x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Iran: use diplomacy instead of force

The Iranian nuclear issue will not be solved through isolating Tehran or threatening to use force, but rather through diplomatic and political avenues, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

The Iranian nuclear issue will not be solved through isolating Tehran or threatening to use force, but rather through diplomatic and political avenues, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan. Iran ought to be invited into a large international co-operative process. This wise attitude, expressed by the Russian foreign ministry, has not only the advantage of keeping at bay the spectre of a possible military strike, but also limiting the issue to the negotiations table.

This is the right time to adopt such a position and the Russians chose the perfect time to voice it, just hours after the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, announced his country's willingness to resume talks on all security, political and economic issues, including Tehran's nuclear programme. It is true that Mr Jalili has not revealed all the details of the new deal his country is offering, but he already indicated that it was an improved version of the package rejected by the West last year. The initiative can be seized by the new US administration to invite Tehran to the table, without preconditions, as proposed by the US president Barack Obama himself at the beginning of his mandate. There can be an end to the Iranian nuclear row, if the West reaches the conviction that sanctions and military force are of no use.

The American president's iftar was not an exceptional event, but a mere tradition that has been going on for years now, wrote Satii Nureddine in an opinion article published by the Lebanese daily Al Safir. The event has never been an occasion for announcing new positions or for making new commitments. It is a courtesy meeting that curbs any political appetite.

The president's greeting, "Ramadan Kareem", had a special resonance, but the rest was far from what should be expected from the president of a country where Muslims are torn between sentiments of fear and concerns over their future. They had expected it to be more than an occasion for a greeting, a meal and empty slogans. The speech was overly eloquent, as if in a contest for oration and style, as a some vain attempt to hide the reality of the numerous wars triggered by the president's predecessor. The president was expected to present the balance of several months in office and talk clearly of what he intends to do during his term. President Barack Obama should have considered the iftar he hosted in the White House last Tuesday as an opportunity for a serious talk with the Muslims and not just an occasion for to send empty signs.

The US president was not mistaken when he said that his country's position was firm and considered the freeze of Jewish settlements as a precondition for any negotiations unless the parties to the conflict agree otherwise, wrote Sami al Zubaidi in the Jordanian daily Al Rai.

Indeed, the Palestinian Authority has just broken this precondition and entered into direct negotiations with the Israeli government before any suspension of the settlements had been decided. Worse, the subject of these negotiations is not to halt the settlements, nor is it any of the final settlement issues, but "economic peace". The US president has declared that he would not abandon any of his demands or alter the list of conditions for the Israeli party unless the parties agree to a lesser set of conditions, but the Palestinian flexibility went beyond his expectations. The late Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, was reported to have replaced the word "just" in a "just settlement of the refugee issue" contained in a draft of the Arab peace initiative by the phrase "agreed upon". It is time to stop blaming mediators, Americans and Europeans alike, because we are ultimately more flexible than they are.

An adviser to the Mexican minister of health said that his country had no idea of the range and seriousness of the swine flu pandemic, wrote Khaled al Jenfawi in the Kuwaiti Arabic newspaper Al Seyassah.

The adviser added that the country had taken a series of specific measures that needed to be reviewed. Among these were a ban on travel, school closures, assembly restrictions, intensive use of antibiotics and thin paper masks. On the other hand, a number of actions proved very useful in limiting the spread of disease. These included awareness campaigns, especially in schools, rapid diagnosis, medical treatment and quarantine, hand washing, vaccination and avoiding crowded premises. Schools were only closed when declared cases among students and staff were high, while classroom door knobs were cleaned every two hours and pupils were regularly checked. The Mexican government also pursued a total transparency policy on the issue and exchanged information with health authorities worldwide.

The columnist recommended that his country's health authorities collaborate with the Mexican government to benefit from the country's experience. * Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji mnaji@thenational.ae