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Candidates caught in chaotic election race

In the commentary of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat, Mohammed Salah said Egypt's political situation is 'very complex' ahead of the parliamentary election, although most indications favour a National Democratic Party (NDP) victory.

In the commentary of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat, Mohammed Salah said Egypt's political situation is "very complex" ahead of the parliamentary election, although most indications favour a National Democratic Party (NDP) victory.

All competing parties have problems selecting candidates. While the majority of parties including the opposition failed to nominate enough contestants for election, the ruling party received applications exceeding available seats. As a solution, NDP, in a precedent, presented more than one candidate in the same constituency.

This decision is probably meant to avoid a split among the party's ranks, but at the same time, competition weakens chances of an NDP win. It might also stir larger scale reactions among NDP affiliates than the sit-ins already staged by others protesting against exclusions from running. In retaliation, protesters threatened to elect candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The latter also endures an internal conflict among its candidates, as many of them have chosen to boycott the poll on the grounds that it is likely to be rigged. Candidates from Al Wafd and Arab Democratic Nasserist Party parties expressed similar attitudes. "On this account, it appears that parties in Egypt have waged a chaotic political battle, while election outcomes are almost known beforehand."


Nato's agreement will corner Iran

The agreement on the Europe-wide ballistic missile shield endorsed by Nato does not explicitly target Iran after Turkey expressed reservations in singling out Iran as a threat, wrote Tariq Alhomayed in the commentary of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

Turkey was conscious of its delicate position with neighbouring Iran and said it would refuse to sign a Nato document that names Iran as the threat.

Yet even though Turkey's request was agreed to, this does not mean Tehran is not the real target. The last minute modification on the convention draft is a pure formality in order to coopt Ankara into the project.

Turkey's attitude can also be interpreted from a different perspective. Aware of its special relations with Iran, Ankara cleverly negotiated with other Nato members the text of the convention, and succeeded in not jeopardising its relations with Iran. In doing so, it primed its national interests. Unlike their Iranian counterparts, the Turkish have emerged more tactful and proved they have a knack for good diplomacy.

The big loser left behind is Iran, as Nato together with Russia are on the way to implement the missile shield, which, of course, is meant to further corner Tehran.


Abbas leads in an era of impasse

"The president of the Palestinian Authority has probably never gone through more difficult times than now. This happened after the US linked the temporary freeze of settlements by Israel with a military grant to Tel Aviv," wrote Slaeh al Qallab in an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda.

Abbas has found himself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, he feels the immense pressure to reject US demands and conditions, but at the same time, morally he cannot accept the security plan, which is said to be concluded between the Americans and the Israelis in the light of the meeting of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

"If this is true, Abbas should rather forego the negotiations, whether direct or indirect… He should instead focus on the development of the West Bank in accordance to the promising plan drafted by his prime minister Salam Fayyad."

The agreement terms, which were leaked, stipulate the US will cease demanding Israel to freeze settlement activities if it commits to the three-month pause. This means these three months are likely to pass without achieving any breakthrough, which will open the doors for the occupation to act without check. Abbas, of course, will be left in the most unenviable situation of all.


Handouts don't help unemployed Emiratis

In an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan, Maysa Ghadeer said financial assistance given to unemployed Emiratis is laudable, but does little to address underlying employment problems.

Recently, the Zakat Fund announced that it spent about 12,460,000 dirhams in the last three quarters of this year on financial assistance to help jobless Emiratis, and also those with low incomes. The Fund said that the size of grants has increased throughout the year.

The initiative of the Fund and its keenness to support unemployed Emiratis is highly regarded, but this kind of solution is frustrating for two reasons. First, the number of beneficiaries has not exceeded 2,000, who could be better helped by providing them with jobs. Grants may encourage the unemployed to depend on the Fund's assistance and compete with others, who may be more deserving, and more in need.

Second, the unemployed may lose their zest for searching for employment opportunities. In this regard, we must draw attention to the fact that this approach to the problem contradicts the efforts done by the state to better its education services and empower Emiratis.



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