A handout picture released by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry's press office on February 25, 2017 shows Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (R) meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in the capital Baghdad. Al-Jubeir held talks in Baghdad with Iraq's leadership, the first such visit by a chief diplomat from the kingdom since 2003. - === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTRY PRESS OFFICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === / AFP / IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTRY / STRINGER / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTRY PRESS OFFICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === Image Credit: AFP

The London-based Pan-Arab paper Asharq Al Awsat said that Al Jubeir’s visit to Baghdad was surprising after a quarter of a century of abandonment. “This is a very crucial initiative given the circumstances that indeed requires a reform of the two countries relations — since there aren’t any major disagreements that would make it stoop to this level. Relations worsened between the two countries during the presidency of former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki. When he was replaced by Haidar Al Abadi, Saudi Arabia welcomed him but Abadi’s rivals, including Maliki and Iran, were able to undermine his government. Abadi did not succeed in developing foreign relations despite return of ambassadors’ exchange. FM Jubeir’s visit to Baghdad is an important diplomatic step at a time when the whole region needs more cooperation to decrease tension, chaos, terrorism and possibly wars on different fronts,” the newspaper said.

With regard to the recent terrorist attack in Bahrain, the UAE’s Al Bayan said that the UAE reaffirming its stand with Bahrain in combatting terrorism, emphasises the truth and depth of its vision on the importance of unity in facing terrorism and those who support it. “It is time for the world to take a different stand towards terrorism, which is growing in intensity in different places. Terrorism, in addition to spilling the blood of innocents, aims to threaten the stability of countries. The security of the Arabian Gulf is unified, because its countries share the same stance when it comes to their issues. The UAE will remain a role model for its deep vision and the passing days have only proven the nation’s strength and mettle. Expressing its solidarity with Bahrain in the wake of the recent terrorist attack, the UAE is well aware that Bahrain will remain steadfast against any attempt that threatens its security or stability.”

Elsewhere, the Saudi Gazette notes that there was a mockery and a miscarriage of justice in Israel. “The Israeli soldier who killed a Palestinian assailant was supposed to have been charged with first-degree murder because the attacker was injured and incapacitated. Instead, the charge became manslaughter. It was a cold-blooded murder, a state-sanctioned execution. Even the three-member court said Sergeant Elor Azaria had ‘taken upon himself to be both judge and executioner’ and had not expressed regret for his crime. The court decided the soldier should only really get 18 months. And for good measure, the soldier will be allowed to appeal so that even this ridiculous one-and-a-half year sentence could be reduced even further. If a Palestinian throws a stone, he gets a two-year sentence.”

News reports from Washington suggest that the US is considering pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Council because, it alleges, it is biased against Israel, wrote the Jordan Times. “While US President Donald Trump mulls whether to stay in or leave the council, he might wish to ask why Israel has been repeatedly condemned by the world body. The obvious answer is Israel’s repeated violations of international humanitarian law and defiance of UN resolutions pertaining to it, including those adopted by the council. Pulling out of the council would deprive it of the US voice on many critical human rights issues.”