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Strengthening US ties to the Caribbean, a Middle East arms race, Saudis to battle, a unified Arab army, US military support needed in Afghanistan

A round-up of global commentary for the April 13, 2015 weekly magazine.

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    President Obama waves as he boards Air Force One to travel to Jamaica from Joint Base Andrews, Md., Wednesday. Mr. Obama is flying to Jamaica to meet with leaders of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community nations, before continuing on to Panama for the Summit of the Americas.
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Jamaica Observer / Kingston, Jamaica
Obama’s visit reasserts US ties to the Caribbean
“The highly anticipated visit of United States President Barack Obama to Jamaica [April 9] has raised the question as to why he chose this island...,” states an editorial. “America now sees a market for its energy in the Caribbean and, apart from any economic gains, it would strengthen US influence.... In geo-political terms, Mr. Obama is meeting the Caribbean for the first time since the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad [April 2009], and is conscious of the visits since then of the president of China and the prime minister of Japan. Finally, he is paving the way for a cordial reappearance of Cuba into the Inter-American system.”

The Jerusalem Post / Jerusalem
Beware of a Middle East nuclear arms race
“The US should ... provide the Saudis security guarantees in order to dissuade them from launching their own [nuclear] program,” writes Yoel Guzansky, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. “A likely consequence of a US-Iran deal is that Saudi Arabia will demand a similar agreement, so that it, too, will be a ‘screw-turn’ away from being a nuclear armed state. While reaching an agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue is the US administration’s most important priority in the Middle East, that achievement, paradoxically, would increase rather than lower the probability of a Middle-Eastern arms race. On the other hand, no deal would increase the likelihood of a war in the region, putting Saudi Arabia in the line of fire.”

Arab News / Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Saudis should be ready for battle
“The Saudi decision to intervene in Yemen has [sent] a strong message to Iran and all terrorist groups in the region: We are ready to exhaust all political options on the table, but when the time comes, we will never shy away from the battleground,” writes journalist Saad Dosari. “We are ready to ‘sweat’ in peace, and yet, not afraid to ‘bleed’ in war, paraphrasing [the late US Army Gen.] Norman Schwarzkopf’s quote. What we can only wish is that the message the Kingdom and its allies are sending to Iran and its puppets [is] well received so the time of war is shortened. The gang in Yemen should better realize that it is time to let go of stubbornness, as the country is deteriorating rapidly. And Iran should also realize that there is a difference between keeping silent out of weakness, and out of wisdom.”

The Telegraph / London
A call for a unified Arab army
“Arab leaders meeting in [Egypt] on [March 29] agreed to create a joint military force ostensibly to take on the Houthi Shia rebels currently causing mayhem in Yemen...,” states an editorial. “Arab identity has long been fragmented by nationalism, though held together loosely by the Arab League. Its reassertion now owes more to Iran flexing its muscles once more as a regional power than to the need to save Yemen from civil war or confront Islamic State.... For now, tackling [IS] and the Houthis in Yemen may be the immediate reason for the Arab military pact. But the spectre that is really haunting the region is Iran.”

Today’s Zaman / Istanbul, Turkey
A plea for continued US military support in Afghanistan
“[It] needs to be kept in mind that the number of [US] troops and their non-combatant role could pose a problem in terms of Afghanistan’s security and that an increase in the number of troops and a change in the mission from a non-combatant to a combatant role might be needed in the near future...,” writes Salih Doğan, a research fellow at the Turkey Institute. “It would not be surprising if the Taliban and other terrorist groups were to launch a massive attack in Afghanistan if NATO withdraws all its forces before a peace and reconciliation process is achieved between the Afghan government and the Taliban.... [In] order not to further worsen the security situation in Afghanistan, [President] Obama needs to revise the decisions on the withdrawal of troops and their mission, as [US Defense Secretary Ashton] Carter has already stressed.”

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