Iraq's regime is based on sheer sectarianism
"The current Iraqi regime has proven that it is worst than Saddam Hussein's, and more menacing at that," commented Tariq al Homayed, the editor of the pan-Arab Asharq al Awsat newspaper.
"Everyone agreed once that Saddam's regime was a dictatorship. The problem now is that the current regime in Iraq is portrayed as a democracy when in fact it is a system built on an abominable form of sectarianism."
What has been going on in Syria, and in Bahrain before it, has shown that the current Iraqi regime is more concerned with establishing a sectarian regime in which Shiites rule than with democracy, the editor said. "This is just a statement of fact, not an attempt to exacerbate sectarian sentiments."
Take recent comments by senior Iraqi politicians, representing ruling parties in the country, about the ongoing unrest in Syria. "Instead of being concerned with what is befalling unarmed citizens and the need for democracy in Syria, all they're worried about is 'Salafis' taking power in Damascus - meaning the Sunnis, of course.
"They feel that a Syria ruled by Sunnis is a threat to them; they go as far as deny the legitimacy of the Syrian protestors' demands and take the side of Syria's Baathists," the editor added. "If this is the attitude of the new Iraq, well, what is going to become of the Sunnis there?"
In need of more Emirati journalists
The rate of Emiratisation in the UAE media institutions has been remarkably higher than it is today; that's at least how the first-generation Emirati journalists who worked in the field in the 1980s and 1990s feel about it, according to Ahmed al Mansouri, an Emirati columnist with the Abu Dhabi-based Al Ittihad newspaper.
Many Emirati journalists, some with great expertise, have "migrated" in recent years to government authorities to take charge of public relations departments. They were offered handsome packages and a far more manageable workload.
"To compound this problem, Emirati students are very reluctant to enroll in journalism in the UAE universities' communication and mass media schools."
"Most Emirati media students go for PR and audiovisual media instead; in fact, some journalism programmes are exclusively attended by female students."
Part of the problem is that print journalists' salaries aren't that attractive, and options for graduates aren't as diverse as one would hope. But at the heart of the issue lies the decision-making of some local media organisations over the past 10 years, which failed to prioritise Emiratisation, preferring to concentrate on competitiveness and profitability". Thus, Arab journalists who have been practicing for years were given preference.This must change, and Emiratis must be given incentives to renew their interest in journalism.
Damascene wind of change hits Assad
Last February, as the colossal wave of change gained ground across the Arab world, the Wall Street Journal interviewed the Syrian president Bashar al Assad to get his view of events.
In his daily article for the pan-Arab Al Hayat daily, the columnist Daoud al Sharyan quoted Mr al Assad's answer when he was asked on change reaching Syria: "If you want to compare between what is happening in Egypt and Syria, you have to look from a different point," he said. "It is not only about the needs and not only about the reform. It is about the ideology, the beliefs and the cause that you have. There is a difference between having a cause and having a vacuum."
Three months have passed between that interview and the bloody events shaking Syria now. "Were the reports given to Syria's president so misleading that he couldn't conceive of the possibility of such events unfolding in Syria?" asked the writer. "Or is it a total disregard of the people's needs?"
It is incredible that Damascus's leadership is persuaded that slogans of "the cause versus the vacuum" can justify violations, oppression and the absence of individual freedom and social development.
The change train has definitely been set in motion in Syria. It is unfortunate that the Damascus regime, despite observing the experience elsewhere, has not learnt from the mistakes of other regimes.
Egypt's new era of pan-arabism in GCC
The Egyptian prime minister Issam Sharaf has embarked on a diplomatic tour of the Gulf region starting in Saudi Arabia. The first item on his agenda is the possibilities of attracting investment to help put his country's failing economy back on its feet, said the editorial of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi daily.
The Egyptian economy needs a whooping $12 billion to plug its deficit and revive its financial markets. That would recover the important confidence factor that was lost as a number of big businessmen under the former regime were imprisoned on charges of corruption.
The four Gulf states on Mr Sharaf's itinerary were supporters of the former regime against Iranian ambitions in the Gulf.
But Cairo's new regime has opened dialogue channels with Tehran, heralding a change in Egyptian-Iranian affairs. "It is clear that the new Egyptian formula doesn't necessarily adopt Gulf perspectives on the Iranian threat. It rather looks forward to a normal relationship with Iran, although Mr Sharaf confirmed that it won't take place at a cost to Gulf states."
The outcomes of this tour will determine the Egyptian regime's Arab identity and the nature of its future with the major players on the international scene.
* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem