Afghans flocked to the polls last Saturday to vote for a new parliament amid unprecedented western media interest, a Taliban boycott and various talks about fraud and violence, said the pan-Arab Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial. Western media coverage focused primarily on beautiful half-veiled Afghan women to suggest a major development in liberties in the country, especially in women's rights and their participation in elections.
Such focus is carefully calculated and aims to influence western public opinion that opposes the war in Afghanistan. Western achievements in the country are minimal compared to the massive losses it has incurred. The war has cost US taxpayers more than $250 billion and more than 1,000 casualties. The Afghan people want democracy and good governance. The last elections formed a parliament of warlords and drug dealers that contributed to the spread of corruption in every level of government. Nothing currently indicates that the new parliament, expected to be revealed in a few months, would be any better. "We don't believe the last elections would change much in Afghanistan. Just as it happened in Iraq where a new parliament was elected and the people are still waiting for the cabinet to be formed."
Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations hadn't made one step forward when the "Syrian option" was raised to revive Israeli-Syrian negotiations, says Rajeh al Khouri in the Lebanese newspaper Annahar.
The US envoy George Mitchell is delusional if he believes that the Syrian path can be re-opened now. Damascus is still pursuing national and strategic requests based primarily on the principle of land in exchange for peace. Since the start of the Madrid Convention, Syria was quick to recognise Israel's attempts to conduct simultaneous negotiations in order to create a convenient atmosphere for its negotiations manoeuvres. For that reason, President Bashar Assad insists that only an equitable solution for the Palestinian issue would lead to negotiations with Syria.
Following Mr Mitchell's visit to Damascus, the presidential statement confirmed once again the country's commitment to peace. It said that Syria's preconditions for peace aren't concessions on the part of Israel but territories that must be returned to their rightful owners. The focus on new talks with Syria at this point only serves Israel's ability to extort Palestinians. Damascus is well aware of this fact and once again has proved that it would oppose any Israeli manipulative policies.
In its editorial, the Emirati daily Akhbar al Arab said five European foreign ministers are expected to visit the region to take a look at the situation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The suffering of Gazans truly calls for an international campaign. The European foreign ministers' visit could be beneficial in exposing the people's plight while Israeli authorities claim that Gaza is free of occupation.
In reality, Israel controls the entirety of the Strip, which it accuses of terrorism as long as it is governed by a body that the West brands as terrorist although it was legally and duly elected by the people. "European visitors must regard Gaza as a besieged area that is being punished for its democratic choices. They are called upon to admit that Gaza is part of occupied Palestine and must be united with its other part in the West Bank. "
In addition, Gaza must be included in a comprehensive peace process that encompasses all Palestinians all over the world. As for the settlement issue, it must be dealt with as a matter of continued aggression against the Palestinian people. Israel is attempting to persuade the EU of a situation that could never be legalised. An occupation is just that and rights don't fade away with time. Palestinians must regain all their rights. "These are the standards and this is justice."
The assassination of the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005 wasn't the first of its kind in Lebanon since it sank into the devastating war in 1975, but it was the first crime of its kind that convinced the Lebanese people that political assassinations could not be tolerated any longer, says Iyad bou Shakra for pan-Arab daily Al Sharq al Awsat. Hariri's murder wasn't necessarily more horrific than many other crimes, but by 2005, the international community was aware of the congested political situation. That is why tens of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets and demanded an end to the murders.
It was a popular intifada that embodied rejection of oppression. It was distinguished by two factors: it was trans-sectarian and it believed in the concept of a civic state as a substitute for the security state. The uprising led to two contradicting camps: those who call for and benefit from a civil state, March 14, and those who call for and benefit from a security state, March 8. Hizbollah publicly revealed on Saturday that their "grace period" for the state had ended and that circumstances are now more convenient for them to establish their own kind of state.
* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem @Email:email@example.com