x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hamas lost a golden opportunity

If Hamas had not held Fatah members hostage in the Gaza Strip, and thus prevented them from joining their convention, Mahmoud Abbas might have been considerate and released Hamas affiliates from prisons controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, wrote Saleh al Qalab in an opinion piece in the Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida.

If Hamas had not held Fatah members hostage in the Gaza Strip, and thus prevented them from joining their convention, Mahmoud Abbas might have been considerate and released Hamas  affiliates from prisons controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, wrote Saleh al Qalab in an opinion piece in the Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida. Unfortunately, Hamas was unwilling to negotiate the matter. Khaled Meshaal, chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, was himself unable to implement pledges of the Syrian president, Bashar al Assad and senior Turkish officials to find a solution to the Fatah hostages in the Gaza Strip. This shows that Meshaal has limited power within his movement and that the actual leader remains Ahmed al Jaabari, the  leading commander of the military wing of Hamas in Gaza. 

"If Hamas allowed  Fatah members to go to the convention, it  would have established itself as a more responsible national movement. It would likewise have gained the trust and respect of Palestinians and the international community, as well." It is quite clear now that the decisions of Hamas are determined elsewhere and its interests overlap with those of other external powers. By taking this course, the movement will soon find itself the loser, especially as Mahmoud Abbas is very determined to hold elections as soon as the beginning of next year.

In an opinion piece that appeared in the Qatari daily Al Watan, Adham Jaber wrote that since his father was murdered in 1977, the Druze leader in Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt, has been acting in  a manner of his own that has made him a unique political figure. "He, at times, concluded pacts with his allies and, at other times, attacked both his allies and his opponents. For example, when he participated in former prime minister Rafiq al Hariri's cabinets, he used to criticise  him in vehement tones."

Until recently, he was a member of the March 14 alliance but he decided to change colours after he  reviewed his political cards. "He came to the conclusion that Lebanon should not be governed from Syria, nor should it be governed against Syria. He also became aware that the latest international developments were against his interests, and they would  possibly weaken his position.  What is more, for him, the March 14 group is less than a self-dependent alliance and it lacked a clear political platform. 

So Walid Jumblatt  is now neither a member of March 14 alliance, nor a member of March 8 bloc. He is in an "idle" position. He has freed himself from any constraints that would eventually jeopardise his status and that of his sect. In other words, he  changed his political "compass" to defend the close interests of his group and the leadership position he holds.

Yemen's fate is at stake as it is undergoing tough times. It is under threats from al Qa'eda, the Houthi group which has controlled some areas along the Saudi borders for two weeks, and secessionist movements in the south, wrote Tariq Al Homayed in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat. There are also security reports saying that 160 prospective suicide bombers have come from Somalia to Yemen. 

These challenges, in fact, threaten not only Yemen but also the stability of the whole region. "Having said that, what can be done to address the situation first at home, and then prevent it from spreading elsewhere?" Yemen cannot carry out this task alone. Yemen needs outside help, especially from countries in the region. Likewise, Yemen needs a political approach to surmount its crisis, and it is being encouraged to open negotiations with the southerners, the more rational of the groups. Besides, maintaining peace and stability the move should be seen from a comprehensive perspective. This should involve, in addition to an open national dialogue, offering incentives to people of the south. The proposal to grant a form of decentralised governance sounds very plausible and may meeet success. Once this step is successfully undertaken, the Houthi issue can be handled quite easily since this group does not enjoy wide popular support.

The car bombs this week in Baghdad  and Mosul targeting civilians may push Iraq again toward a bottomless abyss of  violence, opined the lead article of the UAE newspaper Al Bayan.  "Amid this unstable political situation, some believe that the recent bombings across the country might have to do with the sectarian conflict." This cannot be true. Take for example, Mosul, which is home to  Sunni Arabs and Kurds as as well as Christians and Shiite Turkmans. Mosul has witnessed a series of attacks that randomly targeted individuals regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

"Iraq will continue its struggle for peace and stability, and Iraqis are growing worried about the ability of  the Iraqi forces to maintain security after the withdrawal  of the American troops from urban areas last June." Yet the biggest challenge to Iraq's stability lies in the potential conflict that may rise between Arabs and Kurds over the oil resources in the north.  The security situation may turn out to have no logic. "The Iraqi government is in an unenviable position, and it has to review its security policies if it wants to come up with more effective plans and put an end to the cycle of violence ahead of the election."

* Digest compiled by Moustapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae