Self-interest blocks Palestinian solution
"Demands to end the division have been embraced by all, as Hamas and Fatah allowed Palestinians to protest. This implies that both parties have agreed in principle," observed the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds in its editorial.
In fact, the Palestinian people, wherever they are, have always called for a reunion even before the demonstrations. Perhaps what hinders any serious action to unify the Palestinians is the diverse ideologies underlying each group. On the one hand, Fatah adopts what is called the national project. Hamas advocates resistance against the occupation. Yet both of them, in real terms, have long waived armed struggle to ensure stability in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
For months no resistance has been carried out against Israel from either side. As long as the two factions have agreed to placate Israel, why hasn't there been a reconciliation?
No answer, so far, is possible. Officials are apparently in favour of the status quo, because this situation serves their own interests. The sense of belonging is not linked to the nation or the Palestinian cause as much as with a movement or a faction. This applies not only to Fatah and Hamas but to all other forces.
Any solution to the reconciliation stalemate depends on the willingness to overcome narrow interests and think bigger for the benefit of all Palestinians.
Investments to assure Middle East's stability
In a commentary for the UAE daily Al Khaleej, Henry Azzam, the chairman of Deutsche Bank Mena, wrote that Middle East countries should adopt policies to govern the state and the economy on the one hand and the business sector and the community on the other hand.
"Sustainable economic development is contingent upon political development and social security," Azzam wrote.
For this to happen, it is necessary to ensure political stability by engaging citizens in the decision-making process. The region, of course, will be more attractive to business and direct foreign investments if stability is achieved - not through security forces but by fostering a number of fundamental principles, such as enacting the role of law, respecting political rights, combating corruption, protecting investment and setting up economic and social security networks.
It is worth mentioning that countries that have witnessed popular uprisings achieved high levels of development of about 5 per cent. But this growth has not evenly benefitted all segments of society.
To curb this situation, the business community should devote more attention to sustainability and take into account common interests. More investment is needed in industry, agriculture, education, medicine, small and medium-sized enterprises and creative businesses.
Syria is on the brink of a popular revolution
It would be premature to say that the popular protest movement that was witnessed in some streets in Damascus on Wednesday is a budding uprising, observed Abdelbari Atwan the editor-in-chief of the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi. But what is certain is that there are many injustices that will sooner or later push in that direction unless the Syrian regime backtracks and makes serious reforms, which seems highly unlikely.
During the past 10 years under President Bashar Assad, the Syrians have been living off vain promises of reforms, but nothing has changed. The situation remains the same as it was 40 years ago when Mr Assad's father orchestrated his revolution. However, security has become a monster eating the people's aspirations under the pretexts of resistance and opposition to imperialistic conspiracies.
"We are well aware that Syria is the only Arab country that embraces both the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, but it is unacceptable that this be the justification for not implementing the political, social and economic reforms that the Syrians have been claiming for four decades."
A free people with elected democratic institutions form the most effective security apparatus to protect the regime, but unfortunately, this doesn't exist in Syria at the moment.
New Patriarch brings hope for Lebanon
Earlier this week, the Maronite Church in Lebanon elected the new Patriarch Beshara al Raii. It is an event that could represent a turning point for the divided Maronites as well as for Lebanon that is in dire need of unity after years of conflict, wrote the columnist Elias Dairy in the Lebanese daily Annahar.
The election of the new Patriarch, known for his integrity and patriotism, was met with wide consensus and brought with it immense hope. He doesn't need to be reminded of the ailments that have segregated the Lebanese in general and its Christians in particular. He realises that the sect requires objective self-criticism and modifications on many levels that would later reflect positively on the country's social fabric as a whole.
In his first speech at the helm of the Maronite Church, he spoke of "Lebanon's glory", but glory can't be reached through politics alone or by conflicts over power. It can certainly not be achieved through hatred among sects. An honest and transparent dialogue among all sides is required to rebuild the wounded country.
In these difficult times, the Lebanese can only wager on their new Patriarch who knows well the volume of decay that has afflicted the sects and therefore the country.
* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk