x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

This critic of Abbas had little credibility

In a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat, Abdul Rahman al Rashed asked why the disclosure of many secrets and documents by Fahmi Shabana, a former intelligence officer in the Palestinian Authority on an Israeli channel had stirred so little reaction.

In a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat, Abdul Rahman al Rashed asked why the disclosure of many secrets and documents by Fahmi Shabana, a former intelligence officer in the Palestinian Authority on an Israeli channel had stirred so little reaction. Although the interview captured the attention of a wide audience, given its timing and the nature of discussion, it did not trigger a political debate, nor was it of major concern to the Palestinians. Few explanations can be given to understand the lack of response. Perhaps it was because the Israeli TV station was not able to produce a good interview, the guest has no credibility, or the Palestinian Authority is beyond reproach.

For many, the talk show was interesting in that it helps explore where the Palestinians, after six years, stand with regard to the government headed by Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians declined to criticise the present situation, or to delve into the past of their former leader Yasser Arafat, who is seen by all political forces as their hero. Palestinians were less convinced of Mr Shabana's accusations given his profile and history. To many of them, the present Palestinian Authority has made great efforts to fight corruption and organise the security systems, including the intelligence services, to which Mr Shabana had once belonged.

Youssef al Kuwaylit, in an opinion piece for the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh, criticised the way that Arab countries were dealing with terrorism and called for joint efforts. Scattered efforts have encouraged organised crime and terrorist groups to emerge either in the east or the west of the Arab world. These groups have taken advantage of the lack of a unified strategy to flourish and reinforce their position.

Saudi Arabia has been very vigilant and active in fighting terrorism in all its forms, thanks to its advanced security systems based on pre-emptive intervention. Yet, despite the fact that Arab interior ministers have concluded many agreements, there is still a need to combine the expertise and efforts of each Arab country into one working system as did the Nato, Asian countries and South America. In fact Arabs are the most concerned with the terror phenomenon, "because roots of terrorists grew in our region, bred in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and founded branches worldwide". Saudi Arabia proposed establishing an international observatory based in Riyadh to fight terrorists in accordance with an international plan of co-operation. But it is also hoped that Arab countries will come together and devise joint strategies, because these would help address organised crime and also improve the image and position of Arabs.

A strategic report by a think tank, in Tel Aviv warned that Israel is facing an international campaign against it, which threatens its legitimacy, wrote Mazen Hammad in a comment piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

The report called this a strategic threat. It took note of the protests against Israel in universities and in international sporting events, calls for the boycott of Israeli products, and the demands for arrest warrants against senior officials visiting abroad, particularly in London. The report considered these events as a grassroots campaign undertaken by individuals and non-government organisations. It has no specific hierarchy of leadership, except a common doctrine that Israel is a destructive state and has no right to exist.

Haaretz newspaper, quoting the report, wrote that this campaign has as its centres in London, Brussels, Madrid, San Francisco, Toronto, and the University of California in Berkeley. The newspaper said that activists, many Europeans and Americans, co-operate with international organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to deny Israel's legitimacy, and support the Palestinians' activities in Europe. Activists believe that Israeli racism can be defeated the same way it was in South Africa, and pave the way for establishing one state for both Palestinians and Israelis.

"The ceasefire concluded between the Yemeni government and the Houthis three days ago lasted only ten hours before the government accused the rebels of breaking the true by attempting to assassinate the military operations commander in Saada," reported the lead article of the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi. The Houthis had agreed to all the terms in the agreement. These are a complete ceasefire, release of prisoners, withdrawal from any areas encroached upon, removal of mines and road barricades, and compliance with the constitution and the law. The agreement also called the rebels to refrain from attacking Saudi Arabia.

Chances of success are slim, because the agreement did not come as a result of consensus. It was rather forced on the rebels by the government after suffering huge losses. Breaking this agreement came after claims by the Houthis that the government did not meet some of their demands or it could be the result of external forces that favour the continued instability of this country. For the Houthis, the ceasefire was an attempt to buy time; for the government it was to gain breathing space to fish secessionists in the South as well as addressing threats from al Qa'eda.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha el Mouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae