x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Lebanon appears safe for now

"The Lebanese can't help but feel reassured by international guarantees of the improbability of a new war in the Middle East," wrote Zayyan for Lebanese daily Al Nahar.

"The Lebanese can't help but feel reassured by international guarantees of the improbability of a new war in the Middle East," wrote Zayyan for Lebanese daily Al Nahar. Until the situation in the region clears, all mediation efforts will continue on the highest levels to exclude the causes of war. With much pride, the Lebanese watched their prime minister, Saad al Hariri, presiding over the UN Security Council and conferring with the US president. Such positive developments confirm to the Lebanese and to the world that Lebanon is effectively back in the forefront of the international political map.

Beirut received a series of assurances that efforts exerted in various capitals of the world have in fact yielded positive results, especially regarding the Israeli threats and claims which created an atmosphere of fear. It turned out that the "Scud" issue was nothing but a figment of the Israeli imagination and served a purpose known only to the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Prime Minister Hariri was able to defuse many of the mines laid in his way. He asserted once again that peaceful dialogue and diplomacy are the only way to resolve the Middle East crisis. "No party in the region can afford to keep the Middle Eastern gunpowder barrel so close to the Israeli fire," concluded the writer.

In its editorial, Emirati daily Akhbar al Arab declared: "The defects of American policies in the Middle East are numerous for it does not know where its true interests lay which prompts it to form strategic alliances with powers that hurt its interests on the long run." The past three decades abound with examples of US shortcomings. America allied with radical and extremist forces to achieve targets that did not serve its purpose. It helped in producing violent and destructive powers in many countries, which soon metamorphosed into the military powers terrorising the world.

America adopted Israel as its eternal strategic ally, which contrasts with its pragmatic vision which seeks benefits in every relationship. Israel no longer scares the Arab countries nor does it push them to serve US interests. That was an era gone by and American policies have defected from their original objectives. Israel has become a heavy burden on its ally. Its powerful lobby now controls the direction of US foreign policies. The annihilation of Iraqi power was an old Israeli dream. It weakened the Palestinian position through creating internal divisions. All these manoeuvres will not resolve the Palestinian issue. However, the multitude of such manoeuvres only proves the failure of US and Israeli policies.

The Turks have staged a strong comeback, demonstrating a strong interest in the region's most thorny issues, observed Abdul Rahman al Rashed in a comment piece for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

"Now they are a party in multi-fold negotiations: a negotiator with Israel and Iran, an influential force in Iraqi politics, and a potential mediator in the Somali crisis." Yet, one can question such a diplomatic surge in the Arab world and asks whether Ankara is genuinely sincere about helping to overcome conflicts, or is it simply interested in winning political points? The immediate response is Turkey plays on many fronts, but we cannot decide yet its true aims.

One could argue that Ankara wants to use its relations with the region in order to empower its position, and so its euro membership profile. Another issue of concern relates to the role of Turkey as a Nato member and a strong US ally, and how that would affect its relations in the future with the countries of the region. Irrespective of these unanswered questions and worries, Turkey boasts a good reputation thanks to its neutral stance towards many of the regional issues in the past decades. This, in theory, would qualify it to be an active player, yet the nature of the prevalent crises in the region causes it to face immense challenges.

"Is a regional war necessary?" This is the question posed by Salah al Qallab in a comment article in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda. The present critical situation might lead to an imminent regional war that would be followed by peace efforts to contain the crisis. This happened following the first Gulf war and the October 1973 war. Currently, the region is facing multiple challenges. Iran is grappling with its internal and external problems, while its neighbour Iraq is under threat of a new wave of violence. Yemen and Lebanon can in no time enter a new phase of endless violence and chaos.

Based on the classical theory saying that peace comes after war, there are two probabilities: either the region is on the right way to solve its problems or it is fatally on the brink of a new series of wars and conflicts. "Is it possible to say that the last two aggressions on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza in 2008 should have led to some sort of peace? Unfortunately, there are no positive signs that indirect negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis will achieve a breakthrough. Moreover, if new military conflicts take place this time, they will be devastating and on a large scale, and will certainly change the political map of the region.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae