x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Only option for US in Afghanistan is to leave

There remains only one option: handing over security responsibility to the Afghan army and focus on a gradual retreat that will save face.

"While the US administration intends to achieve a breakthrough in Middle East peace, it is taking positions that will widen the scope of the conflict. A glaring example of this is Barack Obama's decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan," remarked Adil Malek in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat. "'We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border," Mr Obama announced, in an attempt to justify his decision.

Yet senior officers in the field claimed that it was impossible to make headway against the Taliban. They favour taking a different course of action, such as opening dialogue. "Ironically though, this solution is categorically rejected by the Taliban's senior leaders, which means terrorism in Afghanistan is likely to continue and will eventually force western troops to withdraw. "As such, what are the alternatives left for the US and its allies? There remains only one option: handing over security responsibility to the Afghan army and focus on a gradual retreat that will save face."

"The Israeli government has exerted great pressure on Europe to block the peace proposal of the Swedish government, which recognises East Jerusalem as capital of a future Palestinian state. Israelis seems to have been successful in imposing their viewpoint as seen in the amendments introduced to the initial plan," said the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi.

This was to be expected, but what was surprising, if not wholly unexpected, was the French position, which sided with Israel. France is openly expressing a biased attitude that backs the occupation and, by extension, its expansionist policies. EU foreign ministers had been expected to endorse the Swedish proposal, not only because it is in line with UN resolutions, but also because it was to be a unified stance from Europe to exert more pressure on the right-wing government in Israel to adopt more moderate policies.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, may jeopardise his country's interests and policies. It also may tarnish his country's reputation as a peace promoter, which previous French presidents had worked to build. Europe, including France, should review their policies because if they continue to support Israel, their peace and security may be at stake.

The UAE newspaper Al Khaleej delineated the difficulties in forging an agreement in Copenhagen in an editorial. "The conference takes place at the height of a global economic crisis that has led to increasing unemployment. According to public opinion polls, the crisis has dominated public interest to the detriment of climate. This means that non-government organisations will be less able to rally public pressure on governments to curb carbon emissions." Another factor that may weaken the public pressure is reports that claim that climate change is not necessarily related to human action.

There is a fear that some may take advantage of this situation to prevent an agreement on reducing emissions. In this context, many in western countries accuse newly industrialised nations, such as Brazil, China and India, for being equally responsible of the changes in world climate. "It is true that emissions from these countries are also high, but if they are measured per capita against those of western nations, they look minor. For this reason, and given their technology and financial ability, the more-developed West has to assume the majority of responsibility to save the planet."

Tehran's foreign policy is like a puzzle - it is hard to decipher, wrote Subhi Zuaitar in a comment piece for the Saudi newspaper Al Watan. "After it had been agreed to process uranium in Russia, Tehran withdrew from its commitment, which dealt a blow to its agreement with the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency, on the grounds that Paris may be involved."

Iran, it seems, would like to enrich uranium from 3.5 to 20 per cent on its own. "And it is capable of doing this. At least this is what the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed. Other top officials stated that in order to achieve that goal, Iran needs to build 10 more plants, yet others claimed that this would be not enough, saying that the right number was 20. Such contradicting statements throw us into a maze, and prompt us to wonder whether those reactor compounds would simply provide nuclear energy for civilian use or for something else."

The issue has taken on a wider scope, which should be monitored closely by the international community. Thus it requires a resolution from the UN Security Council. * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae