Talabani's strange attitude toward Iran

He should know that if he fails in his role as a symbol of unity for all Iraqis, the country will turn into cantons and Iranian preserves.

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"The president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, claims that he is the only one familiar with the situation in Iraq. He insists that he notices any major Iranian interference in Iraqi internal affairs. He also insists that Iranians today look upon Iraq from afar," wrote Salah al Qallab in an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda. It appears that Mr Talabani is more concerned about unifying the Iraqi Shia position than strengthening the union of the country. He should know that Iraq is facing a critical situation of extreme political polarisation that is tearing it apart. He should also know if he fails in his role as a symbol of unity for all Iraqis, the country will turn into cantons and Iranian preserves.

It is hard to believe that Iran is not responsible for what is going on in Iraq. And it is hard to accept what Mr Talabani told the London-based newspaper Ashraq al Awsat that he has not noticed, at least recently, any Iranian's meddling in Iraqi politics. His statements stood in sharp contrast with what one can see and hear everywhere in Iraq. The impact of Persian culture is so prevalent. In the south, the business language is Persian, and the Iranian Tuman currency is widely used. One more point, if Iran is looking at Iraq from afar, as Mr Talabani claims, in what manner then can we explain his visit to Tehran at the time when the Arab summit kicked off in Libya?

A pro-Palestinian Authority politician described Hamas's recent willingness to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as "immoral", wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed in an opinion piece for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

By taking this attitude, Hamas retreated from its past convictions. Rather it decried all those who still hold to them. "I told this seasoned politician that this is politics: no morals, no loyalty. The Hamas government shocked many of its supporters and warned its competitors. It surprised all by expressing its interest in establishing relations with the US administration and by supporting a peaceful settlement without preconditions.

"The reason behind this sudden change is that Hamas is following the leadership of Syria. So wherever Damascus's compass points to, so does Hamas's." If it is serious in its claim, Hamas's change will serve the Palestinian cause, regardless of the political competition that might arise.    Yet a question rises: has Hamas really taken a different political U-turn that will last? "If yes, then we will experience a political breakthrough in the region. ~But even so, we should remain cautious. Hamas is known to lack power over its political will, plus the present step amounts only to statements that need practical implementation."

"Does Lebanon have to endure a permanent war of liberation?" This question was posed by Saad Mehio in a comment article for the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej. On Tuesday, the Lebanese commemorated the tenth anniversary of liberation, which coincided with the retreat of Israel from the South of Lebanon. In the wake of this occasion, Israel decided, however, to carry out its biggest civil defence exercises.

Although the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his military team were keen to notify Lebanon and Syria that such drills were simply a routine procedure and not a prelude to imminent military action, it is still wise to stay cautious. This should prompt us to question the reasons that actually motivated Israel to sustain such huge costs by freezing all civil and economic activities for five long days.

"Of course, the Lebanese resistance is not happy with such assurances from Israel. It rather considers the Israeli statements as part of a strategy to disguise real intentions of military action. The resistance made a point when it expressed its discomfort, as Israel has been known for following both pre-emptive and preventive war tactics. Given these factors, Lebanon will remain under stress and should always be on the alert to fend off imminent risks.

"The US directive entitling the expansion of secret military activities in certain regions in the world is a serious escalation in interventionist policies," wrote Mazen Hammad in a comment piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. The order was signed last September by Gen David Petraeus, a top US military commander in the Middle East, and was released by The New York Times. The order states that the US has the right to attack "extremist groups" in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

While the former US administration under president George Bush admitted undertaking secret military actions, the new order would expand this practice and make it more systematic and sustainable. This means there is no need to refer to the president or to the Congress for approval prior to the implementation of an action, as was the case before. Even though the order does not specify activities against states, it allows for reconnaissance operations to pave the way for possible military attacks.

Perhaps. the new plan is tailor-made for Iran, as the US is seeking to enter this country undercover and collect intelligence information about its nuclear project and opposition groups that could be useful. * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae