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Jeddah's rain exposed Saudi's cracks

"Over the last 30 years, no mayor has managed to solve the most disastrous problem that faces Jeddah: flooding," noted Saad bin Abdel Qader al Quwai in a comment piece for the Saudi newspaper Al Jazeera.

"Over the last 30 years, no mayor has managed to solve the most disastrous problem that faces Jeddah: flooding," noted Saad bin Abdel Qader al Quwai in a comment piece for the Saudi newspaper Al Jazeera. Besides being a humanitarian tragedy, the Jeddah floods have laid bare the bitter truth that the city has always set on frail infrastructure and had poor urban planning.

Nine hours of rainfall were enough to uncover the truth and drowns the city in a sad scene, bringing life to a standstill. "I still remember a statement by the general supervisor of water directorate in Mecca published in the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat five years ago, in which he warned against a deteriorating sewage system in the city, and he pinpointed to the need of handling the slums issue differently. That prompted the allocation of a budget worth SR 7 billion (Dh6.8549 bn) to overhaul the basic infrastructure. Yet no project has been implemented. "We are wondering now about the destiny of those sums of money, and why all promises to improve the situation of the city remains a dead letter? Jeddah is left, as a result, without a comprehensive sewage or a drainage system. "Now the disaster has happened ... it is high time to revive the national strategy to protect the integrity and combat corruption, and to make accountability a common practice."

"Even though it renewed its commitment to reconciliation, Hamas denied any new arrangements that would lead to the signing of a Palestinian reconciliation," wrote Hassan Younes in a comment piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

The movement's statement came after press reports on Arab and Palestinian efforts in an attempt to resume the talks in Cairo after the Eid Al Adha holidays. It is less likely therefore to be any overtures in this direction before a new agreement on exchanging prisoners takes place, which might lead to the release, among hundreds of detainees, of Marwan Barghouti, secretary general of Fatah in the West Bank.

Both Hamas and Fatah know that freeing Mr Barghouti may reshuffle the deck, and possibly would eliminate any chance of re-election of Mahmoud Abbas. Mr Barghouti's comeback, if it occurs, may lead also to big changes that would affect many influential figures in the Palestinian political scene. "This is why Hamas seems to be less in rush to achieve any progress in terms of reconciliation. It may follow that some younger politicians that are capable of translating the people's aspirations may accede leader positions, and thus creating new reality, which, in turn, will determine the kind of relations between various Palestinian political players."

In a 30-page speech, Mr Nasrallah outlined the political guidelines of his party, leaving the audience with a feeling that the party has a vision that goes beyond resistance," remarked Abdul Rahman al Rashed in an opinion piece for the London-based daily Al Sharq Al Awsat. "It portrayed the party as having an action plan of how to govern Lebanon and almost rule the world. In 10 pages, Mr Nasrallah made the US accountable for their actions and policies across the world since the Second World War."

The rest of his message was on his vision of Lebanon's politics and governance. He has every right to do so because he is one of the 10 most omnipresent political figures in his country and his party is different from others because it outstrips them militarily. Hizbollah opposed the cancellation of a quota voting system, although theoretically it will benefit more if it is replaced by rule majority of votes. Yet this can be true only if the party duly satisfies its public. But this situation may change if, for instance, the Shiite community is given freedom of choice. "In this case it will rather be interested in those who will provide them with necessary services more than in rockets to be launched at Israelis. Then and only then: "Hizbollah can know that Shiite voters will take an opposing stance against their representatives in subsequent elections if they fail in meeting their electoral promises."

The suicide bombing incident that caused the death of three ministers in Somalia reveals the extent of security deterioration in a forgotten country, noted the UAE newspaper Akhbar Al Arab in its editorial. "Terrorists have excelled in their killings and in their ways of spreading terror. Somalia has become known worldwide because of their notorious terrorists who murdered innocent civilians, and of their pirates who have brought Somalia into the spotlight."

The war in Somalia is fought in far-flung parts of the country and in the streets of Mogadishu as well. "And because the war has become a normal business in the country, children also carry arms. They enter the war to take part in such a bloody game that goes beyond all thriller and horror movies. The result is that no one aspires for a future to live for, and no one knows when and how will the war will end."

Many factors have contributed to the present misfortune, but there is no excuse for leaving this country alone with its never-ending conflicts. Somalia needs an Arab and African military intervention to restore order and to help setting up a democratic government. * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi MElmouloudi@thenational.ae

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