Voices from the Arab Press: A fragile peace agreement

From the US perspective, the deal gives Washington a chance to get out of Afghanistan, something President Donald Trump has promised to do since he came to power.

Afghans watch a live TV broadcast during an agreement signing ceremony between US and the Taliban (photo credit: OMAR SOBHANI / REUTERS)
Afghans watch a live TV broadcast during an agreement signing ceremony between US and the Taliban
(photo credit: OMAR SOBHANI / REUTERS)
Al-Etihad, UAE, April 16
The peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan appears to be in danger of collapse.
For several months, the Taliban negotiated with the US administration a deal aimed at bringing peace to war-torn Afghanistan.
Although the two sides signed the agreement two months ago, the momentum for its implementation has markedly slowed down, as the Taliban accused the United States of committing serious violations of the agreement, including attacks by unmanned aircraft against civilians and delaying the release of 5,000 prisoners from US-supervised jails.
This development alone indicates the great lack of trust that exists between the two parties. The difficulty in implementing the agreement comes at a time when the United States has been shifting its attention to its domestic concerns revolving around coronavirus. From the US perspective, the deal gives Washington a chance to get out of Afghanistan, something President Donald Trump has promised to do since he came to power.
However, the success of the project depends on more than just these two sides. A third party, the Afghan government, must also provide its consent to the agreement. This is considered more decisive. If the Afghan government and the Taliban fail to work together sincerely, then Afghanistan can once again plunge into endless chaos.
On their end, Taliban activists have launched an extensive awareness-raising campaign for coronavirus, working to emphasize the need for residents to remain in quarantine, wear masks and use gloves. They have also provided safe corridors in Afghanistan for health workers and international organizations working to prevent the spread of the virus. In doing so, the Taliban hope that they can help build trust with the government, leading to a permanent ceasefire.
However, this has not happened yet, as the Taliban continue to launch attacks against Afghan security forces while the government refuses to release the Taliban prisoners in its grip. Therefore, it is clear that a fatal epidemic has not succeeded in bringing a degree of ceasefire between the parties to the conflict so far.
– Zuhur Al-Rahman
Al-Rai, Kuwait, April 15
Last week, members of the “OPEC Plus” alliance agreed to reduce oil production rates by 10 million barrels per day, starting from the beginning of May for an initial period of two months. This was done as a part of an action plan to save and restore balance to the global oil market.
OPEC Plus also agreed to reduce total production for a subsequent period lasting six months starting in early July to eight million barrels per day, before applying another reduction of six million per day for 16 months starting in January 2021. This agreement is considered a milestone in the history of oil production, allowing oil-producing nations to finally end their price wars and battles over market share. Moreover, the agreement represents an unprecedented reduction in production levels, with Saudi Arabia and Russia reducing their own level to 8.5 million barrels per day.
Still, the prevailing belief is that the surplus in the market remains considerably high – in the range of 10 million barrels per day – despite the deal. This means that oil prices will suffer from continuous downward pressures during the second quarter of this year, and the proposed OPEC Plus cuts alone will not suffice in reversing the trend.
The main shock to the market came as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which took a huge toll on global demand for oil. Of particular interest was Saudi Arabia’s role in handling these negotiations. The talks were successful thanks to the immense diplomatic efforts exercised by His Highness Prince Abdulaziz, the minister of energy, who orchestrated the conference, facilitated communications with all international parties and maintained transparency and credibility with external actors and the media. He did so in an extremely short period of time.
Now it remains to be seen how the markets will react. One school believes that the market will witness a recovery during the second half of this year, and that prices will hover around $35 a barrel. The second school is concerned with the potential lack of commitment to the reduction, claiming that the agreement came too late. According to these experts, prices will continue to plunge, hovering between $20 and $25 a barrel, and start climbing back toward $30 only at the end of 2020.
– Mohammed Al-Shatti
Akhbar Al-Youm, Egypt, April 15
I’ll never forget the sight of Kamal Al-Helbawy, a member of Muslim Brotherhood, crying heavily on a live morning talk show when news broke that several Brotherhood members involved in terrorist activity had been expelled from Qatar. What was striking about Helbawy’s appearance that morning was how telling it was of the way in which the Brotherhood succeeds in portraying itself as the perennial victim.
Brotherhood members are trying to infiltrate people’s minds with false logic and sweet lies in an effort to revive their movement and restore its popularity. It is their ultimate hope that by doing so, they will be able to re-enter society as a dominant political force. The most recent manifestation of this dream is the Brotherhood’s recent call on the Egyptian government to release all of the group’s prisoners due to the coronavirus situation, despite the Ministry of Interior’s insistence that there have been no outbreaks in any state prisons.
Similarly, even if an outbreak were to occur in these prisons, it would target all, and not just Brotherhood prisoners. Why, then, demand the release of only some inmates and not others? If history has taught us anything, it’s that the Brotherhood cares only about itself. It never abandoned its politics of terror and violence, and has not abided by a single one of the agreements and treaties it signed. It violated promises made to King Farouk, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak.
Any honeymoon with the Brotherhood does not last more than a few weeks. The Brotherhood is dangerous to the stability of our country. A living example is the Brotherhood’s call to take to the streets and protest, despite the quarantine orders. Egypt has one state, one government and one law. Its institutions are based on the values of justice and equality. No single group is held at a higher status, nor is it eligible for more rights than others. Whoever accepts these rules is free to live in Egypt and promote whatever political worldview he or she believes in.
An illegal group cannot force itself upon the general public and bestow upon itself elevated rights and privileges. It cannot create one legal system for common Egyptians and another system for itself. Civic duty comes with rights, but also with duties. This is what the Egyptian people reminded their leaders every time they revolted. No one should put this to the test, especially at the time of a global pandemic.
– Karem Jabar
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.