x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Sinai raiders do no service to Egypt

It's wrong to blame Israel for the latest Sinai attack, but the perpetrator must be caught, an Arabic columnist says. Other topics:Yemeni dialogue and support for the Arab Spring

Sinai border attack: it's still too early to deal out accusations, especially against the Israelis

Speculation is rife as the people of Egypt and the region wait to learn the identity and the agenda of the attackers who killed 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai last Sunday, wrote Abdullah Iskandar, managing editor of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat, in a column yesterday.

The bodies of the attackers, who were killed by Israeli soldiers stationed on the other side of the border, have been handed over to Egyptian authorities. Capturing their associates is the main target now.

But until that happens, the main suspects are said to be "jihadists" who call the Sinai desert home, the editor said. "Who these 'jihadists' are and whether they are 'locals' … are questions still waiting for answers."

Whatever the case, the attack has revealed a number of facts about the border triangle locking Gaza, Egypt and Israel together, the editor noted.

"Mainly, it has revealed the fragile security hold in Sinai and a level of porosity in the Gaza-Egypt border that allows such a high-profile, bloody attack to be undertaken with such ease."

It would have taken a long time and much effort, he added, to arrest the perpetrators had they chosen to escape into the desert instead of crossing into Israel. They were killed in a raid using the vehicle they had stolen from the Egyptian border post.

"The Egyptian-Palestinian borders are easily penetrated not just by smugglers of goods, but also by 'jihadists' from Egypt who find a safe haven in the Gaza Strip," the editor said.

"Every time an attack has happened in Sinai, against the Egyptian forces or against tourists, Cairo has declared its suspicions that elements from the Gaza Strip might be involved. And that's what it did after this last attack."

To be sure, this always ends up affecting the people of Gaza, with crossings and tunnels being closed by Egypt's own orders or under pressure from Israel.

"From this perspective, the outcome is actually positive for Israel," the editor pointed out. In the wake of every such attack, Israel comes across as militarily alert and strategically superior. Meanwhile, the Egyptian side looks unjustifiably slow on the draw.

"But focusing too much on this idea that Israel benefits most politically from these terrorist attacks must not preclude the responsibility to go after those who, through their acts, are serving Israeli interests, either by undermining Egypt's security or by giving Israel room to have a say on how the Palestinians should be handled."

All of the above, however, would not yet justify any accusation levelled at the Israeli side, as the Muslim Brotherhood was too quick to do. While the Israeli Mossad usually has no qualms orchestrating deadly attacks, it is way too soon, and simply unscientific, to accuse them already.

Supporting the Arab Spring more logical

Now and then, dissonant voices rise to question the Arab Spring, its timing, its nature and who is behind it, in a desperate attempt to confiscate the revolutions and the achievements made in many parts of the Middle East, argued Issa Al Omairi in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Watan.

If a comparison were to be made between opponents and advocates of peoples' endeavours for liberation and dignity, long-trampled by ruling gangs, the balance would come out in favour of the pro-Arab revolutions, the writer said.

The concerns about chaos reigning in places that saw the Arab Spring would not be more terrible than the status quo in those countries, he went on. In other words, "change is, at worst, better that non-change".

"With all due respect to those analysts who warn of the dangers of the Arab Spring, it is my belief that our vision is the closest to reality."

But the "analysts" here do not include those groups who benefit from the dictatorial regimes staying in power. By supporting dictatorships, they are not only swimming against the current, they are being illogical and nonsensical.

Their stance has only one meaning: under the revolutions of the Arab Spring, they were deprived of the privileges they got under the dictatorships, he said.

People can no longer put up with dictators taking the lead in the Middle East and have to force them from power.

Dialogue conference must reach agreement

Equipped with many projects split between seeking to preserve Yemen's national unity and various self-interests, different Yemeni political parties are getting ready for the national dialogue conference slated for November, the UAE-based newspaper Al Khaleej saidin it editorial yesterday.

Yemenis have a long history when it comes to dialogue. Since the outbreak of the revolutions in the north and the south, Yemenis have entered into dialogues aimed at finding a way out of the crises and violence that marked successive political regimes.

However, the outcomes of those dialogues were sedatives, not solutions to problems; the issues flare up again in a more serious way once the sedation wears off, the editorial went on.

Today, Yemenis of all political stripes stand at a crossroads. Either they realise the dream of an agreement on a national plan to enforce constitutional reforms or they fall apart.

Only Yemenis can stand against the disintegration schemes concocted outside the country with the help of some Yemenis at home. All political forces must cling to dialogue, or else Yemen's political future will hang in the balance, the editorial said.

"This is contingent on the outcome of the national dialogue conference that must usher in new era."

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk