x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

A calm approach to Egypt-Sudan dispute

The Halayeb Triangle dispute is a distraction from both nations' priorities as they face respective, and more pressing, issues of water and security.

"There is no clear reason for the crisis beginning to take shape between Cairo and Khartoum over the Halayeb Triangle," wrote Samir Said in an article for Emirati daily Al Khaleej. The Halayeb triangle overlooking the Red Sea has been a source of tension between the two countries since 1958, when Sudan gained independence from British-Egyptian rule. The issue was laid to rest, until recently when President Omar Bashir claimed in a speech that Halayeb was a Sudanese territory, to which Egyptian diplomats objected strongly.

This budding crisis is misplaced especially because both countries are facing strategic threats. Sudan is dealing with the separation of the south, which many think is only a matter of time now. Egypt is dealing with an existential menace relating to the Nile water issue and the Nile basin states alliance against it. "Egypt and Sudan must contain this crisis and focus their efforts on the challenges ahead," opines the writer. Sudan has repeatedly called for renewed Egyptian involvement to support both countries security. A new rift between the two countries is unreasonable. All endeavours must be directed at renewing their co-operation. Only then can they resolve their outstanding issues.

King Abdullah's participation in the G20 summit in Canada and his subsequent visit to Washington, where he received a warm welcome from President Barack Obama, seems to have provoked Iran and Israel, says Tareq Al Homayed, the editor-in-chief of pan-Arab newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat.

Israel and Iran have been systematically attacking the kingdom and undermining its efforts of mediation in matters of regional security. In fact, the Israelis themselves revealed that they've been lobbying in Washington to stop a Saudi deal to purchase F-15 jets. Israel is keen on maintaining its military supremacy in the region at the expense of everyone else. However, the question that arises here is: when will Washington stop protecting Israel?

"Instead of seeking more armaments and hence more animosity, it would be better for Israel to tilt towards peace and respond to all the endeavours to achieve peace on all fronts, " says the writer. Peace would be Israel's best shield. It would be it's best guarantee - more powerful than any weapon, as weapons cannot protect against hatred nor achieve security. This is the message to get across to the Americans, especially US citizens who are starting to voice their indignation at having to pay the bill for Israel's security and welfare.

In an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai, Dr Fahd al Fanek wrote about the common Arab projects that are almost always destined to failure "because the contracting states don't respect their obligations and conduct their business selfishly in a way that hurts trust." There is plenty of proof from failed Arab common projects, the latest of which involved the Egyptian gas distribution network, when Egypt refused to deliver Jordan the agreed amounts of gas for the agreed price.

Jordan had contracted with Egypt for a 360 million cubic feet of gas per day. However, only 210 million cubic feet are being delivered, as it seems that Egypt isn't happy with the price it committed to. The situation caused Jordan a 40 million dinar loss during the first five months of this year. Jordanian business people based their investments on the expectation of using Egyptian gas. Although Egyptian gas is transited to Syria by Jordanian pipelines free of charge, Egypt still doesn't observe its commitment.

The companies and institutions that are suffering from such disrespect are saying that all their endeavours have been to no avail and that promises they were given have not been fulfilled. It appears that the issue has become political and can only be resolved through political channels.

Yemeni opposition parties expressed their grave concern at the renewed fighting and acts of reprisal between the army and Houthis in provinces of Saada, Amran and Sufian, wrote the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi. In a statement issued on Monday, an opposition coalition called on citizens and all parties to take a rational stance and avoid military confrontations, which serve the warlords. It also urged both the government and Houthis to shoulder their responsibilities and meet commitments to end the war, and to address the situation of displaced people. The coalition also stressed the necessity to release war prisoners and work for peace by adopting more policies that encourage tolerance and political reform. This, it said, is a necessary step to normalise politics and encourage various constituents of Yemeni society and political actors to accept each other.

This came following official reports of violent clashes erupting on Monday between the government forces and Houthis in the Al Amshiya area that left scores dead on both sides. It was confirmed that the army managed to defeat Houthi militias with the help of loyal tribes, which had been fighting them for a month. * Digest compiled by Racha Makarem @Email:rmakarem@thenational.ae