Arab Press

A weekly se­lec­tion of opin­ions and analy­ses from the Arab me­dia around the world

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WHAT IS THE SIT­U­A­TION FOR IDLIB?

Al-It­ti­had, UAE, De­cem­ber 6

Can the war in Idlib end the in­tran­si­gence of the ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions in Syria?

The 11th round of As­tana meet­ings failed, and the po­lit­i­cal par­ties tak­ing part in the talks – Iran, Rus­sia and Turkey – were un­able to ex­tend the 10week truce that is set to ex­pire in the city soon. The Syr­ian regime has been con­tin­u­ously bomb­ing the coun­try­side ar­eas of Idlib and Hama. There were nu­mer­ous mas­sacres, and dozens of peo­ple have been killed at the hands of the regime. The most fre­quent vic­tims are women and chil­dren. The num­ber of bomb­ings and as­sas­si­na­tions in­creased, and about four mil­lion peo­ple are still liv­ing in emi­nent danger. Open­ing a sec­ondary front in Idlib could lead to a hor­ren­dous calamity.

Although the in­ter­na­tional play­ers in­volved in the As­tana talks are act­ing out of a true de­sire to end the war, they have failed to un­der­stand the sim­ple fact that a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion will not suf­fice in Syria. They called for the es­tab­lish­ment a con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee that would help write a new Syr­ian con­sti­tu­tion. But the truth of the mat­ter is that the Syr­ian north has be­come a breed­ing ground for ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions that en­joy wide­spread support. The only way to move for­ward with the Syr­ian cease­fire plan is to dis­arm these move­ments and en­sure that a new Is­lamic State doesn’t emerge in the Mid­dle East.

The new US en­voy to Syria, James Jef­frey, made ref­er­ence

Ma­soud Barzani’s visit to Bagh­dad is long over­due, and it’s hard to be­lieve it would have ever taken place had new Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Adil Ab­dul-Mahdi not taken of­fice

to this issue in a re­cent in­ter­view, when he said, “We need a Syr­ian gov­ern­ment that does not push half of its pop­u­la­tion out­side the coun­try in or­der to solve the fight­ing. Do­ing so will sim­ply cre­ate new ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

There­fore, the only vi­able so­lu­tion to the Syr­ian cri­sis would be one that pre­vents more mas­sacres and ini­ti­ates an on-the-ground in­ter­ven­tion. The fail­ure of the As­tana meet­ing is an omen for more blood­shed, un­less world pow­ers put aside their dis­agree­ments and re­ex­am­ine their pri­or­i­ties. Achiev­ing a clear po­lit­i­cal vi­sion for Syria will make Syr­ian citizens more con­fi­dent in their fu­ture.

Most im­por­tantly, it will send a clear mes­sage to both crim­i­nals and ex­trem­ists that they have no fu­ture in the coun­try. – Riyadh Naasan Agha

A NEW ERA IN RE­LA­TIONS BE­TWEEN ERBIL AND BAGH­DAD?

Al Mada, Iraq, De­cem­ber 7

Ma­soud Barzani, the leader of the Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party, ar­rived in Bagh­dad last week for a first meet­ing of a Kur­dish leader with an Iraqi prime min­is­ter since the 2017 Kur­dish in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum.

This visit has been long over­due, and it’s hard to be­lieve that it would have ever taken place had new Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Adil Ab­dul-Mahdi not taken of­fice. Mahdi has long-stand­ing ties with the Kur­dish lead­er­ship in Iraq, which date back to the days of Sad­dam Hus­sein. Mahdi main­tained close ties with his Kur­dish coun­ter­parts through­out the years and even sought refuge from Sad­dam’s in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan. Since tak­ing of­fice, he has been a strong pro­po­nent of bridg­ing the enor­mous di­vide be­tween Bagh­dad and Erbil; a gap that emerged af­ter the Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion voted to se­cede from Iraq and de­clare in­de­pen­dence last year.

The visit has great tim­ing for both lead­ers. Iraq has a des­per­ate need to sal­vage its econ­omy and boost its ex­ports. This can be achieved by ex­tract­ing and ex­port­ing oil from Kirkuk to Turkey, via Kur­dis­tan. A large fo­cus of Barzani’s visit is the sign­ing of a deal be­tween the two par­ties that would en­able the gov­ern­ment to do ex­actly that. On Barzani’s end, re­ceiv­ing such a warm wel­come in Bagh­dad, saved only for for­eign dig­ni­taries, pro­vides Kur­dis­tan with the le­git­i­macy and recog­ni­tion is needs. On Mahdi’s end, re­ceiv­ing the support of the Kur­dish party in par­lia­ment, which holds 25 seats, is a strong boost of power that se­cures his abil­ity to run a gov­ern­ment.

