x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

No chair for the Palestinians

The US may not even have to use its veto to block recognition of statehood, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics today: Saleh nearing the end, US-Turkey ties, and Russia's mistakes in Syria.

There will be no chair for Palestine at the UN

Germany, Colombia and of course the US have already announced their opposition to the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN Security Council, Abdelrahman Al Rashed noted in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

The remaining member states, under pressure from both sides, are still undecided about this most important of battles at the UN. A Security Council vote may be forestalled but it if does proceed, the US veto will have the final word.

"As easy as a veto seems, the US government doesn't want matters to get to that embarrassing end, and it has been making every effort to sway one more state to reject the Palestinian scheme altogether." Bosnia, Nigeria and Gabon have yet to decide where their best interests lie.

"We are not disillusioned. We know that the dream of statehood will not become a reality, whether for lack of support or by a US veto. Nonetheless, this remains an important showdown that brings into the light the reality that the majority of the international community endorses the establishment of a Palestinian state."

The Obama administration risks going down in history as the country that deprived the Palestinians of their state.

Meanwhile the UN General Assembly, where 116 out of 193 states support the Palestinian cause, will become the scene of an international display of power that will surely increase American and Israeli embarrassment.

Why can't Yemen get rid of unwanted Saleh?

Nine months after the start of the uprising, and four months after his departure to Saudi Arabia for treatment, the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is still in power, columnist Mazen Hammad noted in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

Only last week, as the reactivation of the GCC initiative was under discussion, pro-regime forces executed a bloody assault on pro-democracy protesters in Sanaa.

"Yemen is on the verge of eruption, with frustration starting to set in among so-far-peaceful change-seekers," he wrote. "Some are already calling for international interference."

The people of Yemen despairingly wonder why revolutions elsewhere were successful in toppling three tyrants, while no reasonable plans were made to oust Mr Saleh, especially since his stay in Saudi has offered a window of opportunity.

Experts say the recent turn of events in Sanaa will force the president to stop his evasive manoeuvres and prove his intention to transfer power to his deputy.

Should Yemen's crisis become chronic, the repercussions would be devastating. Mr Saleh is surely aware of the dark fate that awaits his country if the situation deteriorates. More importantly, the international community must cease dealing with the president as an ally in the war on Al Qaeda.

"Mr Saleh has lost the support of his people and his war on Al Qaeda is doomed to failure," the writer concluded.

Where US and Turkish interests converge

US strategists see the anticipated meeting between President Barack Obama and Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as the highlight of the diplomatic meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, columnist Rajeh el Khouri observed in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

US news reports suggest that Washington seems inclined to appoint Mr Erdogan as its certified agent in the Middle East.

"It is no secret that the US and Turkish interests in this region converge at the moment," he wrote.

"While Ankara practices its 'zero problems' policy as a prelude to a modernised Ottoman role in the Middle East, America's eyes, and the West's, turn to Turkey as the most viable model for pacific relationships between East and West."

But the Middle East isn't without other influential players. Mr Obama is aware that his guest cajoles Iran on one side and challenges Israel on the other.

Any US wager on him will depend, then, on a return of warmth to Turkey's relations with Israel, on one hand, and on a new chill in its dealings with Iran on the other.

Turkey, however, aware of its growing power, is keen on holding on to a role far more substantial than that of being merely a regional agent for the West.




Russia doesn't get it but Assad is finished

Despite Russia's emphasis on dialogue as the best way to end the Syrian crisis, reports from Washington imply that the US is already planning for a post-Assad era, said Tareq Homayed, editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Asahrq Al Awsat.

"Building on Russian positions is a mistake; Moscow has a record of erroneous stances supporting doomed regimes," he wrote.

" Their interpretation of our region was never accurate. Russia supported Saddam until the last minute, and here it is repeating the same mistake with Mr Al Assad."

The Kremlin's position is in fact merely perpetuating the crisis by giving the Damascus regime a misplaced hope that there will be no international reaction to the violence.

But that isn't correct. All indications suggest that an Arab and international escalation are looming.

Even Iran, the Syrian regime's sole ally, seems to be at a loss in trying to decide whether to continue its support for the regime in Damascus or to start preparing for a post-Assad era.

"In short, everything indicates that the entire region is gearing up for an Assad-free phase, no matter what Russia says," the writer concluded.



* Digest complied by Racha Makarem