"The German magazine Der Spiegel's recent investigation affirming that the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al Hariri was planned and carried out by Hizbollah was hardly surprising," wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed, a regular columnist at the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat. When the charge of al Hariri's assassination was pressed against Hizbollah two years ago, perhaps only a few endorsed it. Now, with the new Der Spiegel report, only a few are still incredulous.
"Now, many believe that the strength and influence of Hizbollah at home, added to its allegiances abroad, make it quite an obvious suspect. But Hizbollah is not concerned about its reputation, for it is not in a beauty contest. It relies first and foremost on its military might, which exceeds that of the Lebanese army." Hizbollah couldn't care less if the international community held it responsible for killing al Hariri, or if the Egyptian people were angry following the arrest of a Hizbollah-affiliated terrorist cell on Egyptian territories, or if the Lebanese people themselves were ashamed of it. They can all go to hell for all Hizbollah cares."
The fact that Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah's chief, dared to commemorate May 7 - when Hizbollah militias attacked western Beirut and killed Sunni residents - only attests to this.
A lot of ink has flowed in anticipation of the US president Barack Obama's forthcoming address to the Arab and Muslim world from Cairo on June 4, and in all that has been written, the underlying assumption that Obama's two-state plan is brand new and exciting was most disconcerting, commented Ilyas Sahhab in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej. "The two-state solution has been on Washington's agenda as early as Bill Clinton's second term, and it kept emerging under George W Bush. Actually, the latter kicked off his first term by proposing a political scheme entailing the full establishment of the Palestinian state by 2009." So, speculations about the substance and outcome of Obama's speech ought to be cushioned by an understanding of the causes that doomed previous US plans to continual failure.
"This solution has always been a big, fat carrot tantalising a gullible Arab horse," Sahhab wrote.
Obama simply has a new outline of an old solution. "First, set the end of Obama's first term as a deadline. Second, the Arabs will have to pay upfront for yet-to-be-honoured promises, by fully normalising relations with Israel. Third, the new Palestinian state will not be entitled to acquire weapons."
Obama's proposals may thus merely come down to granting Palestinians some sort of autonomy.
For twenty years on May 25, Jordan's Independence Day, political parties and opposition leaders in Jordan have been sounding alarms that the country may not be enjoying its independence next year, wrote Bater Wardem in the opinion section of the Jordanian daily Addustour.
"This year, they are warning against two imminent dangers, one embodied by the new Israeli government, the other by the issue of the alternative state solution - Israel's old pitch that Jordan become an alternative state for the Palestinians." Of course, Jordan must carefully contend with the new hardline cabinet in Israel, but they cannot have any influence on the alternative state issue, and that is for three main reasons.
"First, because Jordanian diplomacy is seasoned enough to neutralise Israeli insolence. Second, the Jordanian government is founded on robust institutions which, bolstered as they are by popular support, are capable of warding off such dangers. Third, the Palestinian people themselves have renewed, time and again, their categorical refusal to relinquish their right to their land and, despite Israeli pressures, still reject the alternative state solution."
Real issues that Jordanian politicians had better tackle are dwindling national identity, law breaking, class discrepancies, interest politics and water resources.
After parliamentary elections resulted in the victory of four women and the defeat of religious parties, debates are still ongoing in Kuwait over whether the results came through socio-political forces or rather reflected a spontaneous popular reaction to the questionable ways of the old MPs and cabinet, wrote Shamlan al Issi, a columnist at the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan. "What happened in Kuwait was not the fruit of a reformation strategy. Change in Kuwait, and other Gulf nations, is still rather slow and unsteady, especially in politics. Whatever changes are happening here and there are prompted by foreign pressures, not responses to local socio-political urgencies." The change brought about by the new elections in Kuwait still leaves a lot to be desired. Consider the tribal by-elections which, though legally banned, have still taken place and re-elect the same crisis-happy MPs responsible for widening the rift between the government and parliament. How would you expect radical change in a country where some parties politicise religion and condemn democracy?
"The 70 per cent of our Kuwaiti population which is under 21 may be the answer," he concluded. * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi firstname.lastname@example.org