"The formation of the National Iraqi Alliance ahead of the legislative elections next January demonstrates many political changes and it has revealed how democratic practices can adapt to sectarian divisions. The new coalition groups one dominant sect but also other political forces representing various sects," wrote Walid Nouayhed in a comment piece featured in the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat.
The decision of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, leader of Islamic Dawa party, to quit the alliance is a reaction to rising differences within this bloc. Yet it is not certain this will lead the Iraqi premier to establish a new alliance based on principles of nationhood to counter the newly-born National Iraqi Alliance. "This is because Mr al Maliki cannot set up a winning electoral base outside his sectarian and regional centres of political influence.The same is true for other political forces. For them to win the majority of votes, the competing political blocs have to stick to their sects." Again, Iraq's next elections are likely to reflect the same political spectrum that would be dominated by geographical, ethnic and religious considerations. "Iraqi politics will remain hostage of these variables that continue to guide the voters' choice."
In a comment piece for the Jordan-based newspaper Al Rai, Dr Riyad Hamouda Yasin wrote that because of Palestinian internal conflicts, international powers have found it legitimate to interfere.
The Israelis knew, when withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, that this would create divisions among the Palestinians because there was no authority in place to effectively control the Strip. They also knew that Hamas was strengthening its position and was likely to overthrow Fatah, hence breaking the unity of the Palestinians. The Europeans and Americans believe that the conflict over the Gaza Strip reflects a conflict of interests between moderate forces represented by Fatah and extremist forces represented by Hamas. "Israel used the media to widely criminalise the latter, describing it as a group that threatens its existence and stalls the peace process in the region. Israel went further to say that Hamas is the real threat to the Palestinian people and their supreme interests."
Such claims give the Israelis grounds for calling on the international community to trim the growing strength of Hamas. This is why the West is enthusiastic about supporting the Palestinian Authority, regardless of whether this would serve the Palestinians well. Yet the current state of division has only delayed internal dialogue among the Palestinian factions, a situation that will further benefit the Israelis.
"The crisis between the ruling elite in Iran has been surrounded by uncertainty. Reports are contradictory, especially those issued by the supreme leader's media office. But what is certain is that the crisis will persist as evidenced by the battle over forming the government," wrote Tariq al Homayed in an opinion piece for the London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat.
Today it is clear that the supreme leader strongly holds power. He resorted to abducting reformists following a known "hostage policy" at which Iran excels. Since the Islamic revolution erupted, Iran has made use of hostages to open back-door channels of negotiations with the West. The supreme leader has again had recourse to the same tactic in dealing with reformists who objected to the last election results. Many leaders were detained and referred to fabricated trials. Vocal reformists were forced to muzzle their mouths.
The regime boasts now about its victory, whereas sources close to reformists have said the battle has not ended yet. They added that their major concern was to release the detainees and protect those who fled Iran. "The Iranian regime, as we see, is not only a dictatorship, but also a machine abducting its own people. This means that the establishment is in a deep crisis, no matter how it tries to hide this truth."
"What is the use of the meeting in London between the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the US envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell?" asked the lead opinion article of the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. The US would like to relaunch negotiations as soon as possible. The US Department of State was reported as saying that the meeting was intended to lay down the basis for prospective talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. It added they had achieved some progress.
"But we are wondering about the agreement that is coming at a time Nethanyahu's government has no intention to change its policy in regard to settlement expansion." The US administration called for stopping all forms of settlements, which is a very positive attitude likely to revive the peace process. But Mr Nethanyahu is opposed to a total freeze of his infamous policy. He only accepted a temporary suspension of construction bids in the West Bank. Unfortunately, this move is not conducive at all to achieving the long-awaited peace.
"In this way, the Israelis would like to strip the Arabs of their winning cards and then go on as usual with their policy of procrastination." * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi firstname.lastname@example.org