x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

US forces face 'endless war' in Afghanistan

The London-based Al Quds Al Arabic carried a leading editorial attacking the western media for the lack of coverage of the war in Afghanistan.

The London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabic carried a leading editorial attacking the western media for the lack of coverage of the war raging against al Qa'eda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan. The paper criticised "western media hypocrisy" which only recently increased reporting following the death of two British soldiers, one of whom was a commanding officer.

"This event and others demonstrate that military operations are going against Nato plans in Afghanistan as the death toll among its troops steadily rises." The situation on the ground has prompted the US president Barack Obama to send additional troops to the region. Apparently the US would like to achieve a success similar to that in Iraq by forming paramilitaries among non-Pashtun tribes to fight against al Qa'eda and the Taliban.

"Enlarging the size of the US force may achieve some success in the beginning, yet such gains will remain very limited because the Taliban fight on their land and have complex transborder tribal links with Pakistan. "Taking into account these factors, it is time American and British leaders remove their forces before they are further plunged into a costly, endless war," concluded the paper.

"I could not stop myself from reading the records of the 20 interrogation sessions of Saddam Hussein conducted by the FBI in February of 2004. They provided ample information about his years of rule, the Iraq-Iran War, the invasion of Kuwait and relations with Iraqis," wrote Tariq Alhomayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awasat. The reader will be shocked to learn Saddam's vision of rule. "The record shows him as a superficial ruler, arrogant and a man separated from reality.

"He said that his curiosity to learn about American culture prompted him to watch a huge number of US movies. Is it conceivable for a statesman to develop his own knowledge about a country, which is deemed an enemy, just through movies?" asked the writer. The transcripts will continue to disclose more information on how a narcissistic and superficial man ruled Iraq for 30 years, plunging the country and its people into a deplorable situation, the author concluded.

The Jordanian newspaper Al Rai carried an opinion piece by Sulayman Namir, who wrote: "recent summits involving Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the communications between the KSA and Syria laying the groundwork for a meeting between King Abdullah and Bashar Assad (Michel Suleiman is also expected to attend) reveal the great role of the KSA in mediation."

Two objectives are clear: pursue the reconciliation process on the Egyptian-Syrian track and provide the atmosphere for a national reconciliation government in Lebanon under the leadership of Saad Hariri. Cairo has become convinced of the value of restoring its contacts with Damascus in order to achieve progress in the Palestinian dialogue. Such a conviction should encourage the initiative by the Saudi monarch to accomplish a reconciliation.

To achieve the second goal, it is very important for the government in Lebanon to operate smoothly. Syria can be very helpful in this area as it will welcome a government that safeguards the political interests of its allies in the opposition.

In an opinion piece featured in the UAE newspaper Al Ittihad, Dr Abdullah Jumaa al Haj wrote: "the murder of western hostages in Yemen by their captors, who are believed to be tied to the al Houthi group and other tribes that support them, raises many questions. What can be done to combat such groups and stamp out the alliances with the tribes? Certainly, eliminating terrorist groups such as the Houthi would cut the sources of financial support for other tribes, but there is no effective strategy yet to defeat them. It is possible that military intervention against these tribes, either by Yemeni or international forces, could solve the issue. But these two solutions - especially the latter - would be unpopular. As an alternative, it is very sensible to adopt a non-military plan to end the co-operation between the Houthi rebels and other tribes. The latter would return loyalty for more resources. But the government feels that kind of solution might encourage tribes to ask for more privileges. As such, tribes and their sheikhs would acquire more financial and economic independence, leading to a further weakening of the central government.

* Digest complied by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae