x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Political factors behind Iraq violence

In a comment piece for the UAE daily Al Khaleej, Saad Mehio offered two opinions to explain the resurgence of violence in Iraq. "First, some attributed it to security reasons. According to this view, Iraqi authorities overestimated the ability of their forces to control the situation after the withdrawal of the US troops from cities. The government overlooked the fact that the Iraqi army is not fully developed, and most of its members are likely to show as much loyalty to their sects as to duty."

In a comment piece for the UAE daily Al Khaleej, Saad Mehio offered two opinions to explain the resurgence of violence in Iraq. "First, some attributed it to security reasons. According to this view, Iraqi authorities overestimated the ability of their forces to control the situation after the withdrawal of the US troops from cities. The government overlooked the fact that the Iraqi army is not fully developed, and most of its members are likely to show as much loyalty to their sects as to duty."

The government also wrongly assessed the security situation in Iraq. Many officials believed that the US military campaign in its later stages had saved the country from sliding anew into a sectarian war. The American success was not military but political in essence. Violence decreased only when Americans convinced the population of Anbar province to counter al Qa'eda members in their region. Politically, many blame the inefficient policies adopted by the prime minister Nouri al Maliki to combat terrorism. Although he has lately promoted values of nationhood, this shift of attitude has not yet developed to become a national political programme capable of uniting Iraqis. Some also believed that the prospect of a full withdrawal by the US by 2011 has led to a conflict of wills among various political forces.

"Many Arab leaders these days seek to strengthen their relations with Latin America leaders, such as the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva. Yet there are huge differences between the two leaders, both in terms of achievements and style of rule," opined the lead article of the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

While most Latin American presidents came to power through democratic elections, most Arab leaders took office after a military coup or by inheritance. Some have remained in office for decades. "Lula da Silva shows a unique model of governance. He is not a descendent of a rich family, nor is he a graduate of a world-class university. He was simply a man elected because of his thoughts rooted in socialism and the labour movement in his country. But when he took power, he absorbed the capitalist system and managed to achieve an economic boom. More than that, unlike Arab leaders, he never thought of changing the president's tenure to three terms." Brazil's success story can encourage Arabs to consider it as a model of development. The UN General Assembly in September could be a good opportunity for Arab diplomats to increase their contacts with this country and its neighbours. "It is therefore in our interest to ally with them and form a strong front to support each other."

In a comment piece in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan, Makran Mohammed Makram wrote that the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak went to the US while the US president Barack Obama was putting the finishing touches on a more comprehensive plan to contain the crises in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that the US president is determined that Israel should freeze all its expansion plans and comply with the roadmap's terms and conditions. His initiative would give Arabs hope that an everlasting peace could be achieved. Their spirit should also be highs as they have witnessed that Americans have taken less biased stances towards various Middle East issues. "Certainly, President Mubarak has ensured his American counterpart that Arabs without exception are willing to achieve peace. They are determined particularly to implement their commitments as stipulated in the Arab peace proposal, which links full normalisation of relations with Israel to its withdrawal from lands it occupied after the 1967 war.

"Final settlement will also depend on Hamas's acceptance of establishing a Palestinian state and positive response to the American approach as long as it satisfies the basic demands of Palestinians. This was exactly what motivated Fatah during its last convention to stress negotiations as a means to achieve peace and attain a just settlement of the Palestinian cause."

What is going on in the West Bank and East Jerusalem demonstrates that the peace process is likely to remain stalled, opined the lead article of the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. Unfortunately, the Americans believe that the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Nethanyahu will remove illegal settlements by 2010 as he promised. "The US president Barack Obama welcomed the attitude of the Israeli premier and described it as a right step forward. He therefore wanted Arab countries and Palestinians to take steps which he termed as trust-building moves with the Israelis."

It seems that American are getting romantic with the idea of peace. "Had the Americans investigated closely what was  happening on the ground in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, they would have had realised that chances to achieve peace are very small as long as the Netanyahu government continues its policy of settlement expansion. "The Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week disclosed a new settlement project in East Jerusalem initiated by the extremist group Elad and aimed at building 104 houses and a synagogue in the heart of Ras al Amud district, where 14,000 Palestinians live."

It is such provocative acts that discourage the revival of the peace process. * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae