x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Syrian opposition fractures

The Syrian regime must have rejoiced at opposition squabbling, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics: pressure on Iran and Syria, what Obama and Sarkozy really think, and

The Syrian regime's happiest moment

On its way to meeting the secretary general of the Arab League in Cairo on Tuesday, a Syrian opposition delegation was attacked by protesters accusing it of working covertly for Damascus.

In comment, Abdulbari Atwan, editor of the London-based paper Al Quds Al Arabi wrote that "Syrian authorities were surely having a field day as they watched one of the worst scenes of dissent within the Syrian opposition unfolding on the steps of the Arab League's headquarters."

It was a sad episode as some Syrians residing in Cairo attacked the representatives of the National Committee for Change, which includes leading opposition figures, to prevent them from having a coordination meeting with Mr Nabil Al Arabi before the Arab foreign ministers' meeting on Syria this Saturday.

Dissent within the opposition was sparked when the Change Committee agreed to talk with the regime and opposed any international interference in Syria. "But who said that all opposition views must be identical?" asked the writer. "Why can't there be a synergy in roles or a variety of views?"

If opposition factions want to compete to be recognised as an alternative to the regime, they must show a united front first.If they are unable to coexist how do they expect to rule or coexist with millions of Syrians, many of whom may still support the regime?

Pressure is mounting for Iran and Syria

After a reprieve due to the world's preoccupation with the Arab Spring, the Iranian issue has once again come to the forefront of international interest, columnist Hussam Kanafani wrote in the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.

What put Iran on front pages was an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report last week casting doubt on Iran's claim that its nuclear project is peaceful.

But this issue cannot be isolated from the Arab movements, especially in Syria, Tehran's main ally in the region, the columnist said.

"Many see a strong link between the re-stirring of the Iranian nuclear dossier and the anti-regime protests in Syria," he said. Iran has been explicit in warning that any attack on Damascus would put the entire region into a confrontation in which Tehran would be a major player.

Observers think the refocusing of attention on Iran, starting with the claim of an assassination plot against a Saudi ambassador and including talk of an Israeli attack and the recent IAEA report are all part of mounting pressure on Tehran that could lead to more severe UN sanctions.

As the revolution in Syria remains unresolved, the international community is seeking to exert simultaneous pressure on Damascus and its ally in Tehran, in an attempt to partially isolate both capitals and preoccupy them with separate issues.



Obama and Sarkozy revealed as helpless

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy describes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a liar, and when the US president, Barack Obama, replies by expressing exasperation at having to deal with the man every day, a window is opened, Rajeh Al Khoury wrote in the Lebanese newspaper Annahar, into a latent truth: there is mounting western resentment of Zionism's extortion policy.

"President Obama sounded envious of his French counterpart's ability to vent and express his opinion of Netanyahu, whereas he himself seemed resigned for having to deal with him on a daily basis," the writer said.

That the comments were overheard was blamed on a technical error, but the real error is on the part of the politicians who submit to Zionism to such a point that the leaders of two great powers are incapable of facing Mr Netanyahu and telling him what they really think of him.

They don't face him in public, nor do they pressure him to respond to international resolutions to achieve peace in the Middle East, which would lay the foundation for reconciliation between the West and the Arab World.

"How can Mr Obama promise a compromise if he is so terrified of the Israeli prime minister?" asked the writer. "And why would France be part of the international quartet if it is dealing with a liar?"


War against Iran is all but impossible

Since a US-Israeli war on Iran is close to impossible, the alternatives to war become easy, no matter how high their human, financial and political costs and no matter how limited their results compared to the ultimate goal of disabling the Iranian nuclear programme, columnist Satea Noureddin suggested in the Lebanese daily Assafir.

"A war would require capabilities that aren't available for Americans and Israelis at this stage," he said. "They don't possess the instruments or the financial means to get into a long conflict."

The simple equation is that countries on the verge of bankruptcy cannot go to war unless they guarantee that it would yield immense economic gains.

But this rule doesn't apply to Iran or to any of its Arab neighbours, on whom the West could play the Iranian threat card for as long as it wants to do so.

The real objective of the renewed campaign against Tehran is to redirect the confrontation to the Iranian internal scene where the nuclear programme has already lost national consensus support.

This is the goal of the West that doesn't want to give the impression that its withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan can be understood as an Iranian victory.



* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem