x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Al Maliki is unlikely to win vital support

The seeming support of the US is not a guarantee for al Maliki to stay in power: he may cause neighbouring countries to look for another man who would not provoke them.

"The rumoured assassination attempt against the Iraqi premier, Nouri al Maliki, a few days ago was not only a reminder that he was engaging in a suicidal political process, but also an indication that the election, which was considered as an overture, could not alone ensure the desired stability of Iraq," observed Satea Noureddine in a comment piece for the Lebanese daily Assafir.

The alleged incident was a sign that his internal detractors rejected him as prime minister because he is a somewhat independent figure and embodies a strong Iraqi. He is also detested by neighbouring countries, which prefer to see another person leading the new government regardless of the electoral majority. The US also shares the same attitude though it tends to rely on Mr al Maliki upon the recommendation by its military commanders in Iraq who would like to have a familiar partner in the run-up to the US troop withdrawal.

Yet the seeming support of the US is not a guarantee for Mr al Maliki to stay in power. Thus he might be associated with the occupation and become a favoured target for the national resistance. More than that, Mr al Maliki may cause the neighbouring countries to look for another man who would not provoke them. "In this case, there is a fear that the Iraqi election would be a transient moment without a positive impact on Iraqi politics."

"A battle of wills is being waged in Lebanon over whether it should take part in the upcoming Arab summit in Libya," wrote Tariq Alhomayed in a comment article for the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat. "The government is torn between a keen desire not to boycott any summit and internal pressure to not participate in the backdrop of the case of the Shiite Supreme Council's founder, Imam Musa al Sadr, who went missing during an official visit to Libya in 1978."

At issue is a threatening statement by the Amal member of parliament Hani Qubaisi, who said that the Shiite political forces will take a firm position in case Lebanon goes to Tripoli. "We do not want to go back in history when the Shiite community was marginalised and denied a political role," he was quoted as saying. He added that his group would not be part of a government that is involved with Libya in any common political action, either through the Arab summit or through any other activities.

"The intriguing question here is what is the point of such a statement by an MP close to Nabih Berry, who is involved in the establishment of a supreme authority with the aim of abolishing political sectarianism in Lebanon?"  Thus it is a puzzling attitude now to flirt with sectarian feelings to achieve Amal's goals and provoke its opponents.

As the European Union joined the international community to denounce Israel settlement policies, the club of anger widened, the UAE newspaper Al Bayan wrote in its editorial. "But the declared attitudes did not go beyond expressing distress, no more, no less. No one has yet dared to ask the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to reverse his latest decision to expand settlements." Although the expansion activities upset all, and its timing was deliberate, no one called in definite terms for the abolition of the infamous Israeli decision. On the eve of her first visit to the region, the European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, revealed that the EU could use its strong trade links with Israel to exert more pressure to resume peace talks. The Swedish foreign minister, for his part, expressed his country's uncertainty about Israel's commitment to the peace process. The Spanish foreign minister as well as the Quartet committee expressed similar views.

But this is not sufficient. There is rather a need for concrete action, especially by the European Union which is the major trade partner of Israel and can call on it to promptly redress the situation. This is because Israel has a record of creating problems to impede the course of talks, and this time it should be forced to annul its decision as a precondition to any eventual negotiations.

The Sudanese newspaper Al Ayam mentioned in its lead article that the number of refugees in East Africa is about 750,000, and that Sudan expects their voluntary return. Yet many of them are still hesitant, as indicated by the Kenyan press, because they do not know about the political situation, especially in southern Sudan.  Although they complained about the difficulty of life in the camps, refugees are still undecided about going back home because they are uncertain about whether Sudan is stable and safe enough. "Herein lies the responsibility of the vice president to brief them on the latest developments in the South and assure them of the stability in the southern provinces following the signing of latest peace agreement."

The Sudanese People's Liberation Movement can also play a part by touring refugee camps scattered in East Africa to convince their inhabitants to return home. To encourage refugees to come back, there should be a comprehensive plan to integrate the returned southerners into active life by providing basic services and employment opportunities. To do so, the government needs to raise funds either through the public budget or through support of international donors.

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