After 22 years in power, Sudan's Bashir can't stay president without his country going to war
The president of Sudan, Omar Bashir, has brought unrest and war to his country since he took power 22 years ago, wrote columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in yesterday's edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.
Mr Bashir knows he won't be able to stay in office for much longer if he doesn't take his country to even more war - this time with South Sudan as a fledging country, not as the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) which represented the southern provinces during the civil war, the columnist noted.
"You see him these days trying to take his internal problems to the borders as things are starting to move in the capital Khartoum, with various political forces calling for an end to his bloody rule."
What was Mr Bashir's response to this sea change? War again - a war to free Heglig, a disputed oil-rich territory on the ill-defined borders between Sudan and South Sudan after the latter captured an oil field there.
"He is trying to convince his people that he is determined to recover that one city, yet he was the one to sell off the whole south about [seven] years ago when he was under international pressure over his crimes in the country's western and southern provinces," according to the columnist.
Until last winter, South Sudan was a semi-autonomous territory under the Sudanese flag. A referendum in January - held as part of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government of Sudan and the SPLM - showed that the overwhelming majority of southerners wanted to secede from Sudan.
More recently, Mr Bashir declared that he was aiming to topple the government in Juba, the South's capital. "Basically, he wants to completely distract the Sudanese people with his new war," the columnist argued.
"He is forcing the Sudanese youth into mandatory service, hoping that his time-worn ruse of warmongering will help him extend his rule for a few more years."
Mr Bashir wants an enemy on the outside to unite his people on the inside, the columnist went on. If the country is in war, it will be easier for President Bashir to dismiss his detractors as "traitors" and throw them in jail.
"It won't be the first time he plays that game," the writer added.
"He's been through two decades of internal warfare during which he managed to wear out his opponents and convert the opposition's emblematic figures, like Al Sadiq Al Mahdi who can't oppose him anymore out of fear."
When Mr Bashir came to power, he pledged that his government will be a transitional "rescue" government. Since that time, the Sudanese people's lives came down to two options: either take part in the regime's wars, or leave their country.
When a Palestinian girl sings for Israel
"Nasreen Qadri is a young Palestinian girl from the city of Haifa, which was occupied in 1948. She went from being a wedding singer to the winner of the biggest young talent show in Israel. In the process, however, she sang a Hebrew song commemorating dead Zionist soldiers," wrote columnist Amjad Arar in an article for the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej yesterday.
Ms Qadri's move was seen by some as a triumph over Israel's racism against the Arabs of Israel and a challenge to segregationist views and policies there.
"Get real," the writer said. The song that Ms Qadri sang "wasn't like a song for peace and co-existence, the kind that pro-normalisation artists usually sing. This one was basically a prayer for a safe Israel."
Ms Qadri, henceforth a "super star" of gratuitous normalisation, did not "break Israel's fort of racism with her Arab sword", as some like to think.
The fact is that she would never have been admitted into the show to begin with, if she hadn't made so many statements expressing "allegiance to the Zionists … and pride in her Israeli identity", the writer said.
Israel would never let a Palestinian or an Arab shine on its own turf, unless he or she serve as a decoy for the world to think Israel is a discrimination-free democracy.
Bin Laden's letters reveal a 'sensible' man
"The Americans can't be that naïve," wrote columnist Satei Noureddine in the Lebanese newspaper Assafir yesterday, commenting on Washington's disclosure on Thursday of 175 (of more than 6,000) letters that were retrieved from a computer in Osama bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a year ago - following his assassination by US commandos.
The content in those documents "does not really achieve the intended effect", the columnist said, "which is publicity" for an achievement Washington considers major. "Nor does one get the impression that bin Laden indeed fits the prototype of evil, terrorism and cruelty that he came to represent."
From the letters, bin Laden emerges as "a balanced and sensible man" in some ways, the columnist said, "one who rejects operations that lead to the killing of Muslims or campaigns targeting the Shiites in Iraq, and one who advises against the establishment of an Islamic state in Yemen."
In releasing these, Washington also reveals some of bin Laden's personal and leadership traits, which may raise his posthumous popularity in some Arab and Muslim circles.
* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi