x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Rafsanjani's silence obscures deep game

In a comment piece for the London-based daily Al Sharq Al Awsat, the editor-in-chief Tariq Alhomayed describes Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, as "the flare that keeps the torch of the Islamic republic lit".

In a comment piece for the London-based daily Al Sharq Al Awsat, the editor-in-chief Tariq Alhomayed describes Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of both the Expediency Discernment Council and Assembly of Experts, as "the flare that keeps the torch of the Islamic republic lit". Rafsanjani is one of the cornerstones of the regime, and the recent events will likely further strengthen his role. It is reported that he is in Qom trying to organise a political movement.

"This is an indicator that the battle for power has become clear. That Rafsanjani went to Qom means the Asembly of Experts would like to decide against welayat-el-faqih, the concept of the guardianship of the Islamic jurists." It appears also that his silence has been a means to monitor the situation and assess how the supreme leader has handled the current crisis as well as the impact on the revolution. According to the paper's sources, Rafsanjani is considering the creation of a council of common leadership, or pressing the supreme leader until he concedes to hold a second round of elections, concluded the writer.

June 30 will be a special day that has already drawn the attention of Iraqis, neighbouring countries and the US, wrote Satea Nourredine in his regular column for the Lebanese daily Assafir. "It is a real test for President Barack Obama, who is resolved to resume the war against al Qa'eda and its Taliban allies as he settles the long-waited issue of the withdrawal of the US troops from Iraqi cities and residential areas."

Definitely Mr Obama will not step back from this decisive move, nor forsake his plan to encourage political reconciliation among the various Iraqi political constituents. But there are other issues that may emerge as a result of the latest developments in the region which are likely to affect how the US redistributes troops to consolidate its fronts in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. June 30 is not only a special day in terms of the security control transfer to the Iraqi army and police, who are theoretically ready to assume their responsibility even though the latest attacks may make their lives uneasy. It should also be a turning point for the Arab and Muslim worlds.

The release of Hamas detainees in Ramallah by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, is a positive and timely step, reported an editorial in the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi. The move came only days before the next round of the Palestinian dialogue in Cairo, a process that has quite often been hampered by the detention issue. And it is the first time that Abbas has acknowledged the existence of political detainees from Hamas in the Palestinian Authority' jails. Hamas in fact has always called on the Authority to free the 750 people as a condition of a national reconciliation agreement.

Abbas's decision should be followed by a similar move on the part of Hamas in order to turn a "black page" of Palestinian history. "The war of detentions waged in the last two years has been a shameful act, revealing the vengeful tendencies that eroded responsible militant and political action." The second round of Palestinian dialogue next month will be very decisive for the various Palestinian actors seeking to solve their internal problems and come up with a workable plan on how to face external challenges, primarily the expansion of settlements, the right of return of refugees and the status of Jerusalem. Palestinians also should take advantage of a US administration that appears less biased in favour of Israel.

After a long silence, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken but said nothing in favour of peace with the Palestinians, wrote al Hussein al Zaoui in the UAE daily Al Khaleej. "The Israeli premier reiterated the usual position. He categorically rejected creating a viable Palestinian state, stressed that Jerusalem should remain the eternal capital of Israel, denied the rights of refugees to return home and unashamedly defended the expansion of what he called legal settlements."

Arabs and Muslims were disappointed by President Obama, who had been expected to object to the Israeli premier's remarks. He unfortunately hailed them as a "major step forward". "No doubt then that the US desires to see settlements strengthen Israel's position in the region at the expense of its neighbours, while the Palestinian state project is geared towards alleviating the Israelis of the responsibility of supervising Arab populations whose problems are steadily increasing."

Given this situation, Arab peoples need to increasingly stick to their cause and intelligently manage the conflict until the Israelis exhaust their room for manoeuvre. Then and only then, Israel will accept the conditions imposed by the genuine land owners, concluded the writer. * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae