Asif Zardari sees the writing on the wall

The Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari stated that the western forces are losing the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, which translates as the beginning of the end for the US failed military project in the country, commented the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

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The Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari stated that the western forces are losing the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, which translates as the beginning of the end for the US failed military project in the country, commented the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi. Mr Zardari is the president of an Islamic state that spearheads the US project in Afghanistan and is its biggest ally in the war on terrorism.

The White House reaction was expected, as it declared that the US president Barack Obama doesn't agree with his Pakistani counterpart's statements. Mr Obama has based his politics on a victory in the Afghan war, which he hopes would revitalise his dwindling popularity. However, the facts on the ground and recent WikiLeaks documents support Zardari's statements about the futility of this war that had been raging on for nine years. Washington's allies are coming to grips with the defeat and starting to withdraw their troop, under constant pressures from their people.

"The Taliban are winning this war not because they are more powerful or better equipped, but because they are defending their territories and resisting a foreign occupation, just as the Afghans always did, successfully, throughout the years." President Obama must ponder Mr Zardari's comments and act on them if he is to save his popularity and contain his losses.

"The United States' involvement in the Palestinian-Israeli direct talks will be fruitless if the US continues to pressure one side and exercise lenience with the other," commented Mohamed al Hammadi in the Emirati daily Al Ittihad. The unrelenting pressure from the US president Obama Barack on the Palestinians to move to direct talks can only mean that the US doesn't really care about the results of the negotiations as much as succeeding to initiate them. Washington's main concern is to add this success to its foreign policy portfolio.

The Palestinian prerequisites for the negotiations were simple and reasonable; they needed clear guarantees from the US regarding settlement activities, the borders and Jerusalem. It is strange that the US didn't respond to them. Obama's letter to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was threatening; refusal to engage in direct talks with Israel would jeopardise Palestine's relationship with the US. This letter confirms the fact the US is pressuring Palestinians to do their part, while merely mentioning that Washington would "seek" Israel's involvement. The Palestinians must realise that their differences are undermining their ability to impose their will. They need a new Palestinian vision to help their cause.

The US administration is wondering whether Israel is becoming a burden, rather than an important ally for them in the Middle East, comments Saad Mehio for the Emirati daily Al Khaleej. After Israel's failed war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer asked: "How could Israel commit such a major military mistake, knowing that it might cost it its status as a strategic asset for the US?"

In the summer of 2010, US army general David Petraeus, along with army leaders, accused Israelof wanting to implicate the US in a war on Iran while it already has its plate full with Iraq and Afghanistan. Such remarks imply that Israel is turning into a heavy burden rather than a prized treasure. For some time now, Israel has been trying to prove to Washington that it is still its biggest asset. Hence, it waged its destructive attack on Gaza in 2008, and is now preparing for new rounds of aggression on Lebanon and possibly Iran.

Israel is in a very risky position at the moment, and has to choose between two game-changing options: either win a new war, and prove to the US that they are an ally worth having in the Middle East region, or lose the war, along with its military credibility, which would inevitably lead the US to make radical changes in its foreign policy, and rely on Turkey or Egypt as their new political powers in the region.

Tueseday's altercations between the Lebanese army and the Israeli forces in south Lebanon can be interpreted as a full-fledged aggression with multiple targets, comments Rajeh al Khouri in Lebanese daily Annahar. In retaliating against Israeli hostility, the Lebanese army proved its readiness to confront any aggression on Lebanese soil. However, the events held more than one message. They target the Lebanese army as it widens its deployment in the south. They sent a provocation message to Hizbullah just hours before Sayed Nasrallah's speech on the fourth anniversary of his party's victory over Israel.

The aggression can also be seen as an attack on the Arab efforts that were consecrated in the tripartite summit in Beirut last week, which confirmed the Arab world's support for Lebanon's stability and security. The timing of the operation was aimed at undermining the importance of King Abdullah's and President Assad's joint visit. Israel's bold attempt in South Lebanon can be read as a provocation in the hope of a war that Israel has been preparing for, especially now that Iran seems to be leaning toward negotiations with the US over the nuclear issue, which would shatter Israel's dreams of a war against Iran.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem