Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 March 2018

Does the Middle East stand on the brink of a great war?

What the battle against ISIL means for the Middle East, as seen by Nagi Sadeq Sharab (Al Khaleej), the editorial of Al Bayan and Mashari Al Thaidy (Asharq Al Awsat).

Instability in the Middle East and the Arab world has given way to speculation about whether the region stands at the dawn of a great war, a battle for power that will change the regional order.

Weakened by the upheavals of the Arab Spring, the region finds itself facing the rising threat of extremism, which can only be fought back through unity, wrote Nagi Sadeq Sharab in the Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.

“If one had to summarise the history of the region over time, it would be described as a region of wars and conflicts,” he said.

“It has always been a target due to its strategic location, its economic resources and particularly its oil resources.”

The region became a battlefield during two great wars, with grave repercussions from a geographic perspective due to the Sykes-Picot Agreement and due to American imperialism, with the Russians coveting the region’s wealth from the East, he explained.

He wrote that the recent rise in terrorism and the collapse of Arab unity have left the door wide open to Islamist terrorist organisations that use the facade of Islam to reach their goals.

“It looks as though the features of a great war are beginning to form. It is a great war because it is multipartite, embroiling regional and international powers and involving non-state entities,” he wrote.

“It is multilateral and annihilating because it aims to get rid of Arab nationalism and redivide the region by spreading total chaos, one that would enforce a new map that is agreeable with the interests of all the parties and powers.

“The final aspects of a great and universal war are embodied by the formation of the first international coalition that includes a number of Arab countries to face ISIL and other terrorist groups.”

The editorial of Dubai-based daily Al Bayan noted that the world “is up against ISIL, so as to bring an end to the group that has spread terror among people.

“Reliance on military force alone will not eradicate the phenomenon of terrorism, which appears to be the most serious threat in the 21st century,” it stressed.

“The ongoing conflict in Syria, Libya’s internal instabilities and tensions in Iraq leave the door wide open to these extremist groups, whether ISIL or others, to expand and spread like wildfire.”

There must be a comprehensive vision for the fight against terrorism. It involves joint governmental efforts within each country, which will then expand into an effective international partnership, it concluded.

In the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat, Mashari Al Thaidy noted that “there is an international will to curb terrorist activity on social networking sites [that] only began when the blades of ISIL touched westerners and when the group began recruiting members in the suburbs of Paris and London.

“Such a war is not fought with good intentions and a few military strikes based on the naive philosophy that thinks war is based on the concept of ‘hit and run’. The wheel has turned and a few days back, the European Union requested the assistance of giants of the internet (namely Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) to fight extremism to prevent such groups from recruiting online and broadcasting propaganda videos.”

This is an emergency and an exceptional situation, requiring “commensurate rationality, men and action”, concluded Al Thaidy.

Translated by Carla Mirza