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Judiciary should act on press freedom

"That a crowd led by people close to the royal family stormed the offices of the privately-owned Kuwaiti television station this week, attacked its workers and smashed studio equipment was a precedent that might drag the country into a state of chaos if not addressed legally," noted the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial.

"That a crowd led by people close to the royal family stormed the offices of the privately-owned Kuwaiti television station this week, attacked its workers and smashed studio equipment was a precedent that might drag the country into a state of chaos if not addressed legally," noted the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial.

Scope TV may have violated the law, but the judiciary system is the only power that is eligible to handle this matter. The Kuwaiti media has always enjoyed considerable press freedoms, and the judiciary authorities have always been the sole reference to arbitrate disputes related to freedom of expression.

Storming Scope TV by officials close to the ruling family is an offence which would cause the Kuwaiti democratic experience to face an immense challenge. "The incident will also put into question state ideals such as the supremacy of law and the separation of powers."

It is possible to tolerate the reactions of some radicals if they breach the law in light of tribal considerations. "But it is not acceptable that such reactions come form people close to the ruling family. This a double crime that is hard to understand."

The decision of the court to issue an arrest warrant to two prominent ruling family members is a good step that is likely to restore the judiciary's role and prestige.

 

Opposition in Egypt loses its structure

"While the ruling National Party (NP) in Egypt is busy choosing its candidates for parliamentary elections due next month, the opposition forces are involved in a inner battle to clear their accounts," wrote Mohammed Salah in an opinion piece for the London-based daily Al Hayat.

It seems that the NP does not need to grapple with  the opposition since these forces lead "self-destructive confrontations". They have quite often written about their problems, but they have never been able to solve  them. Moreover, they have never reached common ground on how to counter the NP.

The opposition also suffers from a lack of democratic practices, making it harder for it to understand the needs of the Egyptian street. This is seen in the failure of the alliance between a number of political forces representing different opposition forces to agree on clear and practical principles.  

The bone of contention that broke their coalition is whether to participate or to boycott the elections. At this, major parties decided to take part in the poll, believing that their absence is likely to give the NP a winning start. They argue that their absence from the political scene will not help addressing such pressing issues as potential vote rigging and other malpractices.

 

New role swapping in the Middle East

The Middle East is about to witness one of history's funniest and most dangerous sights: a total swapping of roles between its main regional and international powers, wrote the columnist Saad Mehio in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

Now that the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced the "people's resistance front" in Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, it is expected that the other US-led axis cannot be expected to stand motionless while it sees its adversary making breakthroughs. This US-led axis, which includes a few Arab states as well as Israel, holds many cards that enable it to shake the "resistance front" from within. Turkey, for instance, is a democratic country. Its main objective is to expand its regional power and secure a membership in the EU. It has no interest in wiping Israel off the map or in expelling the US from the Middle East.

The same applies to Syria, whose only objective is to enhance its leverage with the US. As for Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine, their various sectarian and ethnic divisions provide the American axis with many golden opportunities for obstruction.

The "resistance front" may not be as coherent and ideologically unified as Mr Ahmadinejad wishes to portray it. These countries' demands may be common but this doesn't mean that the other side would accept the new facts without a fight.

 

Al Maliki has received a boost from Iran

Nouri al Maliki has almost ensured his election as the new Iraqi prime minister as part of a deal that would serve the interests of Iran and at the same time help Iraq avoid direct western influence, argued Mazen Hammad in a comment piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

The deal was concluded following great pressure that Tehran had exerted upon the Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al Sadr, who is currently studying jurisprudence sciences in Qum, Iran. From there, he declared his support to Mr al Maliki, which is likely to put Mr al Maliki ahead of the pack.

The decision could also help Iran to act as a buffer to the US and its interests in Iraq, although Washington lately appears more willing to change the nature of its relations with Baghdad from purely military to civil ones.

Right after the US withdrew combat brigades from Iraq last August, the Iranian authorities asked Mr al Sadr to review his attitude towards Mr al Maliki.

Later, Iran convinced the Syrian president Bashar al Assad to change his position concerning the nomination of al Maliki as head of the new government.

If the Sadrists receive a greater share in governance in return, that would satisfy the Iranians. But it would create a new situation: Iraq would largely fall under the increasing influence of Iran.

 

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi

melmouloudi@thenational.ae

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