x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Men of revolution and men of state

Saleh al Qallab in a comment piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda reported that Ben Kaspit, a political analyst, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Maariv that the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, was establishing a "Palestinian state" after he delivered an impressive message before the participants in a conference held recently in Herzliya on the Mediterranean coast.

Saleh al Qallab in a comment piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda reported that Ben Kaspit, a political analyst, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Maariv that the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, was establishing a "Palestinian state" after he delivered an impressive message before the participants in a conference held recently in Herzliya on the Mediterranean coast.

Mr Kaspit had thought that Mr Fayyad's participation would be no more than a mere statement in a general discussion because he had no ready-made notes. Yet, the Palestinian prime minister was very eloquent and the points he raised were coherent and well structured. At no time was he confused or less than confidant. He spoke in fluent English and presented his vision in clear manner: a Palestinian state within two years on the land occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.

Mr Fayyad, added Mr Kaspit, has no definite state yet, but he was brave and knew what he wanted. The Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu, who has a state of his own, was afraid and less able to articulate what he wanted. According to Mr Kaspit, Mr Fayyad is an emerging political figure who is increasingly seen by the Israelis as a threat to the status quo political situation. The Americans and Europeans, on the other hand, are attaching their hopes to this man to effect change based on more practical plans and away from revolutionary slogans.

An audio tape attributed to Saeed al Shehri, the deputy leader of al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula, includes much new information that reveals the immediate and future plans of the organisation, reported the lead article of the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi. Al Shehri affirmed that Osama bin Laden personally oversaw the latest terrorist attempt over Detroit. This means that Mr bin Laden has become able to move freely and supervise al Qa'eda operations and no longer depends on proxy field supervisors as in the past.

Al Shehri also disclosed a scheme aimed at controlling the strait of Bab al Mandhab at the entrance of the Red Sea, through which pass most of the oil tankers and US military reinforcements to the Gulf region and the Mediterranean Sea. To control the strait is not an easy step because al Qa'eda does not have heavy weaponry or modern boats, but this does not mean it does not possess the logistical capacity to, at least, block navigation in this vital international passageway. The movement, for example, can mobilise the Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia or Somali pirates who have grown experienced in intercepting vessels. Recently, al Qa'eda has presented itself as a "transnational organisation" across the Muslim world with a multifaceted strategy. It seems to have empowered its leaders to act boldly.

Western statements about Tehran may seem good news for the Iranians, but that, in fact, is only a fraction of the truth, observed Tariq Alhomayed in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat.

"When the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would produce highly enriched nuclear fuel, France said it was not sure about the possibility of imposing sanctions because of a reluctant China. The US pointed to one remaining option at this stage, which was to exert more pressure on Iran. And even this measure would require common international action." At a first glace, these remarks look like a success for the Iranians, especially since Tehran has adopted, as the German foreign minister called it, a shuffle-and-trick policy to buy time and to abort any coherent international position towards its nuclear programme. The bad news for Iranians, however, comes from the fact that Israel can at any time strike its territory. The Israelis will be expected to increase their diplomatic contacts with the West to convince them of military action, once the possibility of holding negotiations is declared dead and buried.

Is not it time to hold an Arab meeting to address the multitude of threats that face the Arab world? asked the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej in its editorial.

"Israel is beating the drums of war against the Palestinians, the Lebanese and the Syrians. The Iranian issue is taking a new threatening turn. Many spread sedition and many more incite to conflicts, such as in Sudan and Yemen." The tyranny of the Israelis continues unchecked by any decisive Arab move. Moreover, during the six decades of Israeli occupation, the Arab world has been preoccupied with fraternal wars or preparing for them. As for efforts claiming to overcome differences and conclude agreements, they are nothing but a mockery.

"Anything is permissible in the region, except an Arab accord. But it seems forbidden to meet and discuss ways to surmount divisions and reach a strong united Arab position. The present situation will allow for inter-Arab problems to persist to the detriment of their mutual interests." The Arab League is quasi-absent, while it is supposed to actively engage in serious diplomatic efforts to bring views closer. It is hoped this pan-Arab organisation will adopt a systemic plan and increase its contacts with all Arab capitals.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae