x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Yemen is a pressing problem for Gulf states

The results of a survey point out that Yemen's image is unfavourable, and the country's large demographic and steep poverty mean that it would be a liability to the other GCC members states.

Arab.net recently published a survey about the consequences of Yemen joining the Gulf Cooperation Council. The survey received a record 137,000 replies, of which 80 per cent said Yemen's membership would drag the GCC down.

In a comment, the columnist Daoud al Sharyan wrote in pan-Arab daily Al Hayat that the numbers indicate a wide consensus among the mostly Gulf citizen readers of Arab.net against the proposition. In fact, Yemen's image in the Gulf is unfavourable, and the country's large demographic and steep poverty mean that it would be a liability to the other GCC members states, especially that unemployment in Yemen had reached a staggering 53 per cent and 48 per cent of Yemenis live on two US dollars a day.

"This popular attitude was shaped by the economic views published in the Gulf press warning against Yemen's membership in the GCC. However, these views ignore that Yemen's situation is no longer a political or economic issue, and that resolving it is a domestic issue of the highest importance for the GCC, as the fall of Yemen threatens the security of Gulf states."

Gulf states take in millions of their workforce from around the world and transfer more than $100 billion annually to Asian countries. A quick solution would be to grant Yemen a share of no less than a quarter of this sum by facilitating labour opportunities for Yemenis.

Pakistan's influence grows in Afghanistan

Just as the US holds others, mainly Syria and Iran, accountable for smuggling militants to Iraq or arming Shiite militias to justify its inability to achieve victory, it is now resorting to the same practice in Afghanistan, observes the columnist Mazen Hammad in an article for the Qatari daily Al Watan.

Within this framework, US security authorities leaked to the press new intelligence reports accusing Pakistan of supporting the Afghan Taliban and al Qa'eda, claiming that this stood in the way of a US victory in Afghanistan.

"There is no denying that the relationship between the US and its ally Pakistan has a complicated aspect that dates back to the period prior to the war in 2001, but we believe that there is an exaggeration in portraying Islamabad as solely responsible for the likely defeat of the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan."

There are deep differences in opinion between the civil and military administrations in Washington about the strategy in Afghanistan. Military commanders and Pentagon leaders haven't yet resolved whether the war could be won without additional Pakistani cooperation. But after years of financial and military aid to Islamabad, decision makers in Washington are beginning to complain of Pakistan's reticence to fulfil its part of the deal.

It remains to be seen whether the US would be able accomplish its goal of weakening the Taliban wile building an Afghan national army.

Syrian mediation is biased in Lebanon

Not a day goes by without speculations about an Arab concession regarding the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indictment that is being formulated between Saudi Arabia and Syria in an attempt to avoid civil strife in the country, wrote the columnist Ali Hamade in an article for the Lebanese daily Annahar.

A close inspection of the Arab diplomatic movements especially between Riyadh and Damascus, and the European-Arab efforts, mainly following the Syrian president Bashar al Assad's recent visit to Paris, reveals that the Syrian president is repeating the slogan of "an indictment based on conclusive evidence". This an attitude that he reiterated most recently in Doha saying: "Syria will not accept any indictment without conclusive evidence."

The Syrian president's exclusion of Saudi's position reveals its diminished role in the mediation efforts, which could be due to the conflicting attitude of both mediating parties. In fact, the Saudis are influential in Lebanon, but have no security role, while Syria exercises direct influence on the ground. More importantly, Syria is directly affected by the awaited indictment by the tribunal.

The repeal of the political accusation to Syria doesn't necessarily mean that it wouldn't be included in the indictment. Syria cannot be an impartial mediator in this crisis since its attitudes and positions are, as always, similar to Hizbollah's.

Palestinians must seek reconciliation now

The time couldn't be better for a Palestinian reconciliation in light of the failing peace process, which should be an additional incentive to both sides of the conflict to resolve their differences and start a new phase of national endeavour, proposed Hussam Kanafani in an opinion article for the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

The option today is to go back to square one and shape a formula for ways to deal with daily developments that breaks away from the traditional Palestinian past. This depends on the Palestinian attitude towards the new US ideas that envoy George Mitchell brings to the region.

An internal Palestinian rapprochement would be beneficial in the new phase of indirect negotiations. The cause as a whole will be at stake as long as both camps continue to insist on their different points of view, especially in case the negotiations end and the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas decides to dissolve the Authority. That would mean a return to total Israeli control over the West Bank.

Overcoming the conflict and seeking a joint strategy stand as a crucial necessity for Palestinians today. However, hopes and the logic of quotas usually never converge.