x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

US maximises market for arms sales

In an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai Alaam, Dr Sami Naser Khlaifa criticised statements by the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton before the Asean 2009 conference last week, when she said that her administration was ready to provide GCC countries with military defence systems to counter Iran which may possess nuclear weapons in the future.

In an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai Alaam, Dr Sami Naser Khlaifa criticised statements by the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton before the Asean 2009 conference last week, when she said that her administration was ready to provide GCC countries with military defence systems to counter Iran which may possess nuclear weapons in the future. These declarations are suspicious and tend to incite countries of the region to pursue a meaningless arms race. It is a strategy - visible to all - meant to help the US arms industry find new outlets for their products at a time when it is suffering a downturn. "Apparently, the US felt the urge to act as demand for arms has lately declined." 

By such an attitude, the US secretary of state also fed the media campaign aimed at shifting public attention away from the settlement expansion schemes undertaken by Israelis as well as further reinforce the concept of the eternal enemy embodied by Iran, a country depicted as a threat to peace and stability in the region.  Exaggerating the power of an enemy is an outdated strategy, and it would be wiser if Ms Clinton would refrain from pronouncing empty declarations. The US should focus its attention rather on other pressing issues of interest to the region.

Commenting on the post-election crisis in Iran, Bassam al Dhaw stated in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan that it was too early to draw a final picture of the Iranian political landscape. Although street protests have stopped, the opposition still harbours suspicions about the victory of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and that makes the political situation less than stable. 

Future political life in Iran is expected to see many tug-of- war situations.  Recently the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami called for a popular referendum about the legitimacy of the re-elected president, and he was backed by one of the scholars' associations. "This means that the political differences went beyond the elections or results to question the legality of the second term of Mr Ahmadinejad, and by extension to touch upon the very nature of political life in Iran 30 years after the Islamic revolution." Nonetheless, the Iranian regime is not on its way to a gradual demise as many in Europe and the US predict. "We could argue, however, that the political movement in Iran is a reflection of a strong social trend which will persist long afterwards, heralding tough times for the re-elected president who will have to face both internal as well as external challenges."

The UAE newspaper Al Bayan wrote in its editorial: "Every one of us who has closely observed the political dynamic in Yemen feels worried about whether the country will be able to shore up its democratic government."

In view of recent incidents, all political elements must engage in a serious dialogue to put an end to the crisis, demonstrate the highest degree of self-restraint  and stop tampering with the interests of the country. It is the same for the central government, which needs to draw up a viable and comprehensive plan to resolve differences and save the country from disintegration. "The government remains the prime force responsible for restoring confidence in unity."

Holding direct talks among all political actors is a key to uniting the positions of different parties to address further challenges ahead, primarily the  movement led by the al Houthi groups in Sa'ada province.  To achieve national dialogue, all stakeholders need to stick to principles of democracy, brotherhood and co-operative interaction. Similarly they have to strongly believe that Yemen's unity is irreversible and the only path that can guarantee safety and stability.

In a piece for the Lebanese Assafir, Satea Noureddine wrote about how some incidents in Iraq may affect Lebanese attitudes and views about politics. Iraq is ruled by a Shiite majority who have sought to maintain a coalition with Sunni members, yet they have been accused of siding with the occupying forces. As a result, the prime minister Nouri al Maliki has called for a new presidential system, reinforcing a trend of governance based on "trial and error".

Another political innovation is the emergence of a Kurdish state. "It is strong and stable, and enjoys more autonomy but not full independence. Saturday's elections further widen the gap between the newly born entity and the central government in Baghdad." Christians, however, are being forced into exile after they had become targets of successive attacks. These events all involve a changing sectarian landscape that may elicit the sympathy of people in Lebanon. But the Lebanese should be rational and not become emotionally involved by what is happening in Iraq.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae