A Saudi minister flirts with a relationship with Israel, while Qatar hunkers down for a long siege
Saudis whisper sweet nothings
The controversy over the possible establishment by Saudi Arabia of direct and public relations with Israel has been raised once again after a tweet by a Saudi minister, Thamer al-Sabhan, which many interpreted as a prelude to the normalisation of relations with Israel.
The Gulf affairs minister said: "In the past, we were complaining about Israel's hostility, and now our brothers have become more hostile and belligerent towards us than Israel, massacres, displacement, attacks, biased media and provoking disorder."
The Noon Post Arabic website said: "The evidence and clues indicate that Saudi Arabia under Mohammad bin Salman will be completely different to what it was before, especially with regards to the issue of rapprochement with Israel and taking quick steps towards activating 'full normalisation' of relations."
This prelude to establishing relations with Israel comes as part of moves to implement the so-called "deal of the century," put forward by the US president, Donald Trump, to redraw the political map in the Middle East.
"It is a deal that aims to stabilise Israel by increasing normalisation of its relations with neighbouring Arab countries and paving the way for a greater regional presence,” according to Noon Post.
Battle of Mosul: It's not over
The London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper has quoted a military source as saying that the military operations in the old districts of Mosul are still under way. In addition, Iraqi forces have not reached many areas of the city because of the strong resistance they face from Islamic State (IS) combatants.
The newspaper confirmed that there is a large number of female suicide bombers who attack Iraqi forces. The newspaper also said that the destruction of the old districts of the city had increased the battle’s complexity, since IS use these areas as lairs and havens that military forces find it difficult to move in to.
According to the newspaper, the military source pointed out that there are many IS combatants hiding inside houses who have not yet been found because Iraqi forces are unable to inspect the houses.
A new Islamic State?
The spread of IS in Iraq and Syria and its control over territory that it claims as its "state" took less than two months all in all. Meanwhile, reaching the point of beginning to defeat the group has taken more than three years.
This reveals fears of re-expansion and the emergence of a new version of IS in the region after the battle of Mosul, according to an article by the writer Abdul Wahhab Badrakhan in the Qatari al-Arab newspaper.
The writer states that General Stephen Townsend, the US commander in the battle, urges the Iraqi government to "talk to Sunni Iraqis" in order to stem the threat of the emergence of a new version of IS.
It ignores the fact that the government in Baghdad has not helped any of those displaced from the liberated cities to return to their homes and has not implemented plans to provide the necessary services to enable them to resume normal life, according to the writer.
Qatar food bunkers
Qatar has launched a new project to hoard huge warehouses of food to fight the Saudi-led blockade, Qatari authorities revealed according to Arabi21 website.
Qatari News Agency (QNA) said the project will cost in total about $500m, and the stores will occupy more than 530,000 square metres.
This huge venture comes after the blockade which has been imposed on Qatar by four countries including Saudi Arabia and UAE.