x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Obama's oratory needs concrete follow-up

Addressing the world last week from the platform of the UN General Assembly, the US president Barack Obama announced that Israeli settlement activity in the Palestinian territories was illegitimate, but he did not expand on what that really meant or what kind of concrete action must be taken, wrote Ahmed Amorabi in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

Addressing the world last week from the platform of the UN General Assembly, the US president Barack Obama announced that Israeli settlement activity in the Palestinian territories was illegitimate, but he did not expand on what that really meant or what kind of concrete action must be taken, wrote Ahmed Amorabi in the Qatari daily Al Watan. "Mr Obama not only uttered words without ensuring follow-up, he also said one thing and its opposite in the same statement."

After affirming the illegitimacy of the Israeli settlements, he called on the Palestinians to stop "provocations" of Israel. "In other words, he is asking the Palestinians to end their resistance and capitulate to the settlement policy." In his speech, Mr Obama wanted to show that the United States had the highest regard for the United Nations, but that has not yet been shown by tangible action on the part of his administration. "Had he really been respectful of the UN, he would have started by observing its resolutions: namely, UN resolution No 138 granting the Palestinian refugees the right of return, and resolution No 242 which tells Israel to retreat from the Arab territories it has occupied since 1967."

Was it a figure of speech or straightforward talk when the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would not yield to the Houthis even if the war went on for five or six years? asked Abdul Rahman al Rashed in the comment section of the London-based daily Asharq al Awsat.

However two things are certain: he cannot bear the brunt of a long-lasting wa; and fighting the Houthis on their own terrain is an extremely laborious mission. The Yemeni president is, indeed, facing the biggest challenge since the establishment of the Yemeni state. He knows that the Houthis are not in it alone. They are definitely supported by outside forces and are part of a larger regional conflict that seeks to take down the Sana'a regime.

That is why he was right to stick to his guns and opt for war rather than capitulation to the rebels' demands, which remain rather unrealistic: the Houthi movement seems to want nothing less than a takeover of the central government in Sana'a. But if the Yemeni government does not yet succeed in breaking the Houthi rebels in the next few months, then it will probably not be able to, regardless of how many years the war lasts.

All the figures and data confirm that 2008 was a tough year for the UAE economy, with financial markets and banks significantly affected and colossal urban projects postponed, wrote Abdul Khaleq Abdullah in the opinion pages of the Emirati daily Al Khaleej. UAE growth shrank from 7.4 per cent to negative growth for the first time in a decade as oil prices plummeted from $114 to $59 a barrel. The local stock markets went down by 70 per cent in Dubai and 45 per cent in Abu Dhabi.

"Despite a relative upturn, the national economy has not yet recovered its full vitality. Having the most globalised economy in the Arab world, the UAE has been affected more than other economies in the region by every aspect of the global downturn." In retrospect, it is important to acknowledge that coping with the crisis started slowly and hesitantly, and lacked an accurate assessment of the depth of the crisis. Also, there was no rhyme or reason to maintain inter-emirate competition in the midst of the crisis, "for we are in the same boat", the writer noted. What is more important now is to create federal and local commissions to gauge the aftermath of the crisis, assess the damage and learn the moral of the story.

Thanks to its mastery of "the art of manoeuvring", its surprise politics and unbending nuclear ambitions, Iran has become a regional superpower in the Middle East, confounding western calculations and posing a constant threat to Israel, opined Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Al Quds al Arabi.

On the eve of talks with the Security Council's five permanent member states plus Germany - commonly referred to as the P5+1 - Iran has taken the world off guard twice in a row: first, it confirmed the existence of a new nuclear enrichment facility and, a few days later, it decided to conduct a series of missile trials. True, the US administration has been putting a lot of effort into mobilising a hefty international bloc to tighten the economic embargo on Iran.

But Iran is not such an easy target; it has been under a partial embargo for years now. Iran has "got used to it" and developed ways to bypass it. Doubtless, Iranian weapons look rather primitive compared to the US and Israeli arsenals, yet they are no more primitive than the weapons of Taliban or the Iraqi resistance, which have managed to inflict enough damage. * Digest compiled by Achraf A Elbahi

aelbahi@thenational.ae