x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Saudi FM calls for comprehensive peace

Hazem Mubidheen cited in an opinion piece in the Jordan-based newspaper Al Rai the criticism put forth by the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, of the US administration's strategy based on "gradual gains" to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Hazem Mubidheen cited in an opinion piece in the Jordan-based newspaper Al Rai the criticism put forth by the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, of the US administration's strategy based on "gradual gains" to achieve  peace  in the Middle East. "The Saudi foreign minister affirmed that peace in the Middle East requires a comprehensive strategy, and that the current approach to peace adopted by the Americans is less likely to succeed. What is needed is to address the core issues because betting on temporary peace and building trust are no guarantee for achieving long-lasting stability." 

Prince Al Faisal called for defining the final outcomes of the peace plan and then engaging in talks which would determine the final status issues. By doing so, he expressed his country's dissatisfaction with the  US plan of action as it lacks rigour in responding to Israeli intransigence. Prince Al Faisal also highlighted such issues as the status of Jerusalem, refugees, water and Palestinian borders. He blamed the Israelis for being uncommitted to achieving peace with the Palestinians. But what made the Saudi official's statements unique was that he publicly underscored areas of difference between the Arabs'  attitude to peace and that of the  Americans, whom he urged the them to follow words with deeds.

Fouad Abu Zayd wrote a profile of the Lebanese president Michel Suleiman in the Lebanese newspaper Al Diyar. The writer first shed light on some of the president's personal qualities such as his education and military training. "He is a statesman who lucidly understands issues of great complexity that face modern Lebanon. He intelligently addresses them with maximum patience and quietude."

The writer went on to assess his achievements in the first year of his term by highlighting  three milestones. First, Mr Suleiman has managed to restore the position of Lebanon as a fully sovereign country. Second, Mr Suleiman has been able to revive the culture as well as the role of Lebanese civilisation - a role that has dwindled as a result of wars and internal conflicts. Third, Mr Suleiman has succeeded in rendering the presidential institution a viable establishment accessible to all Lebanese across the political spectrum. "Ba'abda Palace has become a venue for all political forces and sects to discuss urgent issues and quench conflicts. "This man's dream is to have a permanent home for the dialogue between cultures and religions. He has emerged as the most reliable of all political actors to achieve a true national dialogue."

Abd al Bari Atwan wrote in the Moroccan daily Al Massa that military action alone cannot defeat the Taliban. Meanwhile, the death toll has risen among British troops, reaching 20 in the last month and a total of 200 since military operations begun eight years ago.

"Some may argue, however, that the high recent death toll among British troops resulted from the intensive attacks currently led by Nato forces in Helmand, the heartland of the Taliban, and that these human casualties meant the allied troops were achieving progress on the battlefield." Yet, these victories can only be of limited impact. Nor can they be sustained by sending more troops there. Britain made a mistake by getting involved in the war in Afghanistan. "British officials need to recall past events of its history. British troops, on two occasions, succumbed to bitter defeat in this country, and we would not exaggerate if we say they are on their way to meet the same fate."

Many US and British officials have begun to realise that military force alone is not enough. Reaching this conclusion is one step on the right track, but that needs to be followed by concrete political decisions. "Probably it would be salutary now is to sit down with the Taliban movement and open a serious dialogue, if both the US and Britain would like to spare their troops lives in Afghanistan."

The London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat featured a lead article by Abdul Arrahman al Rashed who remarked that there were three developments in relation to the Palestinian cause. First, the Fatah convention is due to take place despite attempts by Hamas to delay it. Second, active consultations underway are likely to pave the way for holding talks between the Palestinians represented by the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis. Last and most important, Israel is now in a very critical position in that it cannot reject engaging in negotiations for fear of sanctions.

"The European Union may, at any time, recognise the state of Palestine if Benjamin Nethanyahu's government continues behaving in a dilly-dallying manner. More than that, Europe in consultation with the US may use the platform of the United Nations to announce a proposal for establishing an independent Palestinian state. "On that account, Israelis have become more prudent not to annoy the Palestinian Authority, because that would only accelerate the process of establishing the state. In other words, Israel prefers its birth to come naturally as result of direct negotiations, rather than a caesarean section in New York."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae