x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Peacekeeping project in Syria unlikely

Arabic newspapers discuss the peacekeeping forces to Syria, Palestinian unity and US meddling in Egypt's affairs.

Syrian peacekeeping project seems unlikely because no Arab country want to send troops

The Arab League's willingness to dispatch joint Arab and international peacekeeping forces to Syria has given rise to a great deal of attention in various capitals around the world. But this initiative would require the approval of Russia and China at the UN Security Council, the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi noted in an editorial.

"The Arab foreign ministers who came up with the initiative during their last meeting in Cairo wanted to rectify the disastrous mistake they made when they sought the assistance of the UNSC without consulting and coordinating with the Russian and the Chinese leaderships," the paper said. "For this reason, they delegated the UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to Moscow to meet his counterpart Sergey Lavrov and request his assistance."

As might have been expected, Mr Lavrov said his country will look into the initiative. But no one knows how long that will require. However, he was clear in stating that violence must cease on both sides of the conflict as a prelude to any peacekeeping effort.

The foreign ministers of western European countries, mainly the UK, France and Germany, welcomed the Arab proposal, although the UK did state that the European participation in the mission shouldn't come from western-European states. For its part, and for security reasons, the US seems reticent to send its troops to Syria, which impairs the project altogether.

On the same subject, the Saudi columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashid wrote in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat that "just like the scandalous Arab observers mission that recently ended, the project to send Arab peacekeeping forces to Syria would be faced with the same hurdles and would eventually fail."

In all likelihood, other than the pro-regime states, not one government would be prepared to send soldiers to Syria, where they would become sitting ducks for the regime forces.

And anyway, which Arab government would be capable of sending peacekeeping forces to Syria, he asked.

"The turmoil across the Arab region makes it difficult to find governments willing to respond to such a call. Egypt is preoccupied with its internal situation and can't afford to send troops abroad. The Gulf states need all of their forces at hand to counter any likely confrontation with Iran. Jordan is preoccupied with its internal situation. Yemen, Libya and Tunisia are still dealing with their own revolutions."

In light of the Arab military feebleness, Turkish forces would have to be called on. In response to that, the Damascus regime would request the participation of Iranian troops in the international force, despite the fact that the Syrian people see Iran as an accomplice in the crimes being perpetrated against them.

Palestinians win on all counts if they unite

The agreement between rival Palestinian factions to form a national unity government in the coming days came as a sweet surprise for Palestinian nationalists, and for all those who care about the Palestinian cause, observed Ashraf Al Ajrami, a columnist with the West Bank-based newspaper Al Ayyam.

Unity between the two main Palestinian factions, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah in the West Bank, can't hurt the Palestinian cause, the writer said. That some Hamas figures are not too excited about it changes nothing about the fact that the union is in Hamas's "best interest."

Just Israel's nervousness about this rapprochement should tell the Palestinians that they are doing the right thing. "Israel knows it might lose an important edge," the writer noted.

First, it will no longer be able to claim that the Palestinian leadership is fragmented, which in the eyes of Israeli negotiators has long made the Palestinian side unreliable in terms of implementing peace agreements.

Second, Israel is worried that, given the repercussions of the Arab Spring, the international community may finally be willing to give its blessing to Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, Israel and other western nations.

"Indeed, the Palestinian position after the enactment of this reconciliation deal will give the Palestinian leadership a strength it did not have."

US meddling in Egypt's affairs is laid bare

The recent testimony of Fayza Abul Naga, Egypt's minister of foreign cooperation, has "dissipated all doubts" about the ill intents of the United States regarding the Egyptian revolution, said Mohammed Obeid, a columnist with the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

Over the past weeks, charges have been filed in Cairo criminal court against more than 40 non-governmental institution workers, including 19 Americans, who stand accused of violating Egyptian law by providing financial means to local activists without government permission.

Ms Abul Naga stated that the Egyptian revolution "took the US off guard" and "was out of its control," which led Washington to "resort to every tool at its disposal to contain the situation and push it towards the direction that suits the best interests of the US and Israel," the columnist quoted the minister as saying.

The easiest and least costly way to achieve that is to "spread chaos" and make it "sustainable," Ms Abul Naga reportedly added.

This narrative actually holds water, the columnist argued. "A modern, democratic Egypt, with a strong economy, represents a serious threat to US and Israeli interests."

Backwardness in the region as a whole keeps Israel strong, he added.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk