x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Yemen is a tale of two crises

"In 2005, skirmishes began between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels. These have turned to a real war whose causes remain unknown," wrote Adham Jaber in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

"In 2005, skirmishes began between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels. These have turned to a real war whose causes remain unknown," wrote Adham Jaber in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. "Up to now, it is hard to obtain reliable information from official sources to form a comprehensive picture of the situation  there." So if the ongoing war between the government and the Houthis in the north has captured more attention inside and outside of Yemen, the crisis in the south continues to take a heavy toll on the political scene in this country. Southerners are determined to secede from the central government after some years of shaky unity.  

"The  crises Yemen faces are a threat to its future. The war against the Houthis is not likely to end the conflict in the north. Nor would the incentives offered to southerners convince them to renounce their political demands. Thus, the situation will remain volatile. And although it is possible that the army may achieve some success in Saada, it will not be able to eradicate the Houthi group altogether. Secessionists are less likely to stop and can, at any time, stage another resurgence of violence. In view of these challenges, the government should think of a smarter solution other than exhibiting its military muscles."

In a comment piece in the London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat, Tariq Alhomayed wrote, "When Al Sharq al Awsat reported news about members of Hamas and Israeli citizens taking part in seminars held in Switzerland, the Islamist group first denied the news then, the following day, admitted it. It added, though, that those who were in Switzerland only represented the views of Hamas but were not linked to it."

A Hamas source told the newspaper this week that the participants in the Switzerland seminars stressed that the Islamist group was seeking peace and that Europeans could rely on it in this regard. There was a heated debate between the delegation representing the Palestinian Authority and members tied to Hamas where both claimed to be the mouthpiece of all Palestinians. "It seems that Hamas is keen to seize every possible opportunity to market itself to the West as the legitimate representative of all Palestinians. As one of its advisers said, after they massacred Ansar Jund Allah's radical group in Rafah, his movement was against terrorism and used force to combat it. He added that the West should acknowledge this step by adopting a more open policy towards it."  Hamas does not represent all Palestinians, rather it divides them. "We should not take Hamas's claims seriously unless it engages actively in the national dialogue to surmount Palestinian differences."

In an opinion piece in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat, Mostapha Zine considered political differences as being responsible for the recent incidents of violence that took place in Iraq. He defined two main areas of difference. First, there are continuing disputes over the quota system adopted between the ruling parties as well as internal conflicts at the level of each party.

Second, the two major political actors: Nouri al Maliki, the prime minister and leader of the Islamic Dawa party and Abdul Aziz al Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council, have entered into loggerheads. Mr al Maliki insisted that the head of the government should belong to the victorious party, while Mr al Hakim, supported by the Kurds, was of the opinion that the prime minister should be decided through polls. Moreover, Mr al Hakim supported a federal system in the south and in the middle. Mr al Maliki on the other hand was against this proposal and he opposed granting Kurds rights to take sovereign decisions.

Mr al Maliki is therefore seen as an opponent of democracy. He is also accused of calling back former Baathists and appointing them into senior positions either in the army or the government."  As in Lebanon, Iraq has been trapped in complicated and complex sectarian conflicts directed from outside to serve the interests of external powers.

A news report published in a Swedish newspaper about Israeli soldiers involved in stealing Palestinians' organs to sell on the black market was enough to spark denunciations, reported the lead article of the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej. The article, however, sparked outrage among Israeli officials who referred as usual to anti-Semitism as the motivation for publishing the report. "Israel felt ashamed  when just one of its atrocities was widely made public. But what would be the case if all Arabs worked together to expose to the world in the international media the many crimes it has perpetrated against Palestinians and other Arabs since its occupation of Palestine?

"Definitely, there is much to write about, starting with land occupation, displacing populations, detention centres, the use of phosphorus arms, footage of the last assault on the Gaza Strip, in addition to the massacres of martyrs. It should be known to all that what Israel has been undertaking since 1948 is a crime against humanity that requires all to strongly denounce it." * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi