x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Lebanon caught in a political cul-de-sac

"As the formation of new government in Lebanon has staggered forward, the country is truly living a political disaster. It is possible then that no new executive team will emerge this year," wrote Bassam al Dhaw in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

"As the formation of new government in Lebanon has staggered forward, the country is truly living a political disaster. It is possible then that no new executive team will emerge this year," wrote Bassam al Dhaw in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. There is a fear that the political crisis could turn to a crisis of nationhood as bonds of trust between various political forces are growing looser, which could lead to a new surge of sectarian conflicts. Political actors are not ready to free themselves from external pressure, "or in other words, they do not want to draw a line between the necessities of external factors and the imperatives of national interests".

In this situation, the local powers do not seem to be taking the initiative to form the government. Most feel they have to wait for the verdict of the international court on the assassination of the former prime minister Rafiq al Hariri, and the outcome of the meeting of the six countries concerned with the Iranian nuclear programme which is due to be held by the end of this month. Regardless of the outcome, both events will determine the political outlook of Lebanon as Israel has a clear determination to attack the resistance under a new pretext.

"It is not acceptable to see Arabs engaged in a complicit silence as if they are not directly concerned with what the Israelis do against the Palestinians," opined the lead opinion article of the UAE-based newspaper Al Khaleej. The Israeli government recently intensified its settlement expansion in the West Bank before the temporary freeze required by a US request.

This clearly indicates that Israel is less desirous of a comprehensive peace, and is not ready to give concessions. Moreover, it is less likely that it will implement any of the decisions taken by the international community in favour of the peace process. "Having said this, one does not need a deep analysis to understand that Arabs are now in an unenviable situation as no individual or common Arab position has been expressed to denounce these intransigent policies of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Nethanyahu, and his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. Arabs know that Israel is derailing the peace process, and they can either accept the situation as it is or revolt against it. It is up to them."

Sweden is rightfully refusing to apologise to Israel after a national newspaper published a report on Israel's trading in Palestinian organs, wrote Fayez Rashid in an opinion piece run by the Qatari Arabic daily Al Sharq. The report angered Israeli officials beyond reason, starting with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. They all accuse Sweden of anti-Semitism and of using double standards. They want an apology and a condemnation of the report. No issue has ever gained such absolute consensus between the Israeli right wing and the so-called left as the Swedish report.

On the other hand, Sweden has made it clear that it won't apologise to Israel, as the report falls under press freedom legislation. The expected visit by the Swedish foreign minister to Israel won't change a thing.   The contents of the report cannot be refuted, as Israel has a long history in this regard. Palestinian detainees have always been submitted to every form of violence. They have been isolated in narrow individual cells, put in overcrowded rooms and provided with little medical care.   The Swedish ambassador to Israel condemned the contents of the report but her government pointed out that the diplomat took an individual initiative. Sweden will remain committed to the principle of press freedom and will not apologise to Israel.

The terrorist act that targeted Prince Mohammed bin Naif, the Saudi assistant minister for security affairs, was planned and prepared in Yemen, where al Qa'eda's Arab peninsula chief, Nasser al Wahishi, is based, together with his Saudi assistant, Saeed al Shahri, wrote Suleyman al Aqili in the Saudi daily Al Watan.  

The operation cannot be the act of a criminal gang. It was clearly technically, and probably financially, supported by a professional intelligence service, which cannot be Yemen's, because it itself is at war with al Qa'eda.    A foreign intelligence service is involved and Iran is a country with a clear interest in Saudi Arabia's instability. The kingdom stands as an obstacle to Tehran's plans to expand its dominance over the Arab region.

Iran is convinced that the local powers limit its hegemony in the region and destabilising their internal security will open the doors for Tehran to conclude major deals with with the West. To achieve this, Tehran would not hesitate to use terrorism to hit its "competitors".  Tehran and al Qa'eda currently share the same immediate interest and objective of destabilising Saudi Arabia. * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi

melmouloudi@thenational.ae