News from the Arab Press

How Abbas Became A Scapegoat

By Asaf Zilberfarb | The Media Line

November 21, 2017

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Al-Jazeera, Qatar, November 18

One very unhappy Arab leader these days is Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian president has been the victim—quite literally the punching bag—of almost every Arab leader in the region. He has been thrown under the bus at almost every possible occasion, by the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Lebanese, and others. According to recent reports, Abbas was recently summoned to Saudi Arabia where he was warned, perhaps even threatened, that unless he accepts the American-backed peace plan being devised by Jared Kushner he will be forced out of office. The Saudi Crown Prince has supposedly presented Abbas with a framework for peace that the Palestinian premier is being pressured to accept; this, without a chance to voice his grievances or provide his own input regarding the proposal. It remains unclear what exactly was offered to the Palestinian president in Riyadh, but one thing is certain: the Saudis have succumbed to the Americans and have decided to back Washington at any cost. In the broader picture of Middle East politics, the Saudis even appear to view the Palestinians as a burden. The current U.S. administration appears prepared to promote a regional plan that is multifaceted. It involves amendments to the Iranian nuclear deal, a normalization of ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors and the launching of peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. For this process to succeed, the Americans have placed their bets on the Saudi Crown Prince, who they view as a trustworthy and powerful ally capable of promoting such changes. President Trump has been vocal in his support of the Saudis and is willing to put his money where his mouth is. He already announced the signing of multi-billion dollar deals with the Royal House, and he is prepared to take joint military cooperation to the next level by providing Riyadh with state-of-the-art American technology. This strengthening of relations comes just weeks after Trump urged the Saudi king to choose Wall Street as the venue for the initial public offering of the oil conglomerate Aramco, expected to take place in early 2018. It seems as if both leaders have a lot to gain from partnering with each other, and that the Israelis are satisfied with this emerging alliance. The Palestinians, meanwhile, are again pushed into the corner, left with their backs against the wall. – Nasser Jawda

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