x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

US does not want involvement in Syria

By sending only 200 personnel to Jordan, America is sending a message that it has no interest in giving military aid to the Syrian rebels. Other topics: Egypt and Israel.

US deployment of 200 troops in Jordan is proof that America doesn't want involvement in Syria

What is the message behind the United States' deployment of 200 troops to Jordan in efforts to help the kingdom deal with a spillover of the conflict raging in neighbouring Syria, asked Abdulrahman Al Rashed in an article in the London-based Asharq Al Awsat newspaper.

In the mid-1990s, the US administration announced that it had allocated US$15 million (Dh 55m) to train and arm Iraqi opposition groups in Kurdish areas in a bid to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Although the statement received a lot of media attention, the US officials realised that their Arab allies did not react positively. They told the US that the $15 million figure was too small to topple Saddam's strong regime, and dismissed the move as proof that Americans had no intention of overthrowing Saddam.

But when former US president George Bush decided to unseat Saddam, he sent 100,000 soldiers to Iraq. The message then was loud and clear, observed the author.

By deploying 200 soldiers in Jordan against the backdrop of an escalating war in Syria, the US has sent a message that it does not intend to intervene in Syria. So small is the figure that it suggests limited operations, namely chemical weapons control, the writer added.

In previous wars, numbers spoke volumes. The US administration sent 178,000 troops to Iraq at the height of war; it sent more than 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Now President Barack Obama does not seem to be in favour of intervention in Syria.

If he ever decides to intervene, he will have to overcome political challenges to receive congressional approval. As it stands, this is no easy task unless the Syrian war develops on either of two fronts: terrorism or Israel, the writer suggested.

Indirect international intervention by backing the armed opposition would have been useful when the war started two years ago. That would have minimised the loss of lives, helped the civil opposition into power and prevented feuds and civil war.

Now Syria's earth is scorched and the situation is out of control, with many areas neither controlled by the regime nor by the opposition; other areas face the risk of becoming lawless, which portends more suffering for the Syrian people.

This is the outcome of the failure of the global community to intervene, letting the war rage between well-armed regime troops and an outgunned, divided opposition, he wrote.

The regime's forces have wreaked havoc in areas they were forced to leave, driving millions of people to flee. It is a huge strategic mistake by the West, and the Arabs in particular, to let chaos prevail in Syria. Two hundred US soldiers will neither frighten President Al Assad, nor boost the rebels' morale or maintain Jordan's security.

Egypt must not lose out on loan from IMF

Representatives of the International Monetary Fund have left Egyptian soil but no $4.8 billion (Dh17.6bn) loan deal has been signed, wrote columnist Makram Mohammed Ahmed in yesterday's edition of the Cairo-based newspaper Al Ahram.

Egypt seems no longer in a hurry to seal the deal after a sizeable cash injection from Qatar comforted its coffers.

"There is no doubt about it, Qatar's $3 billion deposit has given Egyptian negotiators latitude to postpone. But, eventually, Egypt will have no choice but to sign the IMF deal and comply with its terms," he wrote.

Egypt's Islamist leaders want to wait until the parliamentary elections are over to make their final push for the loan, as they fear the IMF requirements that come with it - including lifting subsidies and raising taxes - might dent their chances at the polls.

Of higher interest for the nation, however, are the perks that would open up after the IMF approves the loan, the writer said.

"There will be the possibility of Egypt benefiting from close to $15 billion in assistance, loans and credit facilities from the European Union."

To be sure, loans are not going to solve Egypt's problems. But injecting large-scale direct investments into the country's ailing economy will certainly create jobs and boost the productivity and export volumes, the author said in conclusion.

Israel's offers to PA are not concessions

The plan that the Israeli security apparatus submitted to Benjamin Netanyahu's government, regarding incentives to the Palestinian Authority, reveals yet another Israeli manoeuvre to contain rising Palestinian outrage and to prevent a simmering third intifada, suggested the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan in its editorial on Sunday.

Israeli incentives include fulfilling a number of demands that don't touch on the core conflict. That would translate into releasing 30 to 40 veteran Palestinian prisoners who were arrested before the Oslo Accords.

There may also be a temporary moratorium on settlement activities. Israel may allow the importation of ammunition for Palestinian security bodies in addition to a few economic incentives and promises of additional powers for the PA in certain domains.

"Ever since the peace process began, Israel has been trivialising Palestinian demands and using the people's basic rights as tools of manipulation and political extortion, all with the purpose of camouflaging the truth," the paper said.

"By no means are these acts of goodwill on the part of the Israelis. No one should fall for these games or deem them as concessions that call for similar concessions from the Palestinians," the paper added.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk