x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Thus America rewards its old friends

A daily roundup of the region's news translated from the Arabic press.

One of the big lessons to take home from the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia has to do with the American knack for ditching old friends, wrote Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

"The US administration is currently dealing with the situation in Egypt as if President Hosni Mubarak is not even there. In fact, it now considers him a burden that needs to be cast off as soon as possible to limit the damages and preserve what has remained of its interests there."

The US's friends are in agony. "They can't sleep, because they know their billions are not going to prevent their fall."

In the footsteps of Mr Mubarak, the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh declared last week that he will not run for office again. For his part, the Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika ordered the lifting of the state of emergency law and promised reforms.

Even Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of "the only democracy" in the region, has been exposed as a supporter of the neighbouring dictatorship. As long as Israel's strategic interests were protected, it didn't matter how the next-door neighbours were ruled.

"Indeed, America is losing the Middle East." All it can do now is try to minimise the fallout.


Israel has reaped too many concessions

By the time the Oslo Accords were signed in September 13, 1993, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) had spent a lot of energy touting the agreement as a "national achievement", wrote Awni Farsakh, a commentator with the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.

But political analysts and intellectuals like Burhan Dajani and Edward Said made sure to denounce the accords as capitulatory arrangements which - though they recognised Israel's right to exist - did not gain anything in return when it came to the refugees, Jerusalem or the borders.

Since then, other agreements have been signed, but denunciations of the low performance of the "Oslo team" have never really stopped. So when Al Jazeera news network broadcast its leaked Palestine Papers, it did not exactly unearth something new, it simply published what was well known among observers of the Palestinian-Israeli struggle.

But if the question "Why so many concessions?" remains, the answer itself has never really changed. Any negotiations are governed by a power balance; in this case it is tilted towards Israel.

The question that crops up then is: why do Palestinians enter lose-lose talks in the first place? What about the achievements of the resistance? Many forget that Israel would have never recognised the PLO in 1993 had it been able to crush the stone-throwers of the first intifada.


Let Egyptians deal with their own Egypt

"I think it was the first time the US president Barack Obama and Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei agreed on something. Both of them supported the protestors opposed to the Egyptian regime, and both relayed their eagerness to see Hosni Mubarak out of office," wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed, a columnist with the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

Are we witnessing some sort of race to gain the favours of the future president of Egypt? Iranian enthusiasm for regime change in Cairo is understandable. Egypt is the backbone of the region; its internal struggles are good news for an Iran always on the lookout for opportunities to expand its influence. What is hard to fathom is the sense of zeal that suddenly erupted in the White House for the departure of Mr Mubarak.

Washington will neither be thanked nor honoured for sticking its nose into Egyptian affairs at this particular juncture. And no one will remember it as a backer of change. Egyptians are determined to do away with all forms of tutelage because they've already taken matters in their own hands.

As for Mr Khamenei, he almost gave the Egyptian opposition the kiss of death when he dedicated 20 minutes of his Friday sermon speaking in Arabic about his support for the protestors, which was simply an embarrassment for the opposition forces.

"Leave Egypt to Egyptians."


A strange example of political neutrality

The Arab League has once again preferred to stick its head in the sand rather than face up to events that concern member countries most of all, stated the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds in its editorial.

Most nations and watchdog organisations have expressed support for the demands of the people who took to the streets in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia, except the Arab League.

What is happening in Egypt today will have repercussions for years to come, and change in that country is likely to bring about a transformation in the future of the Arab world as a whole.

"It is not only strange, then, but a great shame, that the Arab League acts like a spectator, not taking the side of the people who are exercising their rights to free speech, self-determination and dignity."

The pan-Arab body has not even tried to get involved in curbing the damages or helping resolve the crisis.

"In so doing, the Arab League is simply reinforcing an image that is already impressed in the minds of the Arab people; the image of an organisation that is not only incapable of shaking up the Arab status quo but is perhaps standing as an impediment to any popular renaissance."



* Disgest compiled by Achraf El Bahi