x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

When Israel agrees with Iran

Both Tel Aviv and Tehran have good reason to want the Assad regime to hold power, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics: Palestinian leaders' failure, and the Muslim Brotherhood's ambition.

Israel's interests compel it to agree with Iran on protecting the Assad regime in Syria

President Bashar Al Assad did not commit a gaffe when he sent his cousin and closest confident, Rami Makhlouf, to the US in May last year, only two months after the uprising first erupted, to publicly admit that Israel's security would be jeopardised if the Assad regime were to fall, columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed observed in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

"Young Mr Al Assad realises that Syria ranks second after Egypt in terms of Israel's security considerations regarding countries adjacent to it. He is well aware that any relationship with Israel on its own terms would give him considerable political cover and support.

"In fact the Americans, eager to besiege Iran, are extending little support to the Syrian revolution although it would do them the greatest favour of all by toppling their Iranian enemy's closest ally," opined the writer.

A review of international positions and activity during the past 12 months reveals that few developments have occurred in favour of the revolution, although it has widened and deepened.

The regime was teetering last fall until it was rescued by military and economic assistance from Iran, Iraq and Russia. Despite Iran's deep involvement in Syria's crisis and the intervention of Hizbollah to back the regime's forces, as well as the mobilisation of the entire Syrian army and despite the generous flow of weapons into Syria, Israel has yet to issue an objection or a warning as it used to in the past when it saw a threat to its security and the balance of power.

"In the geopolitical map of the Middle East, Syria is a crucial security zone for Israel just as it is the longest-reaching arm of Iran," said Al Rashed. "Both regional powers see the Assad regime as a guarantee for their security."

This explains the US positions towards Syria and Washington's condoning of the Israeli intelligence role in sending Al Qaeda recruits into Iraq. When dealing with any Syrian problem, the US must take into consideration the repercussions on Israel's internal security and stability.

"This doesn't mean that I am accusing the Syrian regime of being an agent for Israel," explained the writer. "But it is a regime that knows its risk limitations and doesn't go over them."

Mr Al Assad succeeded in convincing Tel Aviv that his ejection from power would bring in a radical opposition that would end the system of balance that has been in place between Syria and Israel since 1974, following the disengagement treaties.

Since that date, Syria hasn't fired a single shot from the Golan Heights against Israel, but limited its anti-Israeli action to propaganda and support of armed groups in Lebanon.

"It is my belief that the Israelis agree with the Iranians for once - on protecting the Assad regime," concluded the writer.

Palestinians' leaders are letting them down

What you hear on the Palestinian scene these days is a pure "rhetoric of division" between the two main factions, Hamas and Fatah, whose reconciliation looked possible just a few months ago, wrote Oreib Al Rantawi, a columnist with the West Bank-based newspaper Al Quds, yesterday.

The level of bitterness between Hamas, which rules over the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which governs the West Bank and controls the Palestinian Authority, is reaching a new high since the row that followed the leaking of the Palestine Papers last year.

The Palestine Papers, a cache of sensitive documents, were obtained by the news channel Al Jazeera and allegedly showed that Fatah was making undeclared concessions in final-status negotiations with Israel.

Hamas and large segments of the Palestinian diaspora went berserk at the revelation.

This time Hamas is accusing Fatah of conspiring to bring down the Gaza Strip government by fomenting a crippling electricity crisis, the columnist said. Fatah, for its part, accuses Hamas of being the lapdog of Iran, which opposes reconciliation.

"Flipping the old saying around, what we're doing is actually making one step forward to be able to make 10 backwards," the columnist added.

That, in turn, results in Palestinians feeling betrayed and "wanting to have nothing to do with these two factions, even when they have no third option."

Muslim Brotherhood proves opportunistic

"The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is engaging in an extravaganza of opportunism that could certainly lead it to political disaster," Omar Al Amr, a contributor to the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan, wrote yesterday.

In its latest act of opportunism, the Brotherhood decided to enter the presidential race in Egypt, thus breaking an earlier promise not to do so, after the group had scored a comfortable majority in parliament.

The Brotherhood maintains that its change of heart is justified by the growing concern that the Egyptian revolution may still be aborted.

"Quite the contrary," the writer argued, "the Brotherhood's sudden about-face actually pushes it away from the spirit of the revolution and places it closer to the mentality that generated the old regime itself."

The Brotherhood is not only dominating parliament, but also the national committee drafting the new constitution. And now the movement wants the presidency as well.

Egypt's minorities, and free Egyptians at large, will never take religious dictations from the Brotherhood, the writer said.

Already suffering from internal divisions, the group is putting its success on the line.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk