x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

A necessary evil, or an avoidable risk?

The last speech of the Hamas political leader, Khaled Meshaal, carried a significantly more flexible tone regarding the inter-Palestinian dialogue with Fatah, wrote Hani al Masri in the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam

The last speech of the Hamas political leader, Khaled Meshaal, carried a significantly more flexible tone regarding the inter-Palestinian dialogue with Fatah, which justifies new, if tentative, hope for the success of the sixth round of talks currently held in Cairo, wrote Hani al Masri in the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam. This dialogue, which can otherwise be criticised for excluding other parties and independent national personalities of high calibre, has adamantly focused on the formation of a new "committee of factions" that would simply worsen and give a legitimate framework to internal divisions, the columnist said.

"The factions' committee is not at all a necessary evil, rather a danger that can be shunned." True, the differences that led to the failure of a national reconciliation government point to serious structural rifts between the major factions, but these rifts remain bridgeable. There is always a possibility to form a government premised on the intersection of national, Arab and international legitimacy, committed to international law and UN resolutions, and willing to abide by agreements signed with Israel, despite the latter's elusiveness. Pitched as an alternative to a national government, "the factions' committee actually annihilates all hopes for unity and impedes presidential and parliamentary elections".

"The recent statements by the US Vice President Joe Biden on Iran bear severe implications, and signal a probable change in the US policy on Iran's nuclear programme, especially that he gave Israel the green light to do whatever it deems fit to counter Iran's threats," thus opened the leader of the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

That the US will not stand in the way of Israel if the latter is ever to take muscular action against Iran means one of two things: either the Obama administration has withdrawn its "stretched hand policy", coming closer to Tehran and start a new phase of dialogue; or, Washington is capitalising on the recent riots protesting the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to weaken Tehran's position prior to US-Iran talks.

"Whatever the case, Biden's words call to mind the rhetoric maintained by the neo-conservatives and correspond to their principle of generalising war and chaos and cashing in on the internal affairs of states to stoke ethnic and sectarian divides, with the ultimate aim to expand Israel's regional influence." All US moves will have to be watched carefully in the near future, as the numerous fronts Washington has to contend with - Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan - render its foreign agenda rather fickle.

When the economy was thriving in Kuwait, in the recent past, significant numbers of Kuwaiti workers were hired in the private sector, particularly in finance, investment and banking, but now there is growing concern about the waves of nationals who, due to the global downturn, have been laid off from the private sector and are now looking for a niche in the public sphere, wrote Shamlan Youssef al Issi in the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan.

Reinserting dismissed nationals in government positions or granting them a temporary compensation will not solve the issue, it will only exacerbate it and push the country into some odd form of socialist regime. To be effective and long lasting, the solution must seek to strengthen the very structures of the private sector to allow it to accommodate massive national labour and, in turn, profit from local expertise.

"It is of critical importance to match the quality and product of schools and training institutions with the needs of the job market," al Issi wrote. It is also imperative that the government launch fresh campaigns enticing foreign companies to re-invest in the country by ensuring financial backing and room for free experimentation. Considering the challenges of the next phase, Kuwait can no longer be allowed to keep relying on oil, al Issi wrote.

Emirati diplomatic efforts have come to fruition as the country won the bid to house the coveted International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) in Abu Dhabi, thus inaugurating a new era for the Arab presence in international relations, but the news was strangely understated in the Arab media, commented Khalid bin Qaqah in the Iraqi daily Azzaman. In the 1960s, the major concern for Arab diplomacy was to regain self-confidence after the defeat against Israel. Then the 1978 Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt came to undermine Arab unity. And now, here is a colossal achievement by an Arab state, but it goes almost unnoticed on Arab television, without the least justification.

What the Arab media have failed to underline is that the Irena feat reveals a number of important facts, the writer said. "UAE diplomacy is ushering the Third World into a new phase on a number of levels: restructured relations with the West, a modified public image, involvement in global culture and providing prospects for development." The UAE's strong relations with various nations around the world have definitively altered the general perception that developing countries have only secondary roles to play in such vital matters as alternative and renewable energies.

* Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi aelBahi@thenational.ae