x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Suspicious silence about Syria-Iraq crisis

Apart from a very short and ambiguous statement released last Wednesday, the US administration observed a total and suspicious silence towards the mounting crisis between Syria and Iraq, noted Satii Noureddine in the Lebanese daily Al Safir.

Apart from a very short and ambiguous statement released last Wednesday, the US administration observed a total and suspicious silence towards the mounting crisis between Syria and Iraq, noted Satii Noureddine in the Lebanese daily Al Safir.   The statement, released a few hours after the crisis broke out, talked about a bilateral conflict in which Washington was in no way involved. The statement called for dialogue between Damascus and Baghdad, while Washington was fully aware that the conflict was not diplomatic, as the explosions targeted three main ministries and a number of government buildings, putting at stake the whole "Iraqi regime" the US administration worked for the last six years to establish.  

The Americans only broke their silence when the Iraqi authorities announced that two of the perpetrators were former detainees at Camp Bocca released a few months ago by US forces. Washington rejected the accusation that it was too lenient with the Baathist and Islamic networks, with whom recurrent reports said it was negotiating.   According to the columnist, the Iraqi government would not have triggered this crisis with Syria without the prior consent of the US administration, which contradicts the American silence and the subsequent events.

With the release of Abdelbaset al Megrahi from his Scottish prison, a page of the long and painful Lockerbie tragedy might be over, but it's only the last page of the Libyan chapter that has been turned, wrote Khayrallah Khayrallah in an opinion article published by the Kuwaiti daily Al Rai.     The Lockerbie affair as a whole is not yet over. The truth will inevitably be known, because there is another truth and the world will one day discover who was behind the targeting of the Pan Am flight in 1988, during the Christmas holidays.

The investigation at that time was unfortunately political and it just happened that Libya had to be punished. The act gave the US administration an unmatched opportunity to impose a total ban on the regime of Colonel Muammar Gadafi and on the entire country. However, despite the formal US objection to the release of al Megrahi and the way he was received by Tripoli, Libya seems to be definitely in reconciliation with the international community, including the US, in time for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Kaddafi regime.   Now the international community has to continue its efforts to find out who were the real parties behind the Lockerbie affair. Libya might be involved, in some manner, or be a secondary accomplice, but logic has it that it can't be the sole party behind this crime.

The ongoing fighting between the government forces and the al Houthi group in Yemen is threatening to escalate into a civil war with opposing tribes lining up behind one or the other party, wrote Saleh al Qallab in the Jordanian daily Al Rai.  

It is much better for Yemen that the fighting - which does not seem to be coming to an end any time in the near future - does not go beyond the confrontation between the army and the al Houthi armed groups, as any involvement of the tribes, with all the conflicts this might entail in an intrinsically tribal society, will definitely lead to the country's rapid collapse into chaos. Some of the tribes are as well armed as the army itself and thrusting them into a conflict now will open numerous breaches in the government front. It will also encourage external parties to interfere in Yemen's internal affairs and cause more anarchy.

If the situation in Yemen deteriorates, the whole region will pay the price and al Qa'eda will become more vicious and more active. A new and far more dangerous "Tora Bora" will rear its head in the Gulf region and Horn of Africa.     The events brewing in Yemen are extremely grave, particularly in the light of growing separatist trends in the south, where the hitherto fiercest advocates of the union are today working underground for a return to the pre-1995 era.

As autumn is approaching, with its favourable cool weather, fears are growing of a large-scale spread of the swine flu pandemic in the northern hemisphere, wrote Mazen Hammad in an opinion piece published by the Qatari daily Al Watan. According to World Health Organisation estimates, one third of the world population may be infected with the H1N1 virus within two years, but it will depend on whether the virus, which has been moving slowly during summer, will be reinvigorated with the return of students to schools and universities.  

There are, however, relatively reassuring signs, as winter has almost come to an end in the southern hemisphere with the pandemic not reaching the proportions feared by doctors. In addition, research work has shown that the virus has not mutated into a more lethal form. For the time being, it is as dangerous for human life as is a normal flu virus and many recover from the infection without the need for medical treatment. Those who are treated do not suffer immensely.  

But if a normal flu can kill old people, data shows that the H1N1 virus is more common among the five to 24 age group and the possibility of infection above 65 is 20 times lower. * Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji mnaji@thenational.ae