x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Israel wants to side with Arabs against Iran

"Is it possible to imagine that Israeli leaders would resolve to establish a regional alliance between Sunni Arab countries and Israel against Iran?"

"Is it possible to imagine that Israeli leaders would resolve to establish a regional alliance between Sunni Arab countries and Israel against Iran? This is actually what the Israeli deputy prime minister, Daniel Ayalon, called for in his speech addressed to the Arab world," wrote Abdul Rauf al Raydi in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat.

Mr Daylon contended that there were some common interests that link Israel with Arab Sunni neighbouring countries, mainly a desire to counter Iran which seeks to impose its dominion in the region. To achieve this, he  would like to deal with moderate Arab leaders. To promote his ideals, Mr Ayalon welcomed the Arab peace plan, but he said it would be more convenient for Israel if it did not include the condition of full withdrawal from the Occupied Arab Territories to enter into normal relations. 

The Israeli official urged the Sunni Arab countries to unite together against the Iranian regime and to protect the region from Shiite radicalism.  His initiative was to crown a "conflict" raging among three regional powers - Iran, Israel and Turkey - over an influential role in the Middle East. Each of these powers uses a different approach to achieve this goal, but all of them seek greater influence in the oil-rich Arab world. 

The desire of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to expand the geographic area of the South at the expense of the North ignited a new crisis between the SPLM and its partner in government, the National Congress, wrote Ahmad Amrabi in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. "The boundary line between the North and South of Sudan was approved at the declaration of independence in January 1956, but the SPLM would like now to push this line further north in order to annex three regions prior to the self-determination referendum. This explains why the movement entered into an alliance with the opposition parties from the North. The SPLM wants to strengthen its position in order to counter the resistance of the ruling National Congress party." It is alleged that the SPLM, in return, would support the northern opposition leaders in their efforts to introduce democratic reform.

But it is still unclear whether the  opposition parties in the north will agree to the SPLM's project. "We understand the demands  of northern leaders for democratic change, but how can we explain their attitude to compromise their own land for some temporary gains?" So far there is no clear-cut evidence that  northern opposition leaders are involved in such a pact, yet their national responsibility is to declare their political stance.

The GCC summit in Kuwait has captured wide attention as it addressed a heavy agenda of concurrent crises: the Houthis conflict, piracy off the Somali coast, the Iranian nuclear programme, the situation in Iraq, climate change and Dubai's financial status, wrote Reem Khalifa in an opinion piece in the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. It is the first time for a GCC summit to be held while one of its member states - Saudi Arabia - is engaged in a military conflict. "The gulf countries' stance towards the Saudi-Yemeni border conflict was confirmed  by the Emir of Kuwait during the opening ceremony when he stated that any breach of Saudi security implied a breach of the security of the GCC countries."

Crises this time are multiple, but the Iranian nuclear programme remains a crucial source of concern for all and it constitutes a strategic challenge for the Gulf states. This will even take on an even greater scale if international sanctions are imposed on Iran. This is why Bahrain demanded that the GCC to be part of the negotiations among the Group 5+1 and Iran in order to ensure pluralism in the security system that is taking shape globally with the arrival of the US president Barack Obama.  There is also need for decisions that take into consideration the opinion of GCC citizens as they call for being involved in decision-making and accountability.

The vast expanses of the Greater Sahara in North Africa and the western coast of Africa are becoming the choice territories for the so-called "al Qa'eda in the Islamic Maghreb" after it lost much ground in confrontations with the Algerian army and security services, noted Tawfik al Madini, in a commnet piece for the UAE daily Al Bayan.

"This relocation was prompted by other causes as well: first, the countries lying along the  west coast of Africa and those that comprise the Greater Sahara - Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania - do not have armies with the necessary equipment and  experience that their  Algerian counterpart has in confronting terrorist organisations." Second, al Qa'eda had entrusted an already established Salafi Group for Da'awa and Fighting with the special mission of establishing al Qa'eda bases.

Third, counter-terrorism experts have expected since November 2, 2006, when the Salafi Group formally announced its affiliation with al Qa'eda, that the Sahara region was in for an uncertain future. Indeed, the region is becoming a major intersection for globalised trade deals and a strategic territory for international competition. And that is part of its appeal for Qa'eda. * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi

@Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae