x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

A trio of crises for the Arab world

"Three political crises are dominant," argued Waleed Noueihed in a commentary for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. He names the looming Sudanese secession, Iraq's political deadlock, and the ongoing violence in southern Yemen.

"Three political crises are dominant," argued Waleed Noueihed in a commentary for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. "In Sudan the identity of voters in oil-rich southern states is the main source of conflict; in Iraq, various political forces disagree about the census in Kirkuk, while the south of Yemen is torn between various ideologies."

The Sudan referendum is marred by a number of legal loopholes because most of its southern states are not politically mature enough for independence. Additionally, their demographic makeup would make it difficult to create a homogenous state.

The problem of Kirkuk in northern Iraq is no less serious. This oil-rich province has been controlled by the US since 2003, and has remained a site of conflict among Arabs, Turkmen, and Kurds over identity and minerals. Because of this special "mosaic", the province is likely to experience tougher times ahead if the US troops withdraw by 2012.

In southern Yemen, there are three main political movements: the separatist socialists, tribes allegedly linked to al Qa'eda, and the pro-government clans. The unstable relations among these components herald a bleak future, which has prompted many international powers to think of interfering in Yemen to impose a military stewardship.


War against Iran will start in Washington 

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not wait long after the mid-term elections to demand that the US administration make a military threat to Iran in order to dissuade it from pursuing its nuclear programme, wrote Saad Mehio in an opinion piece in the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

Mr Netanyahu knows, of course, that the US government fears waging wars with regional powers such as Iran as that would lead to a heated internal debate among the decision-making circles in Washington.

This prompted the US secretary of defence Robert Gates to reject the idea of threatening military option. And as an alternative approach, Mr Netanyahu chose to mobilise his allies to escalate the pressure campaign against Tehran.

Israeli demands alternate between calls for imposing a naval blockade on Iran and using the military threat on grounds that these measures are effective and likely to serve US goals faster than the economic sanctions.

In both cases, Israel would like to drag Washington into a war against Iran in a similar way to how it convinced the former president George W Bush that invading Iraq was the most efficient way to control Arab oil reserves and to reshape the map of the Middle East.


Arab Christians are victims of false claims

"I have never hesitated to defend the presence of Arab Christians in the Arab Muslim world and to oppose all campaigns against them," wrote Hussein al Ruwashda in an opinion piece for the Jordanian daily Addustoor.

This is because we cannot imagine our existence in the absence of Christians who have contributed to the establishment of the Arab identity and civilisation.

"But this position should not prevent me from expressing my concerns over exaggerated claims promoted by some about Christians being abused and their lives threatened.

"I disagree with such claims because Arabs, whether Muslim or Christians, live in miserable conditions and are the targets of the same threat. Both churches and mosques in many Arab countries were bombed while worshipers were inside."

It is so odd that our Christian brothers feel they are the prime targets and look at the issue from a religious point of view, although they know that terrorists make no distinction between a Muslim or a non-Muslim. This issue has taken a serious turn when western countries started to encourage Arab Christians to migrate to the West to escape "persecution".

Yet, this claim is groundless and is only meant to frighten Christians to leave their countries with the aim of depicting Islam as a "biased" religion, and  stripping the Arab world of its cultural diversity.


Iraq is still struggling toward democracy

In an editorial, the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh described the Iraqi political crisis as a maze that has become more complicated as some stakeholders believe Iran should have a say in Iraqi politics. Those who hold this view consider themselves an extension of Iran and still believe Iraq should remain under its regional custody.

Others, who defend a comprehensive nationalism that includes all ends of the Iraqi political spectrum, are now under strong pressure from external powers seeking to take a firm grip on Iraq.

The Kurds have emerged as the most coherent front. They maintain a conciliatory dialogue among themselves although they have disparate political stances. They also take advantage of concessions, which no other previous Kurdish leader has received before.

All Iraqi partisans, in fact, compete for key ministries, places in parliament and the army, according to majority rule and minority rights. But even those who are most optimistic about forming a national unity government are now dubious about whether this will ever come to pass.



* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi