x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Attempts to buy the south of Sudan

In a comment article in the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat, Othman Mirghini described the visit to the south of Sudan by the president Omar al Bashir as part of an election campaign with the aim of buying votes in the run-up to the presidential election next month.

In a comment article in the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat, Othman Mirghini described the visit to the south of Sudan by the president Omar al Bashir as part of an election campaign with the aim of buying votes in the run-up to the presidential election next month. It was reported that the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) is under pressure to withdraw its candidate Yasir Arman in return for some economic advantages. It is believed that the sought-for concessions are promoted as steps to foster national unity in the upcoming referendum for self-determination next year. According to southern sources, the SPLM rejected the offer and declared their commitment to its candidate.

The government had also promised the Southerners an extra 40 seats in the parliament, which will give them the right to veto any constitutional amendment. This step was to assure the SPLM that no amendment to the constitution will be introduced that could impede the course of the referendum in January 2011. The ruling party reportedly requested the SPLM to undertake a joint campaign in order to ensure the election results in their favour. This would put them in a stronger position and control the influence of Northern parties, which previously had entered into a coalition with the SPLM, known as the Juba Agreement.

"World oil companies are looking forward to the results of the Iraqi election. The outcome will be very decisive for the oil industry, which is betting on the Iraqi reserves," wrote Randa Taqi al Dine in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat. Now that Iraq issued two oilfield development offers, many companies want this bid. Some proposals are very competitive in light of the potential profit of fields that were underexploited as a result of successive wars and international sanctions. Most companies aspire for a substantial increase in production to a level of 9.5 million barrels a day as per the new contracts for the upcoming seven years.

Yet many international experts are sceptical about the possibility of reaching that level of development. At best, they said Iraq could increase its production by six to seven million barrels a day. According to energy observers, the promises of the bidding companies to help Iraq reach a production capacity comparable to that of Saudi Arabia are utterly unrealistic. For this reason, the Iraqi election is important to determine the future of the country by choosing the right people who will be able to bring about stability. This is crucial to provide optimal conditions conducive to exploiting oil. This would finally boost the national economy after major security, political and economic setbacks.

"The exchange of accusations between Fatah and Hamas are getting out of hand. They have lasted long and are open to further escalation," noted the UAE newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial. Instead of bringing their differing views closer, the two major factions' divisions only grow worse each time the Israelis step up their aggression. Meanwhile, chances to engage in a fruitful dialogue are waning, let alone broad national reconciliation.

The last episodes of this drama came during the incursions into Al Aqsa Mosque and when the Israeli government decided to annex more sites to the so-called "Israeli national heritage". Political tension reached its height as Hamas complained about the closure of the legislative council chamber after it called for a session on Israeli threats to the holy sites in Jerusalem. For its part, Fatah claimed that Hamas would like to use the Jerusalem issue as a pretext to stage a new coup, this time through the legislative council.

This is the best scenario for the Israelis. The more Palestinians are divided and confused, the more the Israelis carry out their plans to enforce their agenda. The latest Israeli incursions should have prompted the Palestinians to unite to face the situation, but unfortunately their political conflict outweighed any other national priority. "Truly this is a self-destructive recipe par excellence."

"The latest meeting held by the Arab peace initiative committee, chaired by Sheikh Hamad bin Jaber Al Thani, prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, at the Arab League headquarters is a serious move towards a unified Arab position," noted the Qatari newspaper Al Sharq in its lead article. "All parties came to agree upon a determined stance in light of the Israeli schemes to undermine the whole peace process."

This meeting will have a great impact on devising an Arab peace "road map" to put negotiations back into shape and ensure American guarantees. Qatar is lift the siege of Gaza. Formally, Qatar demanded that the US administration exert more pressure on the Israelis. The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton urged the Israeli prime minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, to ease the blockade but his government has not given any hints that it is serious about dealing with efforts to revive the peace process. Rather it increased its incursions into the holy sites in Jerusalem, a step widely criticised as outrageous acts by many Israeli newspapers.

"Yet this paper is optimistic about the meeting of the Arab committee, especially if all parties come around to commit themselves to its outcome." * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae