x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Firing the commander is not the solution

In the opinion page of the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat, Waleed Nouyahed commented on the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal.

In the opinion page of the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat, Waleed Nouyahed commented on the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan. He characterised it as a struggle between the politicians and military strategists in Washington and the field military commanders in Afghanistan.  The US decision marked a wide gap between troops in action and their overseas commanders. It also marks a discrepancy between military theories and tactics as taught in military academies and the means to apply them in some unconventional environments.

This incident reveals a deep crisis underlying the US approach to military interventions worldwide. Gen McChrsytal  was daring enough to point that out: the US and Nato lack the knowledge to understand the local forces governing the conflict and thus to stage an victory that could dry up sources of terror. Coupled with the lack of knowledge of local factors and the centralised decision-making process, Nato has failed to achieve this objective, although it is both military and logistically superior.  To make a difference, the US and its allies need more than to sack military officials.  They need to study the target's constraints and limitations in order to set plans that fit the local environment, socially and geographically. 

The Lebanese newspaper Assafir quoted a report by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the ministry of education decided to omit some important historic events in its curriculum: the Oslo Accord, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Haaretz argued that the ministry deliberately did so in order to overshadow such crimes as the invasion of Lebanon, including the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and to continue denying the right of Palestinians to establish their own independent state.

This came following a circular sent by the ministry to all history teachers in high schools specifying the items they should teach. Beside important dates in the establishment of the state of Israel, the new curriculum covers military conflicts between Israel and Arabs from 1948 to 1973. On the decision to drop the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the Oslo Accord, the ministry said that there is a need for more time in order to teach recent past events. Yet such a justification appeared inconsistent with another decision to include the peace treaty with Jordan, which was signed in accordance with the Oslo Accord, commented Professor Hanna Bilonca a historian at Ben Gurion University, adding that 28 years - in reference to invasion of Lebanon of 1982 - are enough time to form a comprehensive view about an event and should be taught at schools.

Are western warships heralding war or mere requirements for imposing the new sanctions on Iran? asked Hayat al Houayek Atiya in an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor. Scores of military vessels have passed through the Suez Canal to the Arabian Gulf and taken up positions off the coast of Iran. In the mean time, a top level military delegation was visiting China to ensure Beijing would fully respect the implementation of the punitive measures against Tehran.

 Additionally, the intensive diplomatic efforts undertaken by Israel backed by the US led to Russia voting for sanctions, plus freezing an air defence system that was destined for Iran. So could these successive developments aimed at tightening sanctions turn to preparing the ground for launching a military strike?  Pessimists predict an imminent confrontation by the end of the World Cup. Others with less pessimistic views think that Washington would wait for some time to see the results of the new changes in Afghanistan.

A third view hopes the sanctions would lead to a strong internal reaction without any military involvement by the US. And even this scenario should not be taken for granted as the US administration is constantly under pressure from Israeli lobbyist groups, who could affect decisions regarding Iran.

The UAE newspaper Al Khaleej decried the decision of France to cease the broadcasting of Al Aqsa TV, describing it as a betrayal of the Republic's three guiding principles of "freedom, justice and equality". France should have rather set itself as an example for its European counterparts by defending the fundamentals it believes in. This lets us question France's moral stance about democracy and freedom of expression. Moreover, it lets us also think of how such a democractic pioneer concedes to Israeli pressures by denying the right of such a TV station to defend the Palestinian cause. Al Aqsa TV has the right to broadcast programmes that serve the Palestinian cause, and reveal the true "Israel, being an aggressive racist entity? that continues to refuse to comply with international resolutions". By denying this right, France is seeking to stand by Israel and perpetuate its unjust practices.

The French position should not go unnoticed. The media should stand together to condemn it, and similarly Arab media officials must take the necessary measures with regard to this development. Failing to do this, other Arab satellite channels could face a similar fate. * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi melmouldi@thenational.ae