x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Europeans doubt Mitchell's success

No one, whether Russians, Europeans or Arabs, would like to meddle with the mission of George Mitchell, the US special envoy.

No one, whether Russians, Europeans or Arabs, would like to meddle with the mission of George Mitchell, the US special envoy. The man is the sole mediator, and his mission is the only game in town, wrote Areeb al Rantawi in a comment piece for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor. Mr Mitchell is given a free ride to act in a serene manner as he goes through his mission. "Yet if European diplomats are asked about his chances of success, one hears strangely pessimistic answers such as 30 per cent."

When raising a prospective plan B of referring the case to the UN Security Council, Europeans would say that we do not believe in this, and only Arabs hold this view. "And no one will eventually assure you about a happy ending for either plan A or B." "What about plan C: involving Hamas in the negotiations, in case plans A and B fail? Some might say, there should be no problem and an open dialogue with the Islamic movement would usher in a new phase. And this might be only a matter of time as it is the case with the Taliban and to some extent Hizbullah." But what prevents these talks now? The answer is Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Palestinian Authority, who has incessantly requested Europeans not do so until the whole peace process takes shape.

The London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi declared in its editorial that the decision by the Yemeni government to close down the offices of both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya television channels is wrong.

"The way this was done was uncivilised. It was indeed painful to see security forces enter the premises of both channels, confiscate equipment and badly treat the personnel. " The Yemeni president Ali Saleh has always boasted that Yemen has more than 100 newspapers and magazines. The two stations have greatly served reform  and always advocated the country's stability. "They have dealt with internal issues professionally, and  stood by the government's point of view more than that of the opposition."

Accusing Al Jazeera of exaggerating the scale of events in Yemen is baseless. The Yemeni decision followed a recent trend of cracking down on media outlets as many newspapers were sanctioned and many journalists arrested and tortured. It is inconceivable that the Yemeni authorities would inhibit the media from access to information while it is preparing to launch a fierce attack against the rebels. This newspaper would prefer that the president intervene to stop this campaign against the media because Yemenis may resort to other foreign sources of information, which could be less balanced.

"Many senior officials cabled congratulatory notes to Iraqis in which they hailed the elections. The UN representative in Iraq, for instance, urged all parties to accept the outcome. He was speaking as if Iraq is similar to a western country with no sectarian and ethnic discrimination," observed Wafeeq al Sameraei in an opinion article for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat.

Such a view prompts us to inquire about the criteria some outside observers used to measure the alleged success of the Iraqi legislative election. If we review the whole process, we see that a massive exclusion of candidates took place; and as polling started, many blasts took place in usually stable quarters to discourage voters from participation. Additionally, only a small portion (about 71,000) of one million exiled Iraqis in Syria, Jordan and Egypt voted.

The preliminary results, if not rigged, confirmed that Iraqis still needed more time to overcome sectarianism. Because of mistrust in the proper implementation of western models of democracy, different sects stuck to their candidates. Problems that impeded the course of democracy in Iraq and have caused much of the violence lie in the inequitable distribution of wealth. Corruption, for its part, stands as the major block towards reform and a factor that perpetuates the rule of the most sizeable sect at the expense of political plurality.

Mazen  Hammad, in a comment piece for the Qatari daily Al Watan, revisited the the reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas. He said that little information were provided by the Palestinians in this regard, but Israeli press offered some. Haaretz, for example, affirmed that Egypt was hardening its measures concerning travel permits for Hamas leaders in Gaza and requested that the movement to sign a reconciliation agreement with no conditions.

The move came amid new tensions caused by the erection of a wall between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip and following the murder of a Palestinian policeman by a Palestinian sniper. This also triggered fear in Cairo that other attacks by some small and unidentified groups might cause a delay in the construction of the wall. Meanwhile, the Israeli press talked about change of the strategies by Hamas, either by leaders in Gaza or by those in Damascus, namely Khaled Mishaal, the movement's political bureau chief. There were also some unconfirmed reports that the latter was trying to form a new government in Gaza to replace that of Ismail Haniyeh. The failure to listen to popular demanda to achieve Palestinian reconciliation is  equal to a crime.

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