Apart from being an age-old conflict between people of Arab and African origins, or between shepherds and farmers, the Darfur issue is above all a conflict over power and wealth, wrote Hazem Mubaidheen in an opinion piece in the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai. Darfur has also become the site of a soft conflict that draws Washington to divide Sudan and consequently control its mineral wealth. The process is an attempt to prevent China and other African countries from having the upper hand in the region.
The conflict had been originally inflamed by the disparity of economic development across Sudan inherited from colonial rule and extended by successive governments. This situation promoted local tribes to revolt; their claim found support in neighbouring sympathetic tribes and countries. Elsewhere, previous peace accords between the central government and Darfur movements opened the door for other tribes to demand political equality, at first peacefully, and later violently. At this juncture, western and Asian interests began to eye high quality oil and uranium reserves. Aware of the rising overseas influence, and in order to preserve its intertwined interests with both neighbouring Darfur and the Sudanese government, Chad has become actively engaged recently in reconciliatory diplomacy with the aim to end the conflict and ensure a continuing role in the region.
Energy experts agree that oil and gas will remain the mainstay fuel because demand will continue to rise to meet the requirements of a growing economies and populations, wrote Randa Taqi al Dine in the London-based daily Al Hayat. Major world oil companies affirmed that alternative sources of energy, which are being developed, cannot replace fossil fuels because there continues to be a need for all sources of energy.
Failure to replace fossil energy is best seen in unmet promises by US presidents, who always pledge to develop more renewable sources in order to lessen their dependence on Middle East oil. This week both Total and BP announced that oil production would reach its height in 2030, and that 60 per cent of the world's energy needs during the next four decades will be provided through fossil resources. Alternative energy will be complementary, they added.
The Saudi-American company Aramco said that world oil production will increase at a rate of 1 million barrels per day until 2030. With this pace, the reserve capacities will go down, and this in turn will affect prices. The trend will be towards more stability, with prices oscillating generally between $60 to $70 per barrel. And even if prices go higher, that will help strengthen the strategic importance of oil and encourage operators to exploit fields which were hitherto considered too costly.
"European governments are witnessing a rising awakening in regard to human rights abuses in the so-called new Iraq and the flagrant deviation from democratic practices there," noted the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial. This week, Britain, France and Italy urged the Iraqi authorities to abolish the death penalty, expressing their concern about the increasing number of executions which have taken place during the last two years. Last year alone, 79 convicts were executed, while about 1,000 received the same sentence in the last five years.
The European calls are not genuine, however. The Europeans, and particularly Britain, did not oppose this penalty when it was used to eliminate symbols of the former regime, including Saddam Hussein. And it is absurd that the Europeans now claim that the death sentence is inhumane and being abused. The Iraqi human rights minister opposed the European demands during a meeting of the UN human rights council. She argued that Iraq still needs strict application of this sentence because of the exceptional situation Iraq is enduring at the moment. Regardless of arguments given by each party, this debate shows the hypocrisy of all and implies inhumane treatment of Iraqi people. It is also a manifestation of a deep sectarian attitude that still governs the relations between the constituents of Iraqi society.
"We cannot cherish the comments and the reactions of the two major Palestinian political factions, Fatah and Hamas, over the disclosure of new facts related to the assassination of the Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai," observed Subhi Zuaytar in a comment article featured in the Saudi daily Al Watan.
In Gaza, voices rose accusing Fatah that the two Palestinian accomplices in the assassination who were handed over by Jordan to Dubai belonged to the security apparatus of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. For its part, Fatah said the two accomplices were tied to Hamas and challenged the Islamic movement if it could reveal their names. "We wish we could have witnessed that the two parties were able to find the Mossad hit-squad that planned or carried out the assassination." Instead, Hamas and Fatah were caught in a fussy new clash.
"Once again, we are in a lamentable situation where the Palestinian brothers are promoting the same adverse kind of discourse." Regardless of the affiliation of the two Palestinian agents, they both are traitors and should be judged for their own individual acts. * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi email@example.com