"The democratic experience witnessed by the UAE in the last elections of the Federal National Council must be supported and more people must be allowed to participate," wrote Muhammad al Hamadi, a regular columnist for the UAE's independent newspaper Al Ittihad. If the parliament's mandate is extended for two new years, which seems likely, its members must listen to the citizens about their needs, and not simply address whatever lands on their desks, he wrote.
"On the official level, the council needs to be given more power and a wider remit so that it can fulfill its legislative role. Our parliament today is still deficient because it does not have the right to issue real laws and this is hampering its workings," al Hamadi said. "Doubling the number of council members to 80 members would allow women to have a real presence, he added. "It is important that the coming elections include more citizens, or even all of them, and give them the right to both run as candidates and to vote, so that they participate in the democratic process."
Jordan's independent newspaper Al Arab al Yawm ran an ironic article by Jawad al Bashiti saying the opinions of the Iraqi people should not necessarily be polled concerning the security agreement with the United States, which is about to be ratified. "Attention is focused now on the Iraqi parliament, though the result has become known even before it convenes to ratify the draft and practise its constitutional right in approving or rejecting it," he wrote.
"Why should we repudiate an agreement, the articles and items of which would justify calling it 'the agreement that completely ends the military presence of the United States in Iraq on December, 31, 2011'." Further room for optimism is given by President-elect Obama's promise of change when he takes the keys of the White House, al-Bashiti wrote. "Didn't Obama say he has a plan, upon which he will withdraw one or two brigades every month from Iraq, and so after 16 months, only a small force will remain and in the middle of 2010, all fighting forces will have left Iraq?"
Syria's state-controlled Teshreen daily ran an opinion piece by Editing Director Issam Dari reporting the British Foreign Minister David Miliband as saying "Syria enjoys a major role at the level of enhancing stability in the Middle East". The statement echoed those of other European and even American officials who visited "the capital of love, peace, tolerance and coexistence", he wrote."For the past eight years, enemies pressured Syria with false accusations based on lies, threats and unfair sanctions, and then attempts to isolate it, blockade it or militarily attack it, whether the attacks were carried out by Israel or the American army occupying Iraq." The attempts failed because Syria's positions are based on "what is right and just", Dari wrote.
"We hope that the European officials - who are our neighbours and who know the facts better than those running the wars from across the oceans - will respect their convictions and those of their people who expressed, in recent polls, their belief that Israel was a factor threatening security and stability not only in the Middle East but also on the European continent."
Hussam Ittani, a regular columnist for Lebanon's independent leftist newspaper As Safir wrote that it is remarkable that one of the busiest sea lanes in the world passes right though a hotbed of piracy near the shores of Somalia. "The recent attack on a Saudi oil supertanker, which was laden with two million barrels of oil, added a new dimension to the piracy issue," he wrote. This issue now involves the world, risks worsening the economic crisis and raises fears of an environmental disaster.
"The irony here is that Somalia managed to re-attract western attention through the piracy issue," Ittani wrote. "While this country doesn't present any motive for any country to occupy it because of its lack of natural resources and the complexity of its tribal and political structure, the pirates, unintentionally of course, seem to have presented the motive for returning the Somali issue to the forefront of international attention."
The pirates have played, for the thousandth time, the role of David versus Goliath "who proved, also for the thousandth time, that he needs a bit more brain and a bit less brawn". * Digest compiled by mideastwire.com