x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Lisbon Summit has declared Nato rebirth

When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact collapsed more than two decades ago, voices in the West called for the dismantling of Nato, as it had no role to play anymore, commented Mazen Hammad in an article for the Qatari daily Al Watan.

When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact collapsed more than two decades ago, voices in the West called for the dismantling of Nato, as it had no role to play anymore, commented Mazen Hammad in an article for the Qatari daily Al Watan.

The demise of communism was a prompt towards the disbandment of Nato. But the advent of new enemies such as terrorism, electronic warfare and rogue states gives the alliance new reasons to remain in force.

At the recent summit in Lisbon, leaders of the coalition succeeded in giving Nato a new lease of life. It adopted a more convincing and less costly missile shield system based on the gradual building of a network of defences and radars. The network would cover all of Atlantic Europe as well as the US. Its best feature is that its cost will not exceed $1.5 billion over a period of 10 years.

Nato was able to determine new future roles for itself, and succeeded in persuading Turkey to retract past objections to the missile shield. Turkey agreed to the establishment of the shield as long as it didn't name Iran as a source of the threat. There are also indications that the alliance would be able to overturn Russia's reservations about the new shield as long as it doesn't target its missiles.

Americans praised the Lisbon agreement as a victory for President Obama, while Nato documents issued in the Portuguese capital seemed to hail a new birth for the alliance.


A perplexing Israeli withdrawal in Lebanon

The reasons for the "pro bono" Israeli withdrawal from al Gajar town is still unknown, observes the columnist Abdul Rahman al Rashed in an article for the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Israel has never, spontaneously and willingly, relinquished one occupied meter of land prior to this instance. All previous withdrawals were done in calculated circumstances, for a determined price or as result of continuous resistance.

Although Lebanon and Syria have yet to agree on the affiliation and identity of al Gajar's inhabitants, the dispute will not exacerbate or resolve tensions before the withdrawal of the last Israeli soldier from the town.

But why did the Israelis withdraw?

The one alarming answer would be that, in case of a war on Lebanon, Israel wants to be able to provide evidence of compliance with prior commitments. Then, any attack by or because of Hizbollah would be interpreted as an act of aggression rather than resistance.

This suggests that the happy withdrawal is a bad omen, although Israel is never short of excuses for a war. Therefore, it doesn't need to withdraw to justify a future war.

"Despite the multitude of interpretations that have nothing to do with typical Israeli mentality, I still cannot fathom the real reason for the withdrawal. This means we have to deal with this event as a positive result, until proven otherwise," concludes the writer.


Security issues top concern for Gulf Cup

Talk of security overshadows sports news in Yemen with the inauguration of the Gulf Cup football championship in the city of Aden, as the real confrontation is to take place outside the stadium between Yemeni security forces and al Qa'eda, writes the columnist Hassan Haidar in an article for the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

The focus is no longer on the participating teams, at least for the organising country, as much as it is on securing the games, especially for the thousands of fans who come from neighbouring Gulf countries to cheer for their teams.

Al Qa'eda and its supporters view these high security measures as a victory, since it succeeded in forcing the authorities to deploy more than 30,000 soldiers throughout the city. The government, on the other hand, view these costly measures as a victory of their own if the games end in success.

The Yemeni Minister of Youth and Sports described the groups attempting to distort the championship by threatening to organise a protest on Monday as "less patriotic than the mafia in South Africa". He went on to say: "Unfortunately, we thought that these groups would copy criminal mafia gangs that declared their patriotism in South Africa when their country hosted the World Cup. But it seems that these are even less patriotic than the mafia."

The problem however, is that the "national truce" that the minister is asking for requires a lot more than a football championship.


Space mission into worlds of knowledge

Next February, the US space shuttle Endeavour will be launched into space carrying a device that cost $1.5 billion and 16 years of scientific effort, said the columnist Saad Mehio in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

The eight-ton-device, called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, is one of the most ambitious space projects to date, as its mission is to dive deep into space in search of dark matter. Dark matter is one of the most perplexing mysteries of the universe. Scientists know nothing of it but the gravity force it exercises on known matter. It accounts for 80 per cent of the universe's matter, while visible matter accounts for no more than 20 per cent.

If the spectrometer succeeds in inspecting this elusive matter by capturing cosmic radiation, scientists would be closer to unravelling the real composition of the cosmos.

"Three months from now, man would be able to get closer to this immense invisible world. Should natural laws differ from the physics laws that we know, humanity's knowledge would have to, once again, go back to point zero, just as it did when Copernicus discovered that the earth orbits the sun and not the contrary."


* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem