x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Armenian genocide used to get at Turkey

The Israeli lobby has always stood by Turkey against the Armenians, but after changes in the Turkish position regarding the Palestinian cause, the pressure group started turning against Ankara's interests.

It isn't unlikely that the Israeli lobby in the United States has played a major part in the recent US congressional vote that accused Turkey of committing genocide against the Armenians in 1915, commented Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi. "For it is clear that Turkish-Israeli relations have been on a steady decline since Recep Tayyip Erdogan took his stance against the latest Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip and continued his public calls for lifting the oppressive Israeli blockade on Gaza."

The Israeli lobby has tremendous sway in the US congress. The Israeli lobby has always stood by Turkey against the Armenians, but after changes in the Turkish position regarding the Palestinian cause, the pressure group started turning against Ankara's interests. Though the congressional committee's vote was tight, 23 ayes to 22 nays, it came as a destructive blow to the momentous Turkish efforts towards normalising relations with its Armenian neighbour. Israel has a major stake in Ankara becoming isolated in the region because Mr Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is the only state leader who has not yet been tamed in one way or another by Israeli power and has become "a thorn in Israel's side".

In a couple of weeks the Arab League will be holding its periodic summit, hosted this year in the Libyan capital Tripoli. And because it is due to take place in Col Muammar al Qadafi's republic, the event is sure to have a different feel than the typical Arab summit, wrote Abdullah Iskandar, the managing editor of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat. "Whenever there is an occasion that brings him together with other state leaders, the Libyan leader does not to miss the chance to make his presence noted through a mixture of facetious stories, inconsistencies and carnival-like behaviour."

No Arab League summit would have dodged complete failure had the organisers and the moderators not found a way to somehow contain Mr al Qadafi's fantasies and capricious furies.  This time around, Mr Qadafi will be the chairman of the summit, which is the ultimate opportunity for him to throw anything he likes at his audience. Just lately, on the eve of the summit, Mr Qadafi locked horns with many western countries at once. He announced sanctions against the EU's Schengen states; threatened to stop providing the US with oil; and ordered an embargo and jihad against Switzerland. No one can foretell the outcome of the upcoming Arab League summit, but one thing is sure, the superhero of the event is already on top of the bill.

In a badly directed stage play meant to send signals to neighbours on the other side of the Gulf, Iran claimed on February 23 that it has managed to arrest Abdulmalik Rigi, the leader of the Sunni Balochi organisation called Jundallah (God's Soldiers), without any foreign assistance, wrote Abdullah el Madani, a columnist with the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

"The Iranian story couldn't be further from the truth," the writer quoted the Pakistani ambassador to Tehran, Mohammed Abbasi, as saying. Pakistan had apparently provided Tehran with intelligence without which the Iranians would not have been able to arrest the Jundallah chief, the man who masterminded a number of operations that killed members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The arrest is a big event, perhaps comparable to the apprehension of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan by the Turks.

"But it would be wide off the mark to believe that the Balochi separatist movement in Pakistan and Iran - which fights for the establishment of an independent entity that brings together Balochis scattered between both countries - would consequently lose impetus. Perhaps the contrary is true." This recent arrest could actually lead to more toil for the Iranian and Pakistani security forces as soon as Mr Rigi's followers reorganise.

The time has come for Greece to foot its bills as the country is going through the toughest financial crisis of its modern history, wrote Ibrahim Nafei in the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram. The Greek government announced on Wednesday a number of stringent "austerity measures" aimed at reining in public spending and mitigating the general budget deficit. Measures include raising taxes and lowering public workers' salaries. The fuel tax has been raised for the second time in one month, while annual bonuses have been suspended. The value added tax on cigarettes, alcohol and luxury products has reached 20 per cent.

Of course, as soon as the new measures were announced, trade unions went on strike in different parts of the country, some threatening that the annual bonus cut amounts to a declaration of war.  "The paradox is that the ruling party in Greece, which was voted into power only several months ago, is a socialist party. That is, its typical supporters consist of trade unions. So, through the new measures, the government is liable to lose its followers."

The other paradox is that these strikes can only exacerbate the crisis, not alleviate it. * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi @Email:aelbahi@thenational.ae