x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

New Iraq government will face challenges

At long last, the ruling political elite in Iraq breathed a sigh of relief after the parliament succeeded in holding a session with a legal quorum.

At long last, the ruling political elite in Iraq breathed a sigh of relief after the parliament succeeded in holding a session with a legal quorum, wrote Nasrin Murad in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan.

Among the most important resolutions reached was the decision to re-elect the incumbent president Jalal Talibani, who asked the prime minister to form a new government under his leadership, while Al Iraqiyya list was granted the privilege to preside over the parliament.

Yet there are many challenges likely to face the new government and its veteran head, Nouri al Maliki. First, it is possible that the process of national reconciliation will achieve little progress, hampering efforts to rebuild the country, given rampant administrative, financial and economic corruption.

Second, while theoretically there is a great prospect for a positive change in services and security, on the ground, there is no reason for optimism since the same "failing" leaders will rule again.

Lastly, if the government crisis is aggravated, this may lead to a popular movement in protest against the present regime, similar to what happened in Iraqi cities in reaction to the power crisis.

It has been reported that the regime is engaged in a campaign to reinforce a system based on sectarian quotas, which is less likely to benefit the country because of external interference.

The US grows worried about Iranian missiles

"US intelligence assessments said that Iran had obtained a number of advanced missiles modelled on Russian designs. This was a summary of a cable dated February 24, 2010, and recently published by WikiLeaks," wrote Mazen Hammad in an opinion article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

Washington believes that these new missiles are more powerful than it had expected. According to the same cable, Iran received 19 of these missiles from North Korea. This point was discussed at length between senior Russian officials and an American delegation headed by an official in charge of curtailing nuclear weapons proliferation.

It is believed that the missiles are of a range that would enable Iran, for the first time, to strike regions as far as western Europe. The US expressed fear that this step could strengthen Iran's efforts to develop ballistic missiles.

In fact, this issue has been raised since 2006, when reports mentioned that North Korea may have sold missiles of Russian technology to Iran. Some of the details brought out by WikiLeaks indicated that Iran had been investing efforts to build a new generation of such missiles known as BM-25, which can carry nuclear warheads.

In light of the new information, the West might grow more concerned about new repercussions, especially after Iran launched into space its first satellite last year.

Morocco and Spain need to co-exist

The massive march in Casablanca, Morocco, held last Sunday to defend the Moroccan stance towards the Sahara was a natural reaction against the injustice that millions of Moroccans had felt when they saw security forces slaughtered in the Laayoune events, observed Mohammed al Achab in a commentary for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

Security forces were ordered not to use arms when dismantling the camps pitched by Sahrawis outside Laayoune. It was an ethical decision by authorities not to use force in handling such a thorny question, in which the Spanish People's Party (PP) explicitly interfered by promoting ideas that Spain and Sahrawis share "cultural roots". Some even went so far as to say that the Sahara is Spanish.

The PP, which lobbied the last resolution by the European Parliament concerning the Laayoune events, appointed itself a defender of human rights and claimed that one of the victims holds Spanish citizenship. The Casablanca March was an occasion, however, to highlight the common points that unite the Spanish and Moroccan peoples, away from tension and hostility.

Despite the diplomatic crises between Madrid and Rabat, Spain knows well that success in Africa, politically and economically, will inevitably depend on good relations with North African countries, especially Morocco.

WikiLeaks jeopardises US credibility first

The latest set of  documents posted by the WikiLeaks and the secrets therein about US diplomacy will hurt its credibility world-wide, observed the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

This would add to the crisis of its diplomacy as a result of its foreign policies and involvement in many wars. In fact, the information leaked would reaffirm that Washington cannot be trusted for anything.

Many would argue whether the publication of these documents and also its timing is "innocent". And whether the choices of particular cases and the target parties were made at random. Many also question who are behind this "campaign", and who are those who would like to seed division among countries of the region.

Another question worth raising is who leaked the information, even from strongholds of the US administration like the Pentagon and the US Department of State. Unfortunately, those who did so were not held accountable. Moreover, information on brutal acts carried out by Israel were not mentioned at all.

The US has caused many to feel suspicious about its attitudes, either now or in the future, while its reputation in the Arab world is becoming worse because of its biased policies towards Israel.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi