x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Gaza militant group seems to be confused

No one knows for sure what sort of political paradigm the Palestinians will adopt once they have achieved their independent state, commented Ahmed Amorabi, a columnist in the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan.

No one knows for sure what sort of political paradigm the Palestinians will adopt once they have achieved their independent state, commented Ahmed Amorabi, a columnist in the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan. But the kind of politics to be undertaken by Jund Ansar Allah (JAA) (God's followers' army) - a small Palestinian organisation in Gaza calling for the establishment of an "Islamic emirate" - is quite confusing. 

"While the leaders of this organisation are raving about this future 'emirate', they have consistently managed to avoid talking about how they are going to oust the Israeli occupation in the first place."  Speaking at length to an Arabic newspaper about the JAA's future plans, one of the organisation's leaders, Mahmoud Abu Taleb, inspired nothing more than puzzlement.  In a dramatic voice, Mr Abu Taleb said his group had planned to assassinate the former US president Jimmy Carter and the former British premier Tony Blair when they were visiting Gaza earlier this year. But why would they? "For we all know that Mr Carter has been one of the staunchest western leaders in criticising Israel," the writer noted. "Well, this 'emirate' myth seems to be a cover-up for some criminal agenda."

The Israeli government is going through a multi-faceted crisis, part of which is internal, having to do with corruption charges the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and another part external, related to Israel's growing international isolation because of its determination to stick to its settlements policy in occupied Palestinian land, noted the leading article of the pan-Arab daily Al Quds al Arabi.

There are two possible ways out of this crisis. The current cabinet could back out of its standing coalition with extremist right-wing parties in favour of a rapprochement, sure to be welcomed by the international community, with more moderate parties. Tzipi Livni's Kadima party would be at the centre of any such new configuration. The alternative is to move into a regional war that mixes up all the cards in the Middle East and the world.

"Recent history shows that Israel tends to have recourse to war every time it faces a severe combination of internal and external troubles. So one cannot rule out that the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, might well come up with any random pretext to set the Arab region on fire once again." Mr Netanyahu would easily prefer to preserve his hardline coalition than to enter into peace talks any time soon.

Analysts have it that al Qa'eda is under great pressure in its strongholds in the confines of Pakistan's tribal areas, and that the network is having trouble locating new recruits to conduct large-scale operations in the West, wrote the columnist Mazen Hammad in the opinion pages of the Qatari daily Al Watan. Al Qa'eda is definitely enjoying less support and its successful schemes have become rather limited in scope since the London attacks in 2005, especially since its traditional outposts in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq are under an ever-stronger clampdown by counterterrorist forces.

Debilitated by US air strikes and wiretapping, the network can only offer disorderly meetings and makeshift preparation for those European Muslim candidates who go to Waziristan to receive instructions on future operations. Some attribute al Qa'eda's growing unpopularity and loss of credibility among Muslims to its sectarian bombings targeting Iraqi Shiites in favour of Sunnis. An intelligence report affirmed that 60 to 70 per cent of information about al Qa'eda members in Saudi Arabia comes from their own friends, relatives and neighbours. But no one can yet proclaim the final defeat of al Qa'eda. It is still capable of striking western targets and its affiliates remain a lethal force, as Robert Mueller, the FBI chief, has noted.

The conditions of women in the Arab Muslim world is continuously deteriorating, and women themselves seem to be to blame for it, just as much as the prevailing socio-cultural environment that surrounds them, opined Zainab Hifni, a regular contributor to the comment section of the Emirati daily Al Ittihad.

"I was completely shocked, like many other people, by the campaign that was led by a group of women in Saudi Arabia under the motto of 'My Man Knows What's Best For Me' - a move meaning to cast doubts on the rights called for by Saudi intellectual women." These women have easily forgotten daily heartbreaking stories of underage marriages and arbitrary divorces in the country. Perhaps "women are women's worst enemies" is a largely true axiom.

Does this tell us that a considerable number of Saudi women are unaware of their civil rights, or are they rather subjected to a systematic brainwashing conducted by educational institutions, with the blessing of media outlets, tricking them into thinking that they are incapable of running their own lives and regularly impugning their intellectual capabilities in order to keep them under the thumb of men?

* Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi aebahi@thenational.ae