x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Iraq's politics a lesson for political Islam

Parties with a sectarian agenda are living a state of utter confusion, which results from their inability to put national interest above doctrinal or partisan considerations.

The alliance between Amar al Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and Nouri al Maliki, the prime minister and leader of the State of the Law coalition, was once described as an "unbroken marriage", wrote Tariq al Homayed in a comment article for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat. That bond is loosening and the State of Law has a strong attraction to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiyya coalition. There is speculation that the two political groups could enter into a coalition that will lead to a new government.  The initial alliance between Mr al Hakim and Mr al Maliki was motivated by partisan sentiments, intended to sideline Mr Allawi and those, mostly Sunni, Iraqis who voted for him.

Following this thread of logic, Mr al Maliki appears to be ready to ally with anyone who can help him stay in power. The prime minister has already said that he has no objection to seeing Mr Allawi as the head of the government. This is a new development. The example of Mr al Maliki sums up the state of political Islam in general, especially those parties with a sectarian agenda. They are living a state of utter confusion, which results from their inability to put national interest above doctrinal or partisan considerations.

In a comment piece for the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej, Saad Mehio draws a bleak picture of  America's role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He said that the recent meeting in Washington between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu was intended to achieve electoral gains for both leaders. Stories in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and The New York Times, which both wrote that the summit was intended to restore relations between the two men, proves that all their differences over the past months are now behind them.

The two newspapers stand by Mr Obama in an attempt to portray him as a determined leader ahead of legislative election in the US. Yet these improved relations, argues Mehio, harms peace and, in the long term, fails to serve America's vital interests. Mr Obama might alter his Middle East policy to resemble that of his predecessor, George W Bush. This means that such pressing issues as the two-state solution, building channels of understanding with the Muslim world, and settling the war in Iraq and Afghanistan will be put in the back seat.

"President Barack Obama has reneged on his promise to close Guantanamo within a year of taking office," wrote Mazen Hammad in a comment article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. After six months of halting the repatriation of Yemeni detainees, a federal judge, Paul Friedman, asked the US administration to free the Yemeni prisoner Hussein Salem Mohammed, who was not found guilty. There is no reason to keep him in detention, Mr Friedman told authorities.

This ruling came two weeks after the US returned a Yemeni detainee called Mohammed Hassan al Adini after a decision by Judge Henry Kennedy that there was no convicing evidence proving he had ties to al Qa'eda.There are another 181 Yemenis in Guantanamo, many with convincing proof of their innocence. The US administration is not in favour of repatriating Yemeni detainees on grounds that their country is a breedin ground ground for extremism. This feeling has grown stronger after it emerged that Omar Abdul al Muttalib, who attempted to blow up a plane over Detroit, was trained by al Qa'eda militants in Yemen. Internally, the US administration faces a dilemma. If it continues to prevent the return of Yemeni detainees, the government will sustain a series of judiciary losses. If it cancels the ban, it will be under attack from conservatives, who fear the released detainees will rejoin al Qa'eda.

In an opinion piece for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir, Seatea Noureddine described American media as biased because of the dismissal of Octavia Nasr, a CNN Senior Editor, over a tweet in which she praised Lebanon's Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.

Nasr lost a battle, which she neither waged, nor fought, nor, probably, intended to start. She simply expressed her grief for the departure of Sayyid Fadlallah, whom she admired as a person. Nasr highlighted Sayyid Fadlallah's life as a man who was a moderate cleric, fighting any extreme trend or thought. Thanks to his attitude, he earned not only Nasr's respect but also that of the public. Nasr is not the only one who was dismissed because of her off-the-cuff comments. The veteran reporter Helen Thomas, was forced to resign after making controversial statements regarding Israel.

It is suspicious that Nasr's personal blog was under close scrutiny, and how the decision to dismiss her came almost immediately. * Digest compiled by Mostapha el Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae