Ahmadinejad backed into a new corner

Beside the simmering green revolution, two more imminent battles are looming ahead: economic and military, wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed, describing the challenges facing Iran in an opinion piece for the London-based Asharq Al Awsat newspaper.

Beside the simmering green revolution, two more imminent battles are looming ahead: economic and military, wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed, describing the challenges facing Iran in an opinion piece for the London-based Asharq Al Awsat newspaper. The opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has changed strategy to ensure a longer life for his movement. For this, he has adopted an ambivalent attitude. He espoused the regime's policy of standing against external threats but expressed his resentment against the government, accusing it for being responsible for the current situation.

He and his fellow opposition leaders feel they can win the support of both the Iranian people, who support the nuclear programme, and the West, which is exerting growing pressure on the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In this complex situation the Iranian president might find himsef weaker and seek internal support. He would then be under even more pressure from the opposition. Mr Ahmadineajd is purportedly sending messages to the West in an attempt to stop eventual sanctions, as when he despatched his foreign minister to discuss the possibility of resuming talks on outsourcing uranium enrichment. He apparently did so in order to keep his nuclear programme alive and to evade international sanctions.

In a comment piece for the Qatari Al Watan daily, Ahmad Khaleel criticised the situation in Iraq during the last seven years, when successive sectarian governments took power and formed militias that worked under the cover of official security institutions, such as the army and the police. Such a situation has deeply affected the social fabric and what constitutes an Iraqi national identity.

Now that elections have been held, a partnership between different political forces is needed to overturn the persistent political situation. Theoretically, there should be no monopoly of power as that contrasts with national interests and would likely have dire consequences for Iraqis. Any new conflict over power will prolong sectarian strife and reinforce a deadly political culture. Iraqiyya, the winning list in the last election, criticised the new political alliance which aims at excluding it by forming a parliamentary majority and proposing a representative for the position of prime minister. If the goal behind the close integration between the Rule of Law coalition and the National Iraqi Alliance is to consolidate power based on sectarianism, then the political situation in Iraq is likely to deteriorate.

In comment article for the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam, Rajab Abu Sariya argued that the Hamas movement had lost many opportunities to escape the state of isolation in which it lives. And even though it tried during the last Arab summit in Libya to reach out to Arab countries, offering to engage in a national reconciliation process, it failed to convince many.

The Hamas proposal came late. As many regional and internal factors have changed since it won the 2006 elections and overthrew the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, Hamas's existence has become contingent upon the status quo situation in the region. Any sudden changes will first hit the movement. Even if Hamas is serious about reconciliation efforts, that would require its complete submission to the Palestinain Authority. That would help to overcome the long stalemate and to provide a good atmosphere for organising elections on a proportional representation system. But to reach this stage, Hamas must transform itself into a more social and political organisation. Meanwhile, the Palestianian Authority has resisted Israeli attempts to make use of the divisions between the two main political factions and impose its settlement conditions.

In a lead article, the UAE Al Khaleej newspaper objected to the idea that the crisis between the US and Israel is a real one, arguing that it is a form of deception, which has made Arabs overconfident of a favourable American attitude.

"Arabs forget that what unites the US and Israel is greater than mere transient differences in points of view. The two states are bound to each other by a strong strategic alliance based on mutual interests where Israel's empowerment is the main component. The main aim is to make Israel the only major force in the region." At the height of the seeming crisis, "we heard the US president Barack Obama say that he was not willing to impose any solution on Israel, which implies that it still has free rein to force its agenda".

For her part, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, expressed a similar attitude when she recently said that her country would always stand by Israel and share its concerns. Mrs Clinton thus placed Israel's security and empowerment as a top US foreign policy. This attitude should serve as a wake-up call to all Arabs to accept the reality that the US's committment to Israel's security is at the expense of theirs.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae