Iran's backup plan

Iranian manoeuvering in Iraq and Yemen suggests that Tehran thinks the Syrian regime will fall, an Arabic-language commentator writes. Other topics: British riots, Qaddafi's embassy sales, and Egypt's constitution.

Iran's backup plan for when Assad falls

In his editorial for the London-based Asharq Al Awsat, Tareq Homayed wrote: "Just as recent information reveals that Iran is wagering on Iraq as an alternative to Syria in case the Bashar Al Assad regime topples, new information indicates that Iran has recently been supporting the Houthis in Yemen, which supports the idea that Tehran is convinced of the hopelessness of its Baathist ally in Damascus."

Reports from Yemen suggest that the Houthis, with Tehran's help, are gearing up for a post-Saleh era. They are undergoing intensive military training, preparing to keep Saudi Arabia busy in the next phase.

"Tehran received a hard blow with the intervention of the Peninsula Shield Forces in Bahrain, which spoiled Iran's plan to surround Saudi from the east. Iran feels threatened in Lebanon, especially if Bashar Al Assad falls. The sectarian belt Iran has tied around the region with its Iranian-Syrian-Lebanese and more recently Iraqi axis, could be torn."

The foggy situation in Yemen at present allows for Tehran to focus on its Houthi allies to support and strengthen their position in the upcoming political process and to fortify their military bases on the southern Saudi borders.

"Iran's moves in Iraq and Yemen reflect its conviction that the Assad's regime is soon to fall and reveal that Iran is preparing to distance Saudi from Yemen and Iraq. Caution is highly advised."


Desperate Qaddafi is selling his embassies

"Colonel Muammar Qaddafi is on the verge of despair as evidenced by the frantic attempts by his regime's diplomats to sell £100 million [Dh600 million] worth of homes, cars and electronic equipment registered in their embassy's name following the British government's decision to evict them," columnist Mazen Hammad said in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

In fact, the regime asked almost all of its embassies around the world to sell their properties in an effort to raise funds to replenish the colonel's funds.

"Col Qaddafi is selling his embassies because he is in a bad financial bind that may be even worse than that of the rebels."

Nato member states, despite being fully aware that Col Qaddafi has reached the point of no return, didn't make sufficient effort to take advantage of the Tripoli regime's predicament by hitting hard at its forces.

Nato's reluctance to exploit the situation and end Col Qaddafi's reign is clear indication that its real objectives are elsewhere and that toppling the regime and financially supporting the rebels don't come first on their list.

"Otherwise, what explains the western reticence to quickly resolve the battle?" asked the writer.

Exploiting Tripoli's difficulties is vital to hasten the rebel's victory. Nato's inaction in this matter only compounds casualties and damage across Libyan towns.

Egypt hovers between rights and tyranny

During the protests that brought down Egypt's former regime, there was consensus on the general structure of a new era.

But consensus soon crumbled as each party in the rebelling majority fought for electoral advantage, columnist Abdallah Iskandar noted in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

"It is clear now that the dispute over so-called 'supra-constitutional principles' stems from the efforts of the Islamic side to keep the issue pending until after the elections, as they anticipate winning enough power in parliament to calibrate these principles according to their views."

The principles in question are rights such as the civil nature of the state and the protection of public liberties, political pluralism, freedom of expression and creed, formation of parties, equality among citizens and the transfer of power.

Non-Islamic factions had demanded that the Military Council establish these rights as non-modifiable constitutional principles, fearing that the Islamic groups would modify them if they win a majority in parliament

The Islamic position is strictly political, rejecting the constitutional principles that protect the country from dictatorship on grounds that they conflict with Islam.

"The structure of the new Egyptian regime [either] enshrines essential rights in the constitution, or it allows for the seeds of despotism to sprout once again."

British riots are 'essentially' political

Britain is licking its wounds from the recent riots that shook many of London's poorer neighbourhoods, before spreading to other towns, the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi said in its editorial.

Economists estimated the losses during the five days of looting last week at about $1.3 billion (Dh 4.8bn). Many analysts were quick to make the argument that there was nothing political about those riots, that they were a typical manifestation of teenage vandalism. The truth is a bit more complicated, the newspaper said.

"In fact, the crisis is essentially political, the outcome of a series of wrong public policies favouring the rich over the poor. In its attempt to wriggle out of the economic crisis the country is going through, the government allocated more than $200bn to bail out the banking system at the expense of health care and welfare, which benefit the poor."

Young, poor and unemployed, many teenagers in marginal areas are angry.

They will easily resort to violence and stealing to express that frustration, just as their counterparts did in the suburbs of France a few years back, the newspaper added.

Everyone is blaming the police for mishandling the situation, but more blame must be addressed to the government.


* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem

Published: August 15, 2011 04:00 AM


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