x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

US military action will not help in Yemen

Washington views Yemen as al Qa'eda's most dangerous headquarters and is making plans to confront it and try to wipe it out says the the pan-Arab daily Al Quds Al Arabi.

When the US magnified the explosive parcels issue, which reportedly came from Yemen at the orders of al Qa'eda, the objective was to prove the Yemeni government's inability to control its territories and clamp down on the terrorist organisation's activities. This set the stage for the establishment of US military bases at strategic navigational points in the country, argues the pan-Arab daily Al Quds Al Arabi.

Washington views Yemen as al Qa'eda's most dangerous headquarters and is making plans to confront it and try to wipe it out.

AQAP is led by Nasir al Wuhayshi and is increasingly gaining in power, as it is attracting stronger elements such as Anwar al Awlaki, the organisation's most influential ideological theorist.

The terrorist group's branch is situated in the southern region of Yemen, which is witnessing a surge in separatist movements, and a few dozen miles off international navigation lines next to the majority of oil pipelines.

The Yemeni government's capabilities against al Qa'eda seem extremely limited. The question is whether US aircraft would be capable of disabling the organisation and how would such a blatant military intervention impact the country's stability and unity.

There is no guarantee that an American military interference would succeed, especially since Yemenis are among the most fervent opponents of US foreign policies in the Middle East.

Iran would use Iraq like a visa to settle debts

In regards to an article by David Ignatius in the Washington Post, in which he questions Iran's seriousness in its nuclear negotiations with the US, Tareq Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, said: "Iran is clearly killing time on the nuclear issue as well as Iraqi and Lebanese affairs, an effort it shares with Syria."

In his article, Ignatius refers to US-Iranian proxy wars in the region that are unfolding in Lebanon and Iraq. While Tehran exerts pressures for the political gains of its agents, the US and its allies content themselves with a weak resistance role.

"This is in fact Iran and Syria's course of action. On one hand, they present themselves as keen to calm Lebanon and Iraq, while on the other hand, they continue to push for gains and more negotiating leverage."

In the case of Iraq, for instance, both Damascus and Tehran are pushing for a national partnership government, which would be weak and allow them to manage it from within when US troops withdraw in 2011. They already control Lebanon in the same way.

However, Iraq differs from Lebanon. It is rich in oil and therefore represents political supremacy in the Gulf region. "Iran would carry Iraq in its pocket just like a visa card that it would use to settle its political bills when negotiating with the US or to finance its agents in Lebanon and Gaza."

US refuses to comply with Israel over Iran

Kudos to the US for foiling Israeli efforts to persuade it to threaten military power against Iran, commented Mazen Hammad in an article for the Qatari daily Al Watan.

Benjamin Netanyahu recently told Washington to give a military ultimatum to Tehran regarding its nuclear issue. The US defence secretary Robert Gates responded by saying he doesn't approve of the idea that military threats alone will convince the Iranians to take the necessary steps to halt their nuclear programme.

Washington's position towards Iran is based on severe sanctions on one hand and diplomatic efforts on the other, although the military intervention option remains a last resort.

US officials say sanctions are effective, and that it is a matter of time until results can be achieved.

Mr Netanyahu's provocative remarks came at a time when diplomatic efforts are at their highest to resuscitate talks between Iran and the five permanent members at the Security Council, plus Germany.

Iran agreed to hold the talks in Turkey as proof of its nuclear goodwill and as a way to exert diplomatic pressure on the US and its allies. While the US seems resentful of Turkey's recent rapprochement to Iran, their solid rejection of Israeli military proposals remains an important element for appeasing relationships with Tehran, which gives hope for a negotiated concession over this issue.

Contradictory points on internet freedom

In an opinion article for the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat, the columnist Abdulrahman al Rashed comments on two conflicting attitudes pertaining to internet information freedom; one calls for internet channels to be shut down forcefully, the other calls to keep them open, also forcefully.

The British security minister recently travelled to the US in the hope of persuading authorities to adopt a policy that bans terrorism-related internet sites.

However, the US Congress was looking into a bill on lifting the ban on the internet that is being enforced in many countries around the world and calling for the protection of freedom of expression and information through a technical intervention.

The bill calls for internet freedom and contrasts with Britain's project to shut down abusive sites.

"I am against opinion bans," observes the writer. "Everyone is entitled to their opinions as long as expression of such opinions is peaceful and free of murderous instigation. An uncontested ideology loses its value, especially in this vast electronic space that we enjoy."

But some people's freedom ends where other people's freedom begins.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem