"Everyone knows that the referendum scheduled next month will determine not only the fate of southern Sudan, but also of the whole country," noted the Qatari daily Al Raya. It should either decide about a split or united nation based on new standards that will preserve the diverse religious, racial and cultural character of Sudanese society.
So it is required now of all parties to provide an atmosphere conducive to this constitutional process by refraining from remarks and emotional reactions that may spark new ethnic conflicts and throw the country into a swirl of endless wars.
The election results of the referendum should be respected, whatever they are, because they express the will of the southerners.
Sudanese parties need now to honour their promises laid out in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and build up mutual confidence. This way they can better cope with the changes of the post-referendum era. Most importantly, they need to maintain the bonds between them regardless of the election results in order to avoid eventual civil war, and also to be the basis of future neighbourly relations.
It should be noted that the self-detrmination referendum in Sudan is important to settle outstanding internal issues, but it can also have regional and international repercussions.
Arab Christians' plight is shared by Muslims
In a commentary for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat, Abdul Rahman al Rashed highlighted the fact that Arab Christians are enduring a serious crisis in the region as they face various rising threats from Islamist armed groups.
Because they have suffered