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Sectarian warfare looms in Lebanon

Hizbollah's defiance over the Special Tribunal indictments has generated a feeling that violence may be close by for Lebanon, writes one Arabic-language columnist. Topics of today's other ercerpts: child labour in Jordan, the thwarted flotilla, and Sudanese promises.

Hizbollah's defiant attitude toward the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is likely to make the situation in the Arab countries even more complex, columnist Saleh al Qallab argued in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The threats launched by Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader, are reminiscent of the civil war atmosphere that still traumatises the Lebanese. They also remind us of the infamous threats by Colonel Muammar Qaddafi to devastate Libya town by town and alley by alley.

Truly, there is a strong feeling that sectarian war is looming. The March 14th coalition, the current opposition, has recently become more vocal against Hizbollah's weapons and its military strength, which is said to be mightier than that of the sovereign army. Strategically, the coalition feels also more empowered given the crisis in Syria, the historical ally of Hizbollah.

Of course, there is always the possibility that Syria could use the indictment of Hizbollah members (and potentially later some Syrian officials) as an excuse to rush in and spark new civil strife in Lebanon. Damascus may also think of expanding the scope of a war in the region for the sake of distracting attention from its own crisis.

"It is an impasse not only for Sunnis in Lebanon, but also for many Arab countries that are concerned with the situation there."

Jordan should do more on child labour issue

"We do hear statements from officials of Jordan's labour ministry about efforts to curb child labour. There are seminars where international experts lecture on the subject," Nazeeh al Goussous observed in an opinion piece for the Jordanian paper Addustour.

"Yet we still see many children working in many places, and only rarely do we hear of inspectors checking workshops."

Officials, he added, "while on their way to their offices" must have noticed "children, who sell chewing gum from morning to midnight at traffic signals."

Child labour is also common elsewhere in the world. But the Jordanian ministry's strategy of only monitoring the situation is not effective.

Some of those who quit school to work must do so because their parents can no longer afford to support them. So for the ministry ro sometimes force the working children to quit their jobs is a wrong solution. Children in that situation may resort to making a living by joining criminal rings.

The ministry should undertake a comprehensive study to look into the causes that force children to leave school.

Then, it needs to provide housing for orphans, and offer education or vocational training.

Many international organisations are ready to provide material and technical assistance in this matter, if the ministry will take the right initiatives.

Sudanese leaders must honour pledges

The state of South Sudan will soon be announced, after 12 years of civil war and six years of shaky peace, noted the Egyptian paper Al Ahram in an editorial.

North and South have been relentlessly exchanging warnings and accusations, and there have been armed clashes and skirmishes, especially in Abyei.

This area has remained the bone of contention between the two sides even after southerners chose independence in a referendum, hoping for separation with peace rather than unity with continuing strife.

The Southern leader, Silva Kiir, did well when he said that although the Northern army had recently seized disputed Abyei, he would seek peaceful means to solve this issue. His attitude was welcome and had a deep effect on solving other pending problems as well as encouraging both parties to engage in further talks.

However, the move by the Conference Party in Khartoum to criticise the Addis Ababa agreement, and calls for using force to end conflicts in southern Kordofan, the Blue Nile and Abyei, are unacceptable. Warnings of a new war from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement are also offensive, as they are likely to nurture new frictions which will cripple efforts to tackle important issues like debt and oil-money distribution.

To promote a long-lasting peace in Sudan, all stakeholders should honour the agreements they have signed.

Israel's flotilla 'victory' tastes more like a loss

"The fierce battle the activists of the second flotilla are facing on many fronts reveals how much Israel fears a peaceful action to break the unjust siege of the Gaza Strip," the Qatari newspaper Al Sharq said in its editorial.

The hectic diplomatic, media and security action by Israel to thwart the flotilla confirms that Israel fears that the activists' efforts will uncover the occupation's inhumane practices against the Palestinian people.

It is striking to learn how the Greek authorities acquiesced to the pressure exerted by Israel and some western countries to prevent the departure of the flotilla from its ports.

This came following a phone conversation between Israel's prime minster, Benjamin Netanyahu and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Athens's reaction was surprising because it used to support the Palestinian cause. The decision this time is apparently related to Greece's big economic crisis.

"It may appear that Israel has won the battle, but this a victory with a taste of loss.

"Activists have attracted media attention and put Gaza in the headlines one again."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi

melmouloudi@thenational.ae

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