x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

A different solution needed in Yemen

"Current international action towards Yemen shows rising worries that violence may expand in a strategic area where trade routes between Europe and Asia intersect"

"Motivated by security concerns, current international action towards Yemen shows rising worries that violence may expand further in a strategic area where trade routes between Europe and Asia intersect," wrote Waleed Nouyahed in an opinion piece for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. "Yet this approach confirms a shortsighted view because it overlooks other local factors that have produced the crisis in the first place."

Yemen's crisis cannot be described solely as one of security. Al Qaeda has not brought in violence, rather it has taken advantage of the situation to export terrorism through local channels that are ready to assume this role. Looking at the crisis from a security perspective can be misleading and cause the West to repeat the same mistakes that have been made in Afghanistan which shares many common denominators with Yemen, mainly the rough landscape and close-knit tribal relations. As such, the cal lfor an international conference on Yemen by the British prime minister is likely to fail even though a military build up might be approved might be formed to address terrorism in this country. In Afghanistan, the US and its allies were too concerned with security, and thus they ignored the real causes of the problem: poverty and literacy. They will repeat the mistake if they decide to engage militarily in Yemen without addressing the roots of violence.

In an opinion piece in the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat, Tariq Alhoayed called for Arab countries to focus more on settling the internal divisions among Palestinians rather than on border tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. Keeping those tunnels working, in fact, serves Hamas more than the Palestinians, and it would be better for them if the Islamic group worked hard towards surmounting its differences with other factions and building together the basis of a Palestinian  state.

The necessity of keeping the tunnels open, as many Arabs demand, expresses their wish to find an exit for Hamas, which is in a deep trouble. It is unacceptable to promote these demands while Hamas is befriending Israel instead of Fatah. Hamas went further in its efforts to deepen the state of Palestinian  division when it announced its own budget worth $540 million (Dh1.983 billion), the majority of which will come from international aid. Hence a question arises: why are those countries ready to give money to Hamas amid such internal Palestinian divisions, which leads to further weakening the possibility of establishing an independent state and the chances of Palestinians in peace negotiations?

"We do not know to what extent the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was sincere in accusing Israeli ambassadors abroad of paying lip service to appease their host countries at the expense of Israel. But we do know how much weird and eccentric the man is," said Mazen Hammad in a comment piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. This came during his meeting with 150 Israeli diplomats where Mr Lieberman shocked his audience when he accused them for not doing enough to defend the honour of the Israelis and their state. He also shocked them when he declined to give them a chance to pose questions or answer back. Many accordingly accused him of acting in a dictatorial manner.

The diplomatic corps complained that there was no channel of communication between them and the minister. "They described the way they were treated by Lieberman as a deliberate humiliation and they asked for a quick explanation."   They also expressed their dismay and confusion about contradicting statements of the foreign minister and the prime minister concerning negotiations with Palestinians. While Mr Nethanyahu considers the possibility of resuming peace talks, and establishing a Palestinian state, Mr Lieberman said another twenty years would be needed before it would be possible to engage in negotiations. 

Dr Abdel Hamid Al Majali, in a comment article for the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai, criticised the ministry of public sector development for being inefficient. This authority,  which was established in 2004, was part of a comprehensive strategy to oversee various government programmes and projects in Jordan between 2005 and 2009. The working documents that followed the establishment of this department came to specify its duties which should focus on overhauling the public sector by restructuring its organisation and by imposing strict mechanisms of accountability.

Now that the 2005-2009 term is over, government insiders confirmed that development plans had never materialised, and therefore the public development department had failed in its institutional role as enhancer of good governance and accountability. "This special ministry did make some efforts to introduce reform in some ministries, but its action was limited because it had no authority to impose change. In most cases, ministries and their related authorities resisted change, hence developing this sector is contingent on many organisational, social and cultural factors that go beyond the capacity of this ministry."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae