Iraq should be teeming with celebrations rather than explosions, with the withdrawal of the bulk of US troops after seven years of occupation, declared the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial. The recent series of bloody explosions that shook various districts of the country and left more than 50 dead are a reason for fear and panic among Iraqis.
The Iraqi people are in the throws of aggravated crises. Due to sectarian differences and outside interference, the political elite is still unable to form a government. The electrical power is almost completely down during an especially hot summer. Now, these recent attacks add to the Iraqis' plight. The aggressions were highly systematic. They relied on various types of explosives and suicide attacks that were certain to wreak the most havoc and expose the security defects of the government and, consequently, its inability to run the country.
Preliminary reports stated that the attacks carry Al Qa'eda's signature and herald its vigorous return to Iraq. If such reports are true, no hope of stability in the short term can be entertained for Iraq. The political environment at the moment is particularly receptive to extremism. With the US admitting failure in Iraq and the feebleness of the Iraqi security forces, the country is sure to be thrown once again into a state of bloody chaos.
International sanctions are taving their toll on the Iranian economy and their effects can be felt among ordinary local consumers. However, these strict sanctions designed to force Iran to halt its nuclear programme are in fact strengthening the ruling elite, wrote Mazen Hammad for the Qatari daily Al Watan. Commercial governmental operations controlled by the Revolutionary Guard have found various ways to circumvent sanctions, such as establishing private companies used as facades for banned companies.
The Supreme Guardian of the Iranian revolution described the restrictions imposed on his country as an opportunity for the government. In fact, the ruling system is benefitting from trade and financial ties with China to evade sanctions and the Iranian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry is now more powerful than the Central Bank of Iran. At the same time, government- related companies are seeking to establish offices in Kurdistan, Iraq, Venezuela and the Gulf countries. Offshore offices are used to sell goods to Iran through fake addresses in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and other middle Asian counties. The only side effect is that this method increases prices for consumers. Breaking the sanctions has become an industry of its own right. In fact, imports and exports through Bushehr port are not only stable but growing.
Last Tuesday in Beirut saw clashes between supporters of the Shiite group Hizbollah and a Sunni faction known as Al Ahbash, which left three dead. In a comment piece for the Lebanese daily Annahar, Ali Hamadeh wrote: "The clashes didn't come as a surprise. What happened is the result of the control of militia weapons."
The confrontations, later described as individual, occurred among factions thought of as allies. They can probably be interpreted as mutual messages between leaderships. However, the incident was certainly a militia attack on the security of citizens. Lebanese political powers are overwhelmed by discussions about Hizbollah's weapons within the framework of the defence strategy, but their arms remain an internal threat as they were alonce used against the Lebanese themselves.
"After the incidents of May 7, 2008 it has become impossible to distinguish between militia and resistance weapons, as the same weapons were aimed at the Lebanese and are a constant threat to their security." These same weapons are brandished to "burn the country up" in case an incriminating indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is issued. Lebanon will keep falling prey to militia wars such as the one witnessed last week unless all arms are withdrawn and military power is controlled solely by the government.
In a comment piece on the anticipated Palestinian-Israeli peace talks to be held next month, Abdallah Iskandar, the managing editor of pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, wrote: "The negotiations, in their present condition and circumstances, can't be expected to lead to peace or to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state." With the exception of the propaganda and the public relations campaign that the Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched in preparation for the talks, the comments by all parties concerned show the fragility, even the absence of, any sustainable goals.
The question to be raised is what prompted the Palestinian Authority to agree to participate in direct talks, knowing that they would lead to nothing. In fact, the increasingly weakening Palestinian Authority doesn't have the luxury of choice in the negotiating equation, especially with the rise in Arab and regional states conflicts of interest within the negotiations process. The Palestinian Authority would have been able to decline any participation in the direct talks as they are currently designed if the Arab and regional interests had been converging. The negotiations are and will remain controlled by considerations foreign to the Palestinian cause.
* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem @Email:email@example.com