Story of Israel's hand in Sudan division

A 2008 lecture at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies asserting that since the independence of Sudan in the mid-1950s, there were some Israeli estimates that this African state must not be allowed to become an added force in the Arab world, according to a column in the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.

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In 2008, Avi Dichter, the former Israeli minister of internal security, gave a lecture at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies where he said that since the independence of Sudan in the mid-1950s, there were some Israeli estimates that this African state must not be allowed to become an added force in the Arab world, according to an article by columnist Hafmy Huweidi in the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.

That Sudan turned out to be "a strategic backyard" for Egypt during its 1967 war against Israel only further fuelled concerns in Israel. In fact, Sudan and Libya served as training bases and arm depots for the Egyptian military.

"So Israel had to penetrate the Sudanese arena to exacerbate existing crises and foment new ones."

In his book Israel and the Movement for the Liberation of South Sudan, published in 2003 by the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, the retired Mossad Brig Gen Moshe Fergie wrote that Israel's support to South Sudan rebels has gone through five phases: 1950s, through humanitarian aid; early 1960s, by training members of the "Popular Army" in Ethiopian outposts; mid-1960s-1970s, by routing weapons to the South; late 1970s-1980s, by backing southern leader John Garang; late 1990s, by providing the South with heavy weaponry via Kenya and Ethiopia.

On Saudi warning against terror suspects

Saudi Arabia's announcement on Sunday of a list of 47 Saudi terror suspects living outside the country is a sign that the kingdom's security apparatus has reached "a very advanced stage of professionalism and confidence", commented Tariq al Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The announcement also shows that Saudi security officials have embraced a key conviction: one of the most efficient ways in the fight against al Qa'eda is transparency. The usual stunt of just declaring that some terrorist plan was foiled or that a terror group was arrested, without giving details, names or pictures, does not attract international attention. "It is simply looked at as a gimmick."

Of course, sometimes information is withheld or embargoed for investigation purposes, but no embargo should last for very long, especially when dealing with al Qa'eda, a network that excels at utilising the media for propaganda.

So, when Saudi security officials took the decision to publicly warn the international community against the "dangerous sons" of Saudi Arabia, they provided evidence of the kingdom's high sense of responsibility and commitment.

That said, the fight against al Qa'eda in Saudi Arabia is not strictly a security matter, it is also an ideological one. "Terrorist thought must be countered at all intellectual levels."

Pan-Arab summit must be held in Baghdad

"It is not enough to acknowledge the Arab nature of Iraq. The acknowledgement must be translated on the ground; it must become a practice, not just a figment of the imagination," observed Mazen Hammad, a columnist with the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

The first step that Arabs must take to substantiate "the Arabness of Iraq" is to insist, unanimously, that the upcoming ordinary summit of the Arab League, due in March, be held in the heart of Baghdad.

This should happen not just because it is Iraq's turn to host the summit, but also because it is essential now "to pull Iraq back into the pan-Arab nationalist sphere" and away from attempts to graft a Kurdish or Shiite identity onto it.

As the secretary general of the pan-Arab body rightly said, the warnings expressed by groups like al Qa'eda and Ansar al Islam must be an incentive that encourages Arab leaders to come together in Baghdad and discuss the challenges ahead, not a reason to sow fear in their hearts.

True, the Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya, last March approved a decision that this year's summit be held in Iraq only if security conditions allow it. "But we are now confident that Iraqi security forces are capable of organising a safe summit in Baghdad, thus paving the way for Iraq's comeback to the Arab ranks."

West impotent before Israel's 'rogue' acts

Over the past couple of days, a flow of condemnation has come out of Europe as Israeli bulldozers knocked down the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem to build an Israeli settlement of 20 housing units in its place.

The pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi stated in its editorial that all condemnations were met with absolute nonchalance and did nothing to stop the demolition. There were thus were futile.

The High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, has strongly denounced the Israeli act and reiterated that the EU considers all Israeli settlements illegal. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said that the Israeli move harms peace efforts.

"All such statements remain without any value as long as they are not coupled with concrete measures, such as imposing economic sanctions on Israel in the same manner other rogue states that breach international legitimacy and threaten world peace and security are handled."

"The West, and especially the US, have got used to 'pampering' Israel and encouraging it to flout international law. The Shepherd Hotel was a central landmark in occupied Jerusalem and was private property." On what grounds then was it torn down?

* Compiled by Achraf El Bahi