Jamal Ahmad Khashikji, a regular columnist for Saudi Arabia's pro-government newspaper Al Watan, wrote that Saudis would not have considered intervening in Somalia to restore security there a few days ago. "But Somalia is part of our national security environment and 'failing countries' are an evil that infects all their neighbours," he wrote. "Terrorism, weapons and illegal immigration are all sources of regional concern and anxiety, but they could have been ignored up until this week, which witnessed the hijacking of a Saudi oil supertanker and a failed attack on another Saudi freighter." The Somali pirates are thus attacking Jeddah, the kingdom's capital of commerce, Khashikji wrote.
Western military intervention and an Ethiopian invasion failed to bring stability. "Why don't we try an Arab Islamic solution?" he asked."Why doesn't Saudi Arabia cooperate with Egypt and Yemen to form a military, political, cultural, and economic campaign directed at the Somalis and that speaks their language, which is similar to our own,and addresses their religion, which is the same as our own?"
Jordan's pro-government Ad Dustour daily ran a lead editorial saying that Prime Minister Nader al Dhahabi's visit to "brotherly Syria" sets a new stage in relations and helps enhance and develop them on the economic and trade levels. "Moreover, the importance of this visit resides in the activation of commerce between the two countries in light of the presence of representatives from the private economic sector in the visiting delegation," the paper said. Public sector institutions in both countries must facilitate trade and obstacles such as customs must be removed. "Jordanian diplomacy, which is being led by His Majesty the King, has been and still is concerned about enhancing and developing bilateral relations with all the brotherly Arab countries," Ad Dustour wrote. "This corroborates Jordan's rejection of the axis policy and its belief in the need to abstain from interfering in the domestic affairs of any Arab state and to respect these states' privacy." Jordan also calls for the building of a collective Arab position to face the global economic crisis, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli talks.
"On the day of the death of a tyrant in East Asia, I saw with my own two eyes the tears glistening on the face of a maid that hailed from the country the tyrant used to rule," wrote Ahmad Amiri, a regular columnist for the UAE's independent newspaper Al Ittihad. "When I asked the maid about her tears, she said, crying, that they loved the dictator because he had a good heart!"
The same happened with a worker in an Arab restaurant, who said that the president of his controversial country is excellent and has a good heart. "But I knew for a fact that the president was not excellent and has no heart at all because the country, which he has ruled for decades, hasn't advanced at all and is going from one disaster to another,"Amiri wrote. "Simple people cannot do much, but they can at least refuse to sympathise with rulers that didn't do them any good or with presidents that were known to be corrupt even before they became presidents."
Jordan's pro-government daily Al Ghad ran an article by Jihad al Mihaysen saying that the main reason behind the crisis in the region is the Arab-Israeli conflict, the primary and most dangerous source for instability in the Middle East. "But the electoral campaign that preceded the election of Barak Obama reveals that his administration will consider the Arab-Israeli struggle as a low priority. Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan are top priorities," he wrote.
The domestic situation in the United States will be more pressing, with the new president seeking ways to revitalise the national economy. "Hence, foreign policy will be the least priority for the new administration, and it will take Obama a long time to find a way amid these complicated conflicts in the Middle East, which are the legacies of President Bush and whose solutions have become hard to find." Obama's administration will adopt a new language of dialogue and openness that will be welcome in the Middle East, al Mihaysen wrote. "But the echoes of Obama's desire for change do not target the Arab and Islamic world directly."
* Digest compiled from www.mideastwire.com