Af­ter the reign of two Iraqi prime min­is­ters who at­tempted to marginal­ize and weaken the Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion, Mahdi is de­ter­mined to turn the page on Iraqi-Kur­dish re­la­tions. Barzani shares the same mis­sion. This de­vel­op­ment may very well be one of the most im­por­tant mile­stones in Iraqi pol­i­tics of our time, and could pave the way for a more sta­ble and peace­ful coun­try in years to come. – Ud­nan Hus­sein

TRUMP AND BIN SAL­MAN MIGHT FIND THEM­SELVES ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HIS­TORY

Al Jazeera, Qatar, De­cem­ber 3

De­spite the fact that more than two months have passed since the as­sas­si­na­tion of Ja­mal Khashoggi at the Saudi con­sulate in Turkey, the US me­dia con­tinue to re­port on the mat­ter on a nearly daily ba­sis.

Part of this re­port­ing comes in re­sponse to re­cent leaks made by CIA of­fi­cials on the in­volve­ment of the Saudi Crown Prince, Muham­mad Bin Sal­man, in the de­ci­sion to kill the Saudi-Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can find­ings, Bin Sal­man had been di­rectly in­volved in the op­er­a­tion and per­son­ally gave the or­der to carry out the killing. This should be a shock­ing dis­cov­ery for any de­cent hu­man be­ing. Even the most mil­i­tant sup­port­ers of Saudi Ara­bia in Amer­ica have been strug­gling to deal with these rev­e­la­tions and defend Bin Sal­man.

The only per­son de­ter­mined to ig­nore this mount­ing ev­i­dence is US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who launched a di­rect at­tack on his own in­tel­li­gence agency and de­nied the find­ings pre­sented to him by se­nior CIA of­fi­cials. Thank­fully, the vast ma­jor­ity of the Amer­i­can pub­lic doesn’t be­lieve Trump’s lies. The Amer­i­can peo­ple were will­ing to turn a blind eye to Saudi Ara­bia’s at­tacks in Ye­men. They were will­ing to con­done the con­tin­u­ous en­croach­ment of hu­man rights in the king­dom. But the killing of Khashoggi was a step too far.

I be­lieve that it is only a mat­ter of time un­til Congress launches a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion on Trump’s politi­ciza­tion of in­tel­li­gence and re­fusal to ac­cept the CIA’s find­ings. There is ab­so­lutely no doubt in my mind that Crown Prince Muham­mad Bin Sal­man is closely mon­i­tor­ing these de­vel­op­ments in an ef­fort to pro­tect his seat. If this mat­ter con­tin­ues to un­fold with such great pub­lic at­ten­tion, Bin Sal­man will be forced to make ma­jor changes to his gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing a po­ten­tial re­arrange­ment in the Royal House.

Oth­er­wise, he will find his own neck on the line. – Has­san Brari

THE LEGACY OF GE­ORGE H.W. BUSH

Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Ara­bia, De­cem­ber 5

The pass­ing away of lead­ers pro­vides us with an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity to stop and re­flect on their lives and re­mem­ber im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal events that helped shape our world to­day. Ge­orge H.W. Bush, who stayed in of­fice for only one term, had a mo­men­tous im­pact on the Mid­dle East.

He en­tered the White House at an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult time, in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union and the im­ped­ing war be­tween Iraq and Kuwait. Bush was a man of great courage, just like King Fahd of Saudi Ara­bia. The two men were de­ter­mined to put an end to Sad­dam Hus­sein’s ex­pan­sion­ary am­bi­tions in the re­gion and, de­spite warn­ings both at home and abroad, de­cided to launch a mil­i­tary of­fen­sive against Iraq.

If these two men hadn’t taken these ac­tions, it is highly likely that Kuwait would have dis­ap­peared from the map. It would have be­come an Iraqi pro­tec­torate used to desta­bi­lize the Arab Gulf and un­der­mine US in­ter­ests in the re­gion. The Amer­i­can pub­lic did not rec­og­nize Bush’s great states­man­ship in his de­ci­sion to launch this war. He never re­ceived the credit he de­serves, as the Amer­i­can pub­lic was still scarred from the war in Viet­nam. Yet Bush did not wa­ver; he in­sisted on do­ing what was right for his own na­tion and its clos­est al­lies. It is easy to for­get this through the lens of time.

We must not let rad­i­cal left­ist pro­pa­ganda erase these great achieve­ments and the in­cred­i­ble role played by the US around the world in gen­eral, and in the Mid­dle East more specif­i­cally, through­out the years. With­out great lead­ers like Ge­orge H.W. Bush, the Mid­dle East would have been in an even greater state of war to­day. The his­tory of Bush is there­fore in­ter­twined and em­bed­ded in our own col­lec­tive his­tory. On the week of his pass­ing, it is im­por­tant we honor Bush – not to ro­man­ti­cize who he was as a leader, but to thank him his role and his legacy in pro­tect­ing Saudi Ara­bia and the mod­er­ate na­tions of the Mid­dle East. – Abd al-Rah­man al-Rashed

(Photos: Reuters)

KUR­DIS­TAN DEMO­CRATIC Party leader Ma­soud Barzani shows his ink-stained fin­ger af­ter cast­ing his vote dur­ing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in the semi-au­ton­o­mous re­gion on the out­skirts of Erbil, Iraq, on Septem­ber 30.

A PRO­TESTER rails against the killing of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, out­side the Saudi Ara­bian Em­bassy in Lon­don on Oc­to­ber 26.

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