x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

What's the end-game for the Syrian crisis?

Arabic editoials also discuss Turkey and Israel, Arab Christians and South Sudan's missteps in Israel.

Where and how will the Syrian story end?

It is unlikely that the Syrian opposition would turn to armed resistance against the regime in the present circumstances, suggested the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

It is not an option in the face of an all-powerful military machine adamant on breaking the backs of protesters. The "violence for violence" equation is impracticable in Syria for the time being.

While the Syrian authorities are continuously increasing the number of security roadblocks in various cities, they refuse to listen to the counselling of Russian friends or to the threats of their US enemies. During the five months since the start of the uprising, the Assad regime proved that it is bent on pressing forward with the violent clampdown. It seems that the regime is convinced that terrorist radical infiltrators are instigating the people into an armed confrontation.

"No one knows where the Syrian story would end, but the developments on the ground indicate that matters are at risk of becoming explosive as armed cells would be formed to perpetrate attacks on the army and the armed forces and slowly chip away at the regime's power."

President al Assad's biggest fear is to be forsaken by Moscow and maybe even China, which would give the UN Security Council the opportunity to impose the harshest of sanctions on Damascus.

Turkish position constitutes precedent

The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, didn't disappoint us when he decided to expel the Israeli ambassador in Ankara and cut military ties in protest over the Israeli massacre on board the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza last year, said Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi daily.

"This is the first time in decades that an Islamic state dares to defy Israeli arrogance so firmly," he said. "Traditionally, Arab states would swallow their pride and yield to Israel's blatant insults."

Turkish-Israeli relations have been rapidly declining over the last three years. What once was a comprehensive strategic alliance and joint military manoeuvres is now a minimum of diplomatic representation.

The Turkish government didn't succumb to the Israeli blackmail attempts to instigate Turkish neighbours against it or to pit the Armenian lobby in Congress. It insisted on demanding an apology and financial damages for the massacre that killed nine Turkish activists.

"This courageous Turkish position constitutes a precedent of great importance," he said. "Many Arab and Islamic countries that maintain diplomatic ties with Israel would be advised to follow suit as a response to Israeli aggression and conceit."



Arab Christians are unclear about Spring

It seems that Christians of the Middle East are ambivalent about the revolutions reshaping the Arab world, wrote Mohammed al Sammak in the opinion section of the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad on Friday.

On the one hand, Middle Eastern Christians see the positive aspect of the Arab uprisings, bringing down repressive regimes and carrying the promise of freedom, dignity and human rights. On the other they see no clear alternative to these toppled regimes and dread the ascendance of radical Islamists to power.

"Their misgivings are legitimate; ignoring them would be self-delusion," the writer said. "The fact that Muslims keep telling Christians 'don't worry about it' won't dissipate those misgivings."

What's more, this apprehension lands Middle Eastern Christians into a more serious dilemma: whether to take the side of authoritarian regimes on the basis that they are at least familiar with the scope of that suffering; or face the uncertain prospect of a form of religious fanaticism that, once in power, may infringe upon their freedom of religious practice.

"Middle Eastern Christians have been an essential component of post-independence Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, because they opposed colonisation. But what would be their status the day repressive regimes fall, and they hadn't been opposed to them?"

South Sudan's ties with Israel are worrying

Every state has the sovereign right to establish the diplomatic ties it considers constructive, but the newly established state of South Sudan has taken it a bit too far when it picked, of all places, occupied Jerusalem to headquarter its embassy in Israel, stated the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej in its editorial yesterday.

The move sends an extremely negative message to Arabs and offends the Palestinian cause and the right of Palestinians to establish their own state, with Jerusalem as its capital. Such a decision on the part of the South Sudanese government amounts to "a deliberate choice to take the side of the enemy of the Arabs".

This was not all unexpected, though. Even before the admission of South Sudan as the 193th state in the UN General Assembly earlier this year, its leaders never hid their intention to fully open up to Israel. Their argument has been that a number of Arab states have normal relations with Israel, and Israeli flags flap high in their capitals.

"Such a pretext is not convincing," the paper said. Granted, some Arab nations do have normal ties with Israel, but why would South Sudan insist on having its embassy in Jerusalem, not in Tel Aviv, which is significantly less symbolic?



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk