x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Turkey and Russia's new rapprochement

"The visit this week of the Russian prime minister to Ankara is seen by many observers as the most important strategic milestone in history of the two countries," wrote Samir Salha in an opinion piece in the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat.

"The visit this week of the Russian prime minister to Ankara is seen by many observers as the most important strategic milestone in history of the two countries," wrote Samir Salha in an opinion piece in the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat. Turkey succeeded in signing more than 20 co-operation and service agreements  with the rising Russia, which would enable it again to restore its transit role between the West and East. Most importantly,  it concluded  some exploitation and transport deals of gas and oil in the Caucasus and Central Asia to Europe and the Middle East through the Napoco pipeline.

Certainly, there are reasons why both countries have joined forces.  Moscow started to assess international developments practically, and it is more determined to restore its leadership role worldwide. Ankara, for its part,  is seeking a reliable alternative in case it fails in its bid to join the European Union.  The Turkish-Russian rapprochement may, however, annoy the Americans. "This leads us to inquire how the US would react to such a revival of the Eurasian dream that many nationalist Turks and Russians see as an alternative to the American-Turkish strategic partnership. Yet, it is less likely that Turkey would make a faux pas and  jeopardise its relations with the US."

"Certainly, the recent rise of violence in Iraq aims to cause the government's plans to fail and to discourage  other  political forces that seek to rebuild Iraq and restore its regional and international role," argued the lead article of the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. There is a consensus among observers that the series  of attacks that have rocked Iraqi recently showed that the militants intended to impede the normal course of elections due in January and to throw the country again into a vicious circle of deadly sectarian conflict. "Indeed, the recent bombings aim at igniting sectarian sedition at a time when many political actors are seriously engaged in talks to establish new coalitions and alliances based this time on a strong sense of nationhood rather than on sectarian  sentiments."

To prevent "sedition mania", all stakeholders need to double their efforts to eliminate all sources of threats to Iraq's security. "They should all, regardless of their political affiliation, adhere to dialogue in order to reach wider national reconciliation. To achieve that, they should responsibly debate the best solutions and condemn once and for all the use of violence  for gaining political advantage. Likewise, they need to search for the best ways to unite all Iraqis around a national political programme that highlights the interests of all."

"Yemen is in an unenviable situation. It is under threat on many levels: the Houthi rebellion in the north, secessionist movements in the south, and infiltration of al Qa'eda members into the country," said the lead article of the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi. The central government has used its air force to target areas of Saada where the Houthis are based. Through its heavy military action, the government seems to be very determined to annihilate  the Houthis, and thus prevent the outbreak of a civil war in the future. 

"The balance of power is tipped to the government forces thanks to their modern arms and equipment and they can easily impose control on many parts of Saada, yet they cannot maintain their full dominion of the terrain. This is because the rebels have adopted exhausting guerrilla war tactics that pushed the government to announce a conditional end to the military intervention." The rebels, however, rejected the offer. "A possible solution is to convince, on the one hand, the government that it cannot  suppress  the revolt only by means of force and, on the other hand, the Houthi rebels that they cannot defeat the government and impose their own conditions. Once both parties come to this conclusion,  it is possible to reach a settlement that should take into account Yemen's interests first." 

"How can Lebanon be described as the Switzerland of the Middle East, while Israel has not stopped its aggression against its sovereignty since 1948?" asked the lead article of the UAE daily Al Khaleej. " Lebanon has been attacked by sea, air and land, and more than that,  its waters are constantly being stolen."  "Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, talked about his wish that Lebanon become the Switzerland of the Middle East. This man is responsible for the Qana massacre, when Israeli artillery hit the area of a UN compound where Lebanese civilians had taken refuge. The Israeli president was speaking from a settlement located  in the north of the Occupied Palestinian Territories on the third anniversary of the 2006 war.

"Peres showed no animosity this time, but others in Israel are taking an extreme attitude by threatening to attack Lebanon. This is at a time when the Shaaba farms are still under Israeli occupation and Israeli warplanes violate Lebanon's  airspace everyday."  Describing Lebanon as  Switzerland is ironic and what president Peres said is more daydreaming than reality. It is utterly inconceivable to accept such a phrase from a politician whose country has occupied Palestine and displaced its people for more than six decades. 

* Digest compiled by Moustapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae