x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Arab telecoms under a lense

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's speech last Friday linked the control of Lebanon's phone network to the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination and created fresh tensions in Lebanon, says Bassem Sakajha in Jordanian daily Addustour.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's speech last Friday linked the control of Lebanon's phone network to the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination and created fresh tensions in Lebanon, says Bassem Sakajha in Jordanian daily Addustour. Sheikh Nasrallah's ally, general Michel Aoun reportedly said that Lebanon's fall would be based on international, regional and local interests converging into two fronts: one with Israel and the other internally.

The Secretary-General of Hizbollah expects his party will stand accused of the 2005 assassination. This would in turn, justify excuses to attack the resistance and create domestic chaos. At the same time, he accuses Lebanese leaderships of colluding with Israel to cover up one of their largest spying networks that dominates the telecom sector. "The real issue here is the Israeli spying network and its superiority in every domain." The recent discovery of spies in the telecommunications sector in Beirut is alarming and generates questions about how immune telecom companies are the Arab world. Many could be operating under a hostile microscope.

Pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, in its editorial, said: "Saudi-Yemeni relations can be qualified as highly interlinked due to a common history of territorial and ideological conflicts."

On Saturday, Yemen's minister of education Saleh Basra, asserted that Saudi would not be safe in the event of a Yemeni security collapse. He called on Riyadh to assist Sanaa as it faces its crises. Yemen's call comes at a time when Al Qa'eda is most active in the south of the country. Facing dire economic straits due to depleted resources and state-wide corruption; Yemen must also cope with high levels of unemployment. This in turn leads youth to seek help from extremist organisations.

Prior to the first Gulf War, when Yemen supported Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the kingdom was the largest employment market for Yemenis who remitted up to $ 2bn back home. However, after the war, Saudi deported more than one million Yemeni labourers, adding to the country's plight. Yemen had agreed to territorial concessions to maintain its ongoing interests. But today, as frontiers between the two countries extend to more than 1500 km, a security collapse in Yemen would certainly reverberate in Saudi, as Al Qa'eda's ultimate target is not Yemen, but rather the Saudi ruling regime.

"The US relationship with Israel is a constant that no president, however prone to change he may be, can ever alter", said Emirati daily Akhbar al Arab in its editorial. This relationship blinds the US to any other friendships, interests or priorities. Successive Israeli governments are used to blackmailing US administrations that fear their powerful lobby. Each administration has expressed its affinity to Israel in its own way.

However, Mr Obama's administration has done what none other has. The assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, Andrew Shapiro announced an offer of military and security assistance to Israel to the tune of $30bn over 10 years; the largest of its kind in the history of both countries. Israel, already militarily powerful, will exploit this substantial amount into building additional settlements, for what it ultimately wants is the land. The announcement coincides with the arrival of special envoy George Mitchell to the Middle East region, and comes across as an advance reward for the Israelis, despite no concessions to the expansionist settlements that hold the peace process hostage.

Three days ago, the US envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, arrived in the region to try to kick-start the peace process after the successful meeting earlier this month between the US president Barack Obama and the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, during which the former described the latter as "a man of peace", wrote Ibrahim al Bahraoui in Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

The Palestinian Authority greeted Mr Mitchell with complaints about Israel's illegal efforts in Jerusalem, including the government approval of a whole neighbourhood for settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah district, and the building of two huge hotels in Jebel al Makbar. Both projects were preceded by the expulsion of families from their Jerusalem homes, the writer said. The two projects are part of a comprehensive plan to build 20,000 settlements by 2020.

"These Palestinian complaints expose the flagrant contradiction between the official US testimony that Netanyahu received from Obama during their recent meeting in Washington, and the real nature of the Israeli premier's policies on the ground, which are in breach of all international conventions." * digest compiled by Racha Makarem rmakarem@thenational.ae