Iran grooms Iraq to replace Syria

If the regime in Damascus goes under, Iran will need a new ally, and is preparing Iraq for the role, an Arabic-language editorialist writes in one of today's excerpts. Other topics: Morocco's election date, Iraq's election timing, and Qaddafi's cheerless prospects.

Why Iraq may become Iran's new best friend

There is a debate at the highest levels about how far Iran may go to spare its ally, Syria, from a free fall, Tareq Alhomayed, of the , wrote in a leader article.

"I asked an analystwell-versed in Syrian issues about the Iranian role and he said that there are indications that Tehran is preparing Iraq to replace Syria as its closest ally in the region, in case the regime in Damascus falls."

This is seen in an increase in violent operations undertaken by militias backed by Iran in Iraq, especially in Sunni areas, with the approach of the US withdrawal.

Of course, this implies that Tehran' s foreign policy cares less about resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories, and more about extending its influence in the Arabian Gulf, a goal set by Iran since early days of Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution.

So by shifting attention to Iraq, Iran is keen to ensure dominance in the region, and this policy may turn out to be less costly. Unlike Syria,Iraq is rich in resources and may not need financial support from Iran. Iraq, thus, will serve as a remote outpost for both Tehran and Hizbollah.

"This does not mean Americans should stay longer in Iraq," the writer said. But "Washington must … make sure followers of Iran do not control the local politics and government."

No date set yet for electionsin Morocco

"The election date was not tackled by the cabinet in its meeting, because this needsa political consensus," Morocco's minister of communication, Khalid Naciri was quoted as saying by the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

Monday's cabinet meeting was the first of its kind after Moroccans voted for the new constitution last Friday.

Elections are to be held soon to choose members of the parliament, which will enjoy, under the new constitutional amendments, broader powers in terms of legislations and more sway over the executive branch.

"More time is needed so that all political parties can express their points of view concerning this issue…we hope [the date] will be a result of a consensus among parties and other stakeholders," Naciri noted.

Early reactions on the election date were varied. Some reports mentioned that elections will be held on October 7, one week before the new legislative year begins, in a accordance to the constitution.

But official sources ruled out that date because of logistical difficulties. Yet Naciri, denied that a constitutional vacuum would occur, as the parliament will continue exercising its powers.

The current parliament's mandate ends in October, 2012. The government suggested next March or April as a suitable date for the next elections.

Early elections could get Iraq out of crisis

Observers and politicians agree that Iraq's deep political crisis is reflected in the security situation and the government's performance, both of which directly affect the lives of the majority of Iraqis, remarked Raed Fahmi in a commentary for the Iraqi newspaper Assabah.

"The poor services, the fragile security situation, the inefficiency of the executive branch and corruption are ills that are not caused mainly by individual officials, but they are by-products of the quota structure, which failed to develop a synergy among various stakeholders."

Lack of harmony among the government's constituent groups prevented them from setting up effective plans to manage the state's affairs. The current system produces only corruption.

All of these shortcomings were evident in former governments, but this time they are more obvious. The unfair amendments to the election law of 2010 have made it impossible to reach consensus among various blocs, and consensus is vital to form an effective government and make timely strategic decisions, for example on the issue of extending the US military presence.

The crisis is exacerbated with the recent surge in the number of terrorist attacks. "For these reasons and others, I suggest early elections as the best constitutional solution to spare the country the risk of sliding into chaos."

Qaddafi'a prisoner of endless nightmares'

There are indications that a solution to the Libyan crisis can be reached without jeopardising the country's unity, observed the columnist Mazen Hammad in a commentary for the Qatari daily Al Watan.

Colonel Muammar Qaddafi is aware that his era is over, as Tripoli could soon fall into the hands of the rebels. He also knows that his fate lies in the hands of the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, and depends largely on the decisions the council will take in the forthcoming days.

Indeed,the council has emerged powerful as more and more countries recognise it as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

International diplomatic efforts have become serious, with the possibility that power will shift to the councildespite the refusal byCol Qaddafi to acknowledge in public that his end is likely.

It is worthwhile mentioning that the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court against Col Qaddafi, his son Saif al Islam and the intelligence service chief, should force him to think of concluding a deal with the rebels to ensure him a less costly exit.

Things have changed.From now on Col Qaddafi will live as a prisoner of endless nightmares.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi