Saudi-Iraqi initiative is a major opportunity

The Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz¿s summons to all Iraqi officials to convene in Riyadh, under the umbrella of the Arab League, is favourable for Iraq and the entire region, wrote Tareq Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz's summons to all Iraqi officials to convene in Riyadh, under the umbrella of the Arab League, is favourable for Iraq and the entire region, wrote Tareq Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The importance of this appeal lies in the fact that the Saudi king invited all Iraqi parties and political factions to openly discuss their own future. The Iraqi situation indeed requires an initiative that would save the country from a dark, horrendous fate.

In the absence of positive initiatives that equate all of Iraq's citizens, King Abdullah's invitation comes at an opportune time to find a solution for Iraq's impasse by the Iraqis themselves, away from any external influences.

In addition to proposing the initiative, the Saudi kingdom also reiterated its readiness to offer assistance and support for any decision that would be reached in the aim of bringing peace and security back to Iraq.

Saudi Arabia's power is its credibility. The king's proposition is a historical opportunity for Iraq and the region. Iraqis of all sides must seize it, for in Saudi Arabia the convention will be free of incitement and instigation of the parties against one another. The main purpose is to reach a consensus that would preserve Iraq's very existence and independence.

Yemen's al Qa'eda is becoming more active

US intelligence information published in The International Herald Tribune reveals that Washington had notified the Yemeni leadership last year of classified reports about al Qa'eda's plans to target them and their families, observes the columnist Mazen Hammad in an article for the Qatari daily Al Watan.

Since then, Yemeni authorities intensified attacks on the organisation and granted US aircraft permission to bomb mountainous sites believed to be hiding places for Al Qaeda members.

Attention is once again focused on Yemen with news about a conspiracy to send explosive parcels from Yemen to the US. Details of this sort are being set up in the inaccessible Yemeni mountains, where US citizens of Yemeni descent are helping al Qa'eda in Yemen to target US territories.

In spite of the anti-terrorism collaboration agreement between Washington and Sana'a, CIA officials are growing more alarmed with the recent increase in the terrorist organisation's activities.

Analysts say al Qa'eda has access to explosives and technological skills. They add that the US is not the primary target for al Qa'eda's branch in Yemen. It is more focused on striking at the Yemeni and Saudi governments.

However, rumours about attacking the US does grant the organisation more expansive media attention and supports recruitment and mobilisation efforts.

Hizbollah is in mutiny against justice

Hizbollah's declared mutiny against international justice as represented by the international investigation committee into the assassination of the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri is mutiny against the UN Security Council, commented the columnist Ali Hamadeh in an article for the Lebanese daily Annahar.

An armed organisation with questionable domestic popularity cannot put itself, its civilian public and the entire country in a confrontation with the world. The Special Tribunal is essential for Lebanon's quest to unveil the killers of Mr Hariri and a series of Lebanese leading figures.

This controversial and divisive organisation cannot be allowed to take decisions on its own about the Lebanese people's fate and interests in an attempt to replicate the Iranian experience.

"Lebanon is no Iran. Lebanon is based on diversity and legal equality. The issue here is that a section of the people is being instigated to break away from Lebanese law and coexistence based on the illusion of power."

The country is currently living its darkest days under a widespread phenomenon of armed partisan dictatorship and it is steadily nearing the abyss.

This decline must stop immediately before it is too late. Hizbollah alone is capable of halting this decline by returning to the realm of state laws and accepting the rules and obligations of coexistence.

US elections have an impact on Middle East

The recent stagnation in US-Israeli-Palestinian negotiations only confirms suspicions that the US president Barack Obama's administration has been disabled by the upcoming elections, declared the Emirati daily Al Bayan in its editorial.

On the one hand, this state of paralysis would be exacerbated if Mr Obama's party were to lose ground to the Republicans who would then have complete control of the House and the Senate, transforming the current administration into a lame duck.

On the other hand, this electoral "truce" could have positive aspects as it could motivate Mr Obama and the Democrats to reach for some great achievement that could be exploited in the next presidential elections.

Democrats are expected to lose the mid-term elections on Tuesday and US patronage of the peace process in the Middle East could fall victim in this lost battle since the administration would have to focus its attention on internal change, while external attention would give priority to Afghanistan.

Mr Obama had launched his presidential term with the Israeli-Palestinian issue as a national security priority. Two years into his term, however, he has lost any leverage with the Israeli government, although he succeeded briefly in freezing settlement activities.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem