Allawi is Iraq's indispensable man

'Trying to eliminate him will only come as a great disservice to the whole democratisation process in Iraq.'

Ayad Allawi, the winner of the last Iraqi national elections, listed a series of facts, corroborated by third-party governments and security bodies, proving that he was recently the target of an assassination attempt to blow up his plane, wrote Abdulrahman al Rashed in a column for the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat. "Everyone knows that Iraq is a site of executions and landmines and that Mr Allawi's head is the most targeted today. The murders of three members of his alliance were just a result of that."

The 91 parliamentary seats that Mr Allawi's coalition won in the last elections and his established political stature have been causing discontent among his rivals, but trying to eliminate him will only come as a great disservice to the whole democratisation process in Iraq.  "Any such aggression will have dire repercussions on the country and, by undermining the choice of the Iraqi voters, will re-involve all regional and international powers who won't allow an unbalanced political transformation to take place." The Iraqi government will be the first to be held accountable in the event of a security shortfall, for the safety of party leaders remains the government's responsibility. That was basically Mr Allawi's message: the Iraqi government isn't doing enough to protect the Iraqi people's choice.

"Is it true that the new Turkish role in the Middle East-Middle Asia-Caucasus triangle is being carried out with the 'hush-hush blessing' of the Obama administration?" asked Saad Mehio in the opinion pages of the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.

It is widely speculated that the Turkish prime minister, Recep Erdogan, who is closely watched by the secular military of his country, cannot afford to turn his back to the US and Europe because that would potentially cause the whole 90-year-old, western-premised Ataturk legacy to fall to pieces. Visible divergences between Washington and Ankara have, on the other hand, led British, American and Israeli newspapers to proclaim the West's "loss" of Turkey. But no one can yet argue convincingly that Ankara is turning into another Tehran.

Turkey's move eastwards by no means entails a severance of ties with the West; perhaps the contrary is true. For one thing, the move further bolsters Turkey's eligibility for a seat in the European Union and a more advanced status in international politics. For another, Ankara and Washington share a common strategic interest: stability in the Middle East. The former aims to expand its economic reach into regional markets and the latter seeks to retain its position as the global leader based on its stabilising efforts in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

More developments are hammering home the already well-known conclusion that the US and its allies are desperately failing to beat the Taliban or draw up an exit plan from Afghanistan, commented Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.  Diplomatic efforts did nothing to make up for the West's failure on the military front. The US-led campaign could not attract the Taliban movement to the negotiating table, as the latter has so far rejected all offers for peace and power sharing and stuck to its pre-condition that all foreign forces leave the country before any kind of settlement is discussed.

A new UN report on the situation in Afghanistan, based on testimonies by the highest ranking military officials before Congress, found that suicide operations and bomb attacks over the past four months have doubled compared to the same period last year. The UN report was soon followed by a statement from a former British counter-terrorism chief - currently a UN adviser on Taliban affairs - who said US and British efforts to expand control over Afghan territories over recent months have yielded negative results, actually making the security situation worse. "The striking thing about these two reports is that neither of them include a single bright spot or some prospect of military or political improvement in dealing with the Afghan crisis."

Reaction to the aggression upon a group of Sudanese refugees by Lebanese security agents earlier this month has reached the diplomatic spheres between the two countries, the Lebanese newspaper Assafir reported from Khartoum.

Lebanese security members are said to have gate-crashed a fundraising reception organised by some 150 mostly Sudanese refugees in southern Beirut to collect donations for the treatment of a child with cancer. Lebanese officials are reported to have used offensive language before beating the refugees brutally.  Though the Sudanese embassy in Beirut tried to play down the assault, the Sudanese community in Lebanon and on the internet has been actively critical of their host country's police, which pushed the Lebanese ambassador to Khartoum, Ahmed Shammat, to hold a press conference. He condemned the incident and re-affirmed the strong ties between the two "brotherly" states which, he said, won't be affected by "the behaviour of a handful of security officers".

"If some mistakes were made by this or that officer, his superiors will take the procedural and legal actions against him, so they would serve as an example for others," the ambassador said. * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi