To succeed in a comprehensive dialogue, Fatah and Hamas should abandon the debate over quotas and power-sharing. "Such practice is destructive and will hinder the building of Palestinian institutions and civil society," wrote Ahmed Khalil in the Qatari daily Al Watan. All Palestinians are aware that none of the existing authorities in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are capable of recovering their usurped rights. There is no national framework that represents all Palestinians. The authorities in Gaza and the West Bank may represent the electorate under occupation; but who represents Palestinians living abroad? The only national framework that Palestinians unanimously agreed represents them wherever they are is the PLO, as it was formed and not as it came to be after the Oslo Accords and these futile negotiations.
Khalil stated that bilateral negotiations which deny agreements reached through comprehensive national dialogue, should cease, and all parties should work with the benefit of all Palestinians in mind. Where prior agreements are not respected, no institutions can be built. Their bargaining over control of the Palestinian cause becomes a waste of time and effort.
Bassem Mohamed Habib wrote in the Iraqi daily Al Sabah that it is too early to assess the security situation in the country after the withdrawal of US combat troops from urban areas. But he added that there is room to assess the firmness of the current stability, without forgetting that perceptions can be deceptive. His assessment was that the current stability was manufactured by insurgents to lure the Iraqi military in to exaggerated sense optimism, before surprising them with deadly attacks.
In a complex situation like Iraq, one should not give in to impulsiveness at the expense of reason and logic. While Habib admits that the withdrawal was a significant step towards Iraqi sovereignty, the outcome may be dangerous for everybody. A deterioration in the security situation could compel Iraq to ask for more American troops. Sovereignty is worthless without security, which can only be achieved through capable forces. Despite their statements, the "mujahideen" may wish for US troops to stay to justify their mottos about combating the infidels. He concluded by saying one must be careful when dealing with these issues. Not all those who fought the Americans are nationalists, and not all those who welcomed the democratic process believe in democracy.
The removal of the former president Mouawiya Ould Taya by the two Mauritanian generals Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and Ali Ould Mohamed Fal was welcomed by the opposition. But now they are opponents in the presidential elections, wrote Mohammed Lashhab in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat. Lashhab claimed that, from the beginning, it was clear that the source of the two men's popularity manner in which they conducted themselves following the coup. While Gen Ould Fal gave the keys to the presidential palace back to civilians, Gen Ould Abdel Aziz asserted that the military's role in government was vital.
Lashhab argued that the former does not consider himself a part of the latter's coup. Gen Ould Fal believes is merely helping to get the country of this situation, while Gen Ould Abdel Aziz is keen not to stand alone in the face of opposition and believes that the military must be closer to each other than to civilians. The difference is accentuated by the fact that the military can no longer seize legitimacy by force, neither domestically, regionally or internationally. What is now important in these elections is not the manner they are conducted, but that the loser accept the will of the people. It does not matter who wins, but rather that the lost trust in the democratic process be regained.
The visit by Bernard Kouchner to Damascus was the culmination of a one-year process of normalisation between France and Syria, marked by the Syrian President Bashar al Assad's attendance of the Mediterranean Union Summit, said Bashir al Bakr in an article for the UAE daily Al Khaleej.
The French foreign minister clearly stated that his visit was a gamble on the benefits of opening up to Syria, after years of Bush Administration attempts to isolate it, with Chirac's approval. Al Bakr argued that Sarkozy's initiative to normalise relations with Syria is clever; it will contribute to tackling regional security issues, given Syria's influential role. He added that France is proud of its achievements in the Lebanon with the Doha Agreement, which lead to presidential and legislative elections and the renewal of ties between Syria and Lebanon.
France is also hoping for Syria's help in dealing with the Iranian nuclear programme. But al Bakr wondered whether Syria is ready for such a move, and if so, for what price? The writer said there is no way to tell; but it seems that other international efforts will focus on dialogue with Syria, as indicated by the announced visit to Syria by the US president. * Digest compiled by Hassan Aboudi and Mostapha el Mouloudi