x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Friends of Yemen must set priorities

Yemen should be dealt with in a more comprehensive manner and any rescue plan must set clear priorities.

This week Abu Dhabi will host the first meeting of Friends of Yemen, which is an initiative by the UAE, other Gulf countries and Italy, wrote Ali Al Zakri in a comment piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. Many large countries as well as some international organisations are expected to join the meeting. It will aim to support the efforts of the Yemeni government to tackle terrorism, reinforce security and promoting sustainable development.

"We cannot anticipate the outcome of the upcoming meeting, or what kind of contribution this group could bring, knowing that similar forums such as the one for Pakistan so far has been of little help. Despite this note of pessimism, there is great hope that this forum will work. In light of past experiences, initiatives launched from Abu Dhabi have achieved great success, and this should be no exception."

Members that join the group should adhere, however, to the core issues affecting Yemen. "Friends of Yemen need to help in achieving political reforms necessary to pull the country out of its dire situation. They need to know also that Yemen's real problems are broad and not bound only to economic development, poverty, tribal or cultural causes."  Yemen should be dealt with in a more comprehensive manner and any rescue plan must set clear priorities.

"The same old story. As soon as the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was summoned to a meeting in Washington to resolve the impasse of indirect negotiations, Israelis leaked a rumour that Turkey would soon resume its mediation with Syria," wrote Saleh al Qallab in an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda. "This is aimed to tell the Palestinians that if they stick to their demands regarding Jerusalem and borders, the alternative will be to revive the Syrian track and reach a solution on the pending issue of the Golan Heights."

It is the same old story that reminds us of Israel's policy after the Madrid conference, when it resorted to create a "conflict of tracks" in an attempt to distract the attention of Jordanians, Syrians and Palestinians, by splitting their positions. The aim of Israel then and now is to stall the negotiations process, a situation that has promoted an atmosphere of uncertainty among all stakeholders, especially among Arabs since the Oslo accord. It is less likely that Israel will succeed this time. Palestinians and Arabs have grown aware of this game, and all share a common view that the Palestinian cause is the core regional issue.

"Are we about to see a new outlook from the US president Barack Obama after his historic success in regard to the health care scheme, which his predecessors had failed to impose?" asked Abdul Rahman al Rashed in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

"President Obama also threatened his guest, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that he would devise a peace plan of his own if no progress in the peace process was achieved." But is there any peace plan sponsored by Mr Obama? Nobody has heard of it yet. And even though Mr Obama has his own Middle East envoy and has many times dispatched his secretary of state to the region, "he still he has not shown a serious intention to achieve peace in the Middle East and most importantly translate his promise to the Palestinians to establish an independent state. Mr Obama's opponents are not only Mr Nethanyahu and extremist Israelis, but also the Hamas movement and their supporters." To be engaged thoroughly in the process, he should shorten the timeframe of negotiations to prevent further delays. Mr Obama should take this mission personally and demonstrate the other side of himself, the firm politician, as he did at home when defending the health care bill.

"The frantic campaigns that reign over the political life in Sudan these days in preparation for the next parliamentary and presidential elections reflect a growing  tension between the main political players, international organisations and the Sudanese government," noted the Saudi daily Al Watan.

International observers suggested postpoing the elections on the grounds delays in preparations and especially the large numer of voters who are said to be missing on electoral lists. Khartoum considered the proposal as "interference in Sudan's internal affairs" and threatened to expel the organisations. The most striking positions are those expressed by the EU and the US. Both called on observers to monitor the electoral process and ensure it is free and fair, without interference. Although it acknowledges shortcomings, the US considers the elections as  a major step towards laying the foundations of democracy and the state institutions. 

Political forces need to discuss ways to solve their problems, and international monitors should  stay neutral to provide a good atmosphere for voters to choose their representatives. * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae