x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Syrian propaganda no longer hits home

Arabic newspapers say Barack Obama will invest in his first term's "only achievement", the death of Osama bin Laden, to attempt to win a second term. Other topics include Syria and Yemen.

One year after Osama bin Laden's death, his organisation continues to grow ever stronger

One year ago last Tuesday, a US Navy SEALs unit raided an ordinary house in a town near Islam Abad in Pakistan and killed its occupant Osama bin Laden along with his son and other members of his entourage ending a fifteen-year long international chase.

"President Barack Obama claimed victory over Al Qaeda and its leader and is seeking to invest his first term's only 'achievement' to attempt to win a second term," said Abdul Bari Atwan, the editor of the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi. "But it was an achievement that may prove to be quite costly for the United States and to president Obama himself. Probably just as costly as Al Qaeda's attacks have been."

In the mind of his numerous followers across the Islamic world, Osama bin Laden became a symbol. The US administration is well aware of this fact, otherwise, they wouldn't have opted to bury him at sea and destroy his house in Abbot Abad lest it come to be a shrine that perpetuates the memory of the man who dared to stand up to the US and hit it right in the heart.

In retrospect, the US hardly put a dent in the organisation's structure. On the contrary, it was Al Qaeda that succeeded, whether directly or indirectly, in undermining America's might in Iraq and Afghanistan and by dragging it into a long-trudging, pricey war on terrorism.

It was only natural that the elimination of Bin Laden would affect his organisation's power and efficiency for a while. After all, the man was a role model and source of inspiration for his devoted followers. But, remarkably, during the last decade, Al Qaeda has managed to evolve systematically in a way that doesn't require it leader to manage its affairs hands-on from his hiding place.

"Al Qaeda organisation has evolved into a strong, deeply rooted tree with dense out-reaching branches," the writer added. "It new leaders are fiercer than their forefathers and any first-generation leaders. They are more educated, and most alarmingly, more spiteful towards the West."

The US indirectly admitted defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan and implicitly acknowledged its downfall in its war on "cyber Jihad".

Osama Bin Laden vanished, but not before leaving behind him a stronger organisation and a jihadist ideology that is seeped into the intellect of countless downtrodden people in the Islamic world who are fed up with American and Western monopoly.

As long as Arabs and Muslim remain humiliated, Al Qaeda will continue to grow stronger, Atwan concluded.

Syrian propaganda no longer hits home

The Syrian regime is carrying on a propaganda blitz in an effort to hamper the international observers' mission to Syria tasked with probing killings perpetrated by the regime across Syrian cities; in the meantime, blasts flared in Damascus and Idlib.

"Perfect timing to chalk it up to the revolution and persuade the outside world that the regime is a victim of terrorist groups," wrote columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat yesterday.

In the past decades such stories did the trick but not any longer. For around 40 years, the regime banked on two methods in handling its battles: intimidation and manipulation. These were exercised against its adversaries in the region, "The Lebanese, the Jordanians, the Iraqis, the Palestinians, and the Egyptians. So what are they doing now against the Syrian opposition? Well, the same old stuff," the writer noted.

The Syrian authorities are cooking up blasts and point accusations at the opposition to interfere with work of the international mission. "The Syrian regime has long pulled the wool over the eyes of many Arabs who believed its slogans and excuses."

But the truth is that the regime was feeding off slogans and handling wars through lies.

"The late Yasser Arafat complained about the Syrian regime, and how dangerous it was, but due to sinister propaganda, many bore a grudge against Arafat instead."

Yemen settlement must be safeguarded

The recent escalation of violence in Yemen creates apprehensions of repercussions for a country that has already surmounted the period of polarity between the people and the regime, editorialied the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan yesterday.

Though Yemen arrived to a political settlement through a compromise that spared the country the worst, security a vacuum still prevails, fuelled by the army's inability to decisively win battles against gunmen in their stronghold of Abyan Governorate.

"Amid procrastination… in implementing the resolutions of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi with regard to restructuring the army…cautions have surfaced that the exacerbating security vacuum in Yemen due the raging violence between security forces and armed groups, might endanger the ongoing political settlement."

Against this backdrop, all Yemeni eyes will be on Friends of Yemen meeting slated to convene late this month. Concerted efforts will be needed to make it a success; in it, financial and technical support for Yemenis will be determined to help them overcome this transitional stage and address pressing developmental and humanitarian needs.




* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk