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Arab League's indecision leaves it in a bind

A daily roundup of the region's Arabic press.

In his article for the pan-Arab Al Hayat daily, the columnist Daoud al Sharyan commented on recent statements of the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, on the events in Libya.

In an interview with Al Hayat, Mr Moussa said he didn't go back on his position regarding events in Libya. But his uncertainty was obvious when he said: "We were told that there are military targets that should be hit to prevent further attacks on civilians. I insist that civilians must be spared at all times." It seemed as if Mr Moussa feels guilty.

"No one could guarantee the extent or the type of the western alliance's intervention", Mr al Sharyan observed. "What is happening in Libya at the moment is a fully-fledged war."

Arabs were enthusiastic about a no fly zone-based resolution that would paralyse Col Qaddafi's forces. But the target changed with the first bullet fired and the Arab League remembered too late that the resolution wasn't clear in the ceasefire issue. For that reason, the secretary general felt that the Arab League has approved a bloody war on Libya and has no power to change its course, let alone stop it.

The situation in Libya is confusing to say the least. It is imperative that Col Qaddafi's regime be ousted, but Arabs may have realised that they were hasty in going along with a western desire to intervene in this way.

Referendum was a setback for revolution

"It's not a defeat, but a serious setback that must be admitted and overcome," observed Satea Noureddine, a columnist with Lebanese Assafir daily on the constitutional amendment referendum earlier this week in Egypt.

The referendum's outcome was disappointing given the extraordinary turnout at the polls.

"The revolution was much more sweeping than what transpired at the polls. The voices of the youthful, educated, middle-class leaders was much more thunderous than what the votes suggested," said the columnist.

The triumphant rebels, for unknown reasons, refrained from pressing ahead in defending their achievements. Many voices in Cairo are expressing their dissatisfaction; some even suggest a return to the streets as they interpret the outcome as a serious encroachment by the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis and remnants of the National Party on the revolution.

Islamists pose a severe threat to Egypt nowadays; a threat far greater than that of the former ruling party. The heaven that they promote is nothing but a recipe for a civil strife of which the Islamists all over the region have become experts.

In the words of the Egyptian writer Mohamed Hasanein Haykal on Monday: "The Egyptian revolution after the referendum can be compared to a man who managed to get the moon, but all he asked for was a hotdog."

No intervention for Gaza's civilians

While the world is preoccupied with events in Libya, the Israeli government commits massacres in Gaza, the last of which happened two days ago when aircrafts killed eight Palestinians, three of whom were children, observed the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial.

Three children were killed by missiles while playing football in their neighbourhood. The attacks prove that those who targeted them did so in cold blood for the purpose of creating terror. Children don't fire missiles at Israeli settlements and they don't work at arms factories.

"The UN Security Council will not call for an emergency session to discuss this Israeli massacre. It will not issue a resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Gaza to protect the civilians, for there is no oil in the besieged strip that would prompt US aircraft carriers to move to the region or declare a state of emergency in British and French military bases in Cyprus and Corsica,."

The Arab League doesn't regard the massacres in Gaza as attenti worthy. They have not done anything to lift the siege and before it the three-week aggression of 2008 that killed 1,400 people. Why would they care for the killing of eight more in one day?

This last bloody Israeli assault is a testimony to the international community's double standards, but it must become further motivation to continue the course of resistance, the article concludes.

Libya stalled by coalition of the unwilling

If the former US president George Bush succeeded in forming an alliance of "willing" nations to launch a war on Iraq in 2003, President Barack Obama managed to guarantee international cover for a no-fly zone resolution over Libya by gathering together what The Guardian described as an "alliance of unwilling" nations, said Mazen Hammad, a columnist with the Qatari Al Watan newspaper.

The western campaign in Libya reveals deep divisions as to the feasibility and strategic goals of air raids on Col Qaddafi's strongholds. At the same time, the Arab League held an urgent session as it secretary-general, Amr Moussa, called for an immediate termination of military operations, which he said harms the very civilians they were launched to protect.

Differences don't stop at that. In Britain, the government sees Col Qaddafi as a military target that should be chased out, while its military seems not to think so. In addition to China and Russia, who refrained from voting for the resolution against the Qaddafi regime, India, Brazil and some African states oppose a forceful termination of the regime.

Libya, in the mess it is in, did not really need divided parties to come to its rescue.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem

rmakarem@thenational.ae

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