x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Loose relations unties Iran from Syria

"The Middle East is on the lookout in relation to a number of issues: Iran, Iraq, US troops' withdrawal, Palestinian internal conflicts, the peace process and the recent rising political dispute between Baghdad and Damascus," wrote Tariq al Homayed in an opinion article for the London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat.

"The Middle East is on the lookout in relation to a number of issues: Iran, Iraq, US troops' withdrawal, Palestinian internal conflicts, the peace process and the recent rising political dispute between Baghdad and Damascus," wrote Tariq al Homayed in an opinion article for the London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat. It is reported that Iran has lately been engaged in setting new strategic priorities. Iran eyes greater influence in Iraq as seen in the funds that have been pumped into the country in parallel with the American withdrawal. Growing interest in Iraq coupled with post-election events may have left other traditional Iranian allies, such as Hizbollah, short of  financial support. Iranians are truly ready to sacrifice their relations with Syria to win Iraq. For them it is more beneficial to side with Iraq now, if not to turn it into their colony, as many Iraqis might say these days. Such a clear change in the geopolitics of the region, marked mainly by Iran's further empowerment in Iraq, have adverse effects on the Middle East. At the least, Iran will proceed boldly with its expansionist ambitions, and thus strengthen its position to negotiate with the US.

"If the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gets the opportunity to attack Lebanon, he will not hesitate to do so," wrote Bassam al Dhaw in an opinion article for the Qatari daily Al Watan. "In past experience, Israel always made up pretexts for justifying its assaults on its northern neighbour. Today, Israelis seem to be determined to launch a military action and no day passes without hearing Israelis lashing out at Lebanon. Netanyahu  seems to have made a decision and is waiting for an auspicious opportunity to attack." So will the Israeli government get the opportunity it is seeking soon?

"This depends on the attitude of the US administration. President Barack Obama can either succumb to the pressure of the Israeli lobby or push for his proposal aiming at pursuing a peaceful solution to resolve issues in the Middle East." Although the UN Security Council recently decided to keep the status of its UNIFIL forces unchanged, this is not a guarantee that Israelis will put off their plans. "The Lebanon situation is very complicated. Hizbollah is mobilising its forces and it is violating UN resolution 1701," Gabriela Shalev, the Israelis representative at the UN Security Council, has said. Mr Netanyahu has also said that Lebanon would be held responsible if it included Hizbollah in its future government.

The era of globalisation wants to come to terms with the ideological fanaticism that characterised the 20th century and led to devastating warfare, wrote al Sayed Yaseen in the opinion pages of the Abu Dhabi-based daily Al Ittihad.

"Although fashioned according to independent state parameters, modern Arab society has not yet succeeded in stamping out traditional forms of fanaticism and sectarian zeal, which are still fundamental components of its very fabric." If we take a look at the history of faith-related conflicts in Arab society, we would find that the enduring structural antagonism between Sunnis and Shiites has somewhat mellowed over the years only to give way to yet another schism: political Islam versus the Arab civil state.

As a movement, political Islam ranges between moderation, extremism and outright terrorism in its fight against modern political systems. So Arab regimes have no choice today but to introduce radical political reforms to pave the way for democratic practices and liberal thought. "The whole world is looking forward to a new cognitive model that creatively merges growth with fair distribution, and the modern Arab political mind must definitely get involved."

Two crucial Friday sermons held lately - one in Qom, Iran's spiritual capital, and the other in Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic - went two diametrically contrasting directions, commented Atallah Mahajrani in the London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat. "I can say that we are witnessing here a major rift between two types of Islam." During his sermon in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmed Jennati said that the pacification of the national turmoil that followed the last presidential elections should be brought about by the incarceration of prominent reformists like Mir Hossein Mousavi and Seyed Mohammad Khatami.

Conversely, Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, the most celebrated orator in the conservative city of Qom, has denounced the government's use of force, called for the release of innocent detainees and a halt to human rights violations. Before voicing its rejection of violence and arrests, Qom, with all its spiritual might, had been criticising the government openly and had not yet sent a single letter to Iran's re-elected president. "To me this is announcing the end of despotism in Iran," the author concluded.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae