x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Africa comes under the limelight

The dramatic focus on even minor conflicts by the western media reflects a desire by the old colonial powers to exploit the continent's riches by benefiting from the prevailing chaos.

Africa, a weakly governed continent, has again raised the interests of world powers to re-explore it, observed Khaleel Qindeel in an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor. Africa is brought into focus in the media as a virgin land of vast geography, but also a site of endless coups and turmoil. It is broadly depicted in negative terms as the heart of darkness, where primitive medicine, paganism and tribal divisions are the norm. And if there are states, most lack the pre-requisites of modernity.

On such account, it could provide a breeding ground for growth of religious fundamentalist groups, which might, at any time, wage devastating sectarian wars. In Somalia, for example, chaos reigns as deadly street fighting continues, and off the country's coast the piracy is in full boom. In Sudan, the ongoing conflict in Darfur and the shaky peace accord between the South and North threatened the unity of the country. In Nigeria, sectarian clashes have made the headlines and led to the death of scores of innocent civilians.  The dramatic focus on even minor conflicts across Africa by the western media should not go unnoticed because it reflects a desire by the old western colonial powers to intervene again in the continent. It is a desire to exploit its riches by benefiting from the prevailing chaos.

"We need to welcome, but cautiously, the condemnatory attitude taken by the US, the Quartet committee and most of the capitals of the world towards the provocative Israeli decision to build an extra 1,600 housing units in the occupied East Jerusalem," noted the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai in its editorial.

Some of the international community's statements reflected anger and a sense of deep humiliation. The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton saw in the Israeli decision not only a blow to the American efforts to broker indirect peace talks, but also disrespect of the US vice president Joe Biden, who was in Tel Aviv just moments after the announcement. "We hope that mounting anger be translated into practical action during the Quartet's meeting this week because it is time to stop Israel from acting irresponsibly."

Indeed it is no longer acceptable to stay silent about this intended "hysteria" caused by Israel, which could further destabilise the region. It is no longer acceptable also to stand motionless while Israel through its extreme right-wing government pushes forward its occupation agenda and imposes a policy of fait accompli, which will impede the course for Palestinians to establish their independent state. It is time for all those who still believe in international human rights to force Israel to comply with international law or adopt a policy of isolation towards it.

"It is good to hear that the world's richest person this year, according to Forbes, is Carlos Slim, a Mexican of Lebanese origins. Yet I am wondering whether he would have been able to amass his fortune if he was operating in an advanced country that applied strict economic control standards," wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed in an opinion piece in the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

Most rich Arab businessmen, or those from Arab origins, have made their money in non-productive markets. "They never appear on the list those who accumulated their fortune in Europe, the US or Japan, where transparency applies." There are hundreds of real estate owners in the developing world who in a minute can make billions of dollars as profit. So could they be classified along with Bill Gates, for example, who steadily built Microsoft which has altered the world around us?

With respect to many honest wealthy Arabs, who have contributed to their nations' development, "the true rich are ghosts without names and some are only the reflection of others. Their wealth is falsified in the same way as election results and university degrees." By adopting the same standards, Forbes fails in its evaluation of the developing world billionaires, and hence misinforms the public.  

"I have before wondered whether a deal would be possible between Iran and the US. It is possible to envisage an overture because both of them share a high degree of pragmatism," wrote Saad Mehio in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej. Both countries, although demonstrating mutual animosity, could change their attitudes and comes to terms with each other if necessary. Iran once welcomed the US invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq because it suited its geopolitical interests." The US also broke the ideological conflict between capitalism and communism when it endured a strategic crisis by holding summits with communist leaders to ease the situation. So is the US caught again in the same strategic situation? Many US officials rule out the idea of invading Iran, and any large-scale action could rebound negatively on US vital interests in the region. The US also believes that any sanctions not involving China and Russia will not work. Thus it is possible that US may come finally to accept a deal with the Iranians, but no one can envisage its outlines or in what way it will serve the strategic goals of the Americans.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae