Turkey embarks on new regional strategy

The accession to power of the Justice and Development Party has taken Turkey into a new direction that signals a change of strategy.

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The accession to power of the Justice and Development Party has taken Turkey into a new direction that signals a change of strategy, wrote Fayez Rashid in an opinion article published by the Qatari daily Al Sharq. The main themes of this new strategy are independence and distance from the West, a balanced regional policy and more rapprochement with the Arab world in general and neighbouring countries in particular. The aim is to restore the historic image of Turkey as a central actor in the Arab region and the Caucasus.

This new strategy has been implemented progressively and translated into practical steps, including the country's reaction to Israel's war on Gaza and cancellation of previously scheduled military exercises with Israel. Ankara has signed more than 30 agreements and 10 protocols of understanding with Damascus in  all fields: defence, security, health, agriculture, environment, energy and transport, in addition to the requirement for entrance visas for citizens of the two countries. With Baghdad, dozens of bilateral agreements have been signed, but most significant was the Turkish mediation in the conflict between Syria and Iraq. The new strategy is aimed at obtaining international recognition of the regional role of Turkey. Arab countries should, at this point, seek closer relations with their historic neighbour.

The Afghan presidential elections runoff, scheduled for next November 7, is not expected to yield significantly better results than the first round in the absence of conditions for regular poll management, stated the Saudi Arabic daily Al Watan in its main editorial.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, agreed to a runoff after UN investigators found a quarter of the votes were fraudulent, but the electoral crisis in Afghanistan goes beyond fraud. The security situation and low voter participation will remain two main factors. In the continuing absence of security and development, the electoral process in Afghanistan will remain the natural result of international and regional conflicting interests, particularly since that country is still unable to produce a strong political internal front.

The international community, which provides "on the surface" support for the democratic transition, is still unable to achieve any progress on the ground. The low participation rate in the poll should be analysed in terms of regional vote rates, as the trend is evident in Pashtun areas which are the most security-sensitive nationwide. Thus, the priority for the international community should be to support a government of national unity by bringing together Afghan political groups, rather that seeking to produce an electoral process that will ultimately not meet the needs on the ground.

The mounting controversy between Palestinian groups after the announcement by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, of his decision to call legislative and presidential elections amid the blockage of the national reconciliation process is proof that Palestinians are more than ever in need of engaging in a real dialogue, noted the Jordanian daily Al Rai in an editorial.

Reconciliation is becoming an urgent imperative or the Palestinian people and their just cause will pay the highest price. The current Israeli government is conducting an aggressive, well-co-ordinated attack against the legitimate rights of Palestinians, rejecting the two-state plan and refusing to halt settlements. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is setting unacceptable conditions for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

The current controversy weakens the Palestinians' positions and averts international attention from the settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is also undermining all Palestinian efforts to exert pressure on Israel to fulfil its commitments as stated by the road map agreements. There is still a chance to rise above conflicts that should not prevail over the higher interests of the Palestinian people who have made every sacrifice to recover their legitimate rights and resist the Israeli military machine.

Somalia is the only country in the world that has, as unbelievable as it may seem, managed to solve the problem of unemployment, wrote Mohammed Zine al Aidarous in an opinion column in the Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah.   "After thorough investigation, we have discovered that there is not a single Somali without a job." All are working and all are paid, daily and in US dollars.

Everyone holds a machine gun and a grenade. They are not doing so to defend their country, but for a daily wage that runs from $5 to $10. Even women have been recruited for the ugly job. Children receive $3 daily to serve as human shields for warlords. A few days ago, a warlord invented a new game, with a lucky draw on a machine gun, two grenades and an anti-tank mine. An exceptional child refused to receive his prize. He was too brilliant for a grenade: he claimed an atom bomb.

Everyone is working and paid daily in Somalia. No one is jobless. Warlords are currently thinking of bringing expatriate workers from neighbouring countries to hold machine guns and a grenades. * Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji mnaji@thenational.ae