - which found Israel guilty of war crimes - to his efforts to block the Palestinian bid for statehood.

"What's more, in a speech that lasted more than half an hour, Mr Obama did not use the phrase 'settlement in occupied territories', as the main reason for the failure of the peace process," the paper added.

Worse still, he blamed that failure on everything else: current democratic changes rippling through the region, Palestinian divisions and Hamas's refusal to recognise Israel's right to exist.

"Mr Obama preferred to go on a litany about how holy Israel's security is to him and to his administration," the paper said.

Yet even that sycophancy will not be enough to satisfy Israel, because all Tel Aviv wants these days is to get a public endorsement from the US to attack Iran.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk