x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

A three-party deal to divide the Middle East?

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei downplays UN sanctions as declared by President Barack Obama in his Nowruz address.

Is there any possibility that the antagonism which underlies the relations between the US, Israel and Iran turns into a consensus to assign areas of influence in the Middle East? asked Saleh al Qallab in a comment article for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda. Washington does not envisage military action against Tehran, either now or in the near future. Although Israel makes threats, it aims only to put pressure on the US to get more privileges and strengthen its position in the region.

And even though Tehran is trying to track the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is perhaps meant to maximise its presence in the region to rise to the level of being a "partner in dividing the cake of influence in the Middle East". Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei downplayed UN sanctions as declared by President Barack Obama in his Nowruz address, yet he implicitly indicated that Tehran could be ready to respond favourably to diplomacy.

It should be noted that Iran prevented attempts by Iranian volunteers to fight alongside the Palestinians during recent Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. "This means that Iran in principle acknowledges Israel, with the implication that a three-party political alliance could unite Iran, the US and Israel."

Tariq Alhomayed, in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, reported that the Hamas commander Mahmoud al Zahar has criticised those who launched rockets from Gaza against Israel, describing them as "suspects". Mr al Zahar was quoted as saying that "factions" launched missiles lacking warheads in order to attract media attention, and that officials in Gaza were inquiring about the situation to uncover the truth. Mr al Zahar was widely criticised by Islamist factions and others for the statement, which prompted him to revise his remarks to counter the rising anger against him. He said that Israel would like to take advantage of the prevailing calm to justify its aggression and ultimately get out of its recent Jerusalem crisis. There are two reasons why the Hamas leader spoke out against firing rockets. "He may want to keep the international pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu. And Hamas has faced a real rebellion inside Gaza from other militias, who were against the truce or had different political agenda."

Yet Mr al Zaha's explanation seemed ambiguous and did not show a genuine change of position, but only a reaction against other parties who would like to steal the show. "Whatever the motive presented, Israel should not be given any further excuses that could endanger the Palestinians in Gaza." Rule of law essential after Iraq's elections "Amid the anticipation in Iraq, disturbing signs are emerging as many express concerns about complications that may follow the final counting of votes. This should not happen, however, although worries are expected and justified," noted the UAE newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial.

Tension is mounting as counting enters the final stages, which is normal, but to be suspicious about the results raises genuine fears. Normal complaints and objections will require due consideration in accordance with the law. "This happens in every electoral process across the world, and there should always be a legal framework to govern it. Iraq undoubtedly has one. And it is up to the government to devise the right legal procedure to handle any post-election issues. But what is most important is to put the election behind in order to be able to move to the next stage in the political process." This is a vital transition. Now Iraq should look ahead to manage the many complex political issues through consultation and openness. In this process all political forces should take part, but to reach that level everybody should accept the outcome of the election. This is the key.

"The decision by the British government to expel an Israeli diplomat over the assassination of the Hamas commander Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai is of great importance for many reasons," noted the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

First, it confirms the charges about the forging of British passports by the Israeli's intelligence services, as indicated by Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai's police chief. Second, it offers more evidence for Interpol to prosecute those involved in the crime. The UK government reached this decision after the investigation it undertook in London, Tel Aviv and Dubai. Third, this step might lead other countries - France, Germany, Ireland, and Australia - whose passports were also used in the assassination to take the same measures. Last, it is not clear yet whether the Israeli diplomat was directly involved in the assassination, or if he knew in advance about it.

The UK foreign minister, David Miliban, did not clarify these points in his speech in front of the House of Commons this week. Regardless, the Israeli diplomat's expulsion was a clear message to Tel Aviv. * Digest compiled by Moustapha El Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae