France aims to cash in

France, like Britain, hopes to win commercial advantage from helping the Libyan rebels, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics today: Palestinians at the UN, the tug of war over Syria, and Syria's laughable initiative.

France hurries to reap spoils of Libyan war

Reports of the colossal benefits France will be receiving in exchange for its military help in Libya are exaggerated, columnist Mazen Hammad argued in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

According to former French intelligence chief Yves Bonnet, who recently accused his country of sacrificing its honour and credibility for the sake of money and oil, nothing justifies France's claim to the reported €150 billion (Dh760bn) in oil deals.

"We've repeatedly warned about France's and Britain's real motives behind their participation in the fight against Muammar Qaddafi's forces," the writer said.

The French didn't take part in the fight on the ground, but this didn't stop President Nicolas Sarkozi from hurrying to claiming his rewards.

"It is shameful that the West would extend a helping hand to Libya for alleged humanitarian motives, and then rush to file an overblown bill to the NTC, which has yet to receive $1 of the state's billions deposited oversees."

"In his capacity as the overseer of the transitional period, Mustafa Abdel Jalil must protect his country from becoming a marionette in the hands of the new French lords. The Libyan rebels' sacrifices were too great. It is they who should rule Libya and benefit from its riches, not the French, the British or any other 'cowboys' for that matter," the writer concluded.


Turkey and Iran in a tug of war over Syria

The increasing number of countries and people concerned over the Syrian crisis will see the forthright Turkish prime minister's recent statement as an admission of Turkish-Iranian strain, columnist Satea Noureddin said in the Lebanese daily Assafir.

Ankara addressed a clear warning to Tehran to cease overindulging the Syrian regime.

The conflict over Syria has been trudging on since mid-March, when it became clear that the Damascus regime isn't learning the lesson from Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia and has decided to press ahead with its violent option.

It was clear from the first moment that Iran would spare no effort to protect Bashar Al Assad. However, recent statements from Tehran calling upon Mr Al Assad to respond to his people's demands imply that Iran has finally thrown in the towel.

As Mr Al Assad continues his suicidal intransigence, Tehran has been attempting to control the damage and protect its interests in the future Syrian state. But it will not be easy with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the way, forcing Tehran to battle for a stake in Syria under new terms.

"Everyone knows who will win, for geographical, political and even religious considerations," the writer said. "But the battle for Syria was never a Turkish or an Iranian decision; both countries are culprits in overindulging the Syrian regime … the internal dynamics of the crisis could surprise both parties."

Have you heard about the 'Syrian initiative'?

"We've all heard about the Arab League initiative to resolve the crisis in Syria. But I'm not sure how many people have heard about the Syrian initiative for democratisation in the Arab world," Abdul Rahman Al Rashed wrote yesterday in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

The Syrian state news agency said Syria's delegation to the Arab League has proposed, during a recent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, an initiative to "boost democracy and reform in all Arab states".

The initiative calls on Arab countries to lift state of emergency laws, dissolve state security courts and introduce constitutional provisions protecting human rights and public freedoms.

"Splendid ideas," the columnist said, "but there's something really wrong with them: they're coming from the Syrian regime in response to the Arab League's initiative to 'immediately put an end to the bloodshed [in Syria]'."

President Bashar Al Assad's regime believes it hasn't yet lost its knack for "political subterfuge" and "causing embarrassment for other regimes", a skill of which it was once the master, the writer went on. "The truth is that now Syria is in no position to embarrass anybody."

"When the [Syrian] pitch for pan-Arab democratisation was made, no one cared about it, not even the media. Why? Because the Syrian regime lost all merit, and whatever comes from it now is just worthless."

Palestinians must start to think past UN bid

This might be the first time in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that the Palestinians actually "lead the way" and take matters in their own hands, wrote columnist Ibrahim Doaybis in the Palestinian paper Al Quds.

He was referring to the Palestinian Authority's decision to press ahead with a motion at the UN General Assembly, asking for recognition of Palestine as a state.

The columnist said the pressures exerted by US and European officials on the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, had not borne fruit. "In his speech on Friday, President Abbas dispelled all doubts and proved that we have indeed overcome all pressures, threats and warnings."

Columnist Hassan Abdullah, writing for the same newspaper, noted that a lot has been said about the various legal and political aspects of the prospective Palestinian bid at the UN, but very little about the stage after that.

Palestinians will have to prepare for that, he said.

"The vote is not going to change anything on the ground, since occupation will continue," he observed, but the Palestinian strategy must change.

The PA must capitalise on the fast-paced geopolitical transformations in the region. For only diplomacy is going to win the next battle in the Palestinian struggle.


* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk

Published: September 19, 2011 04:00 AM


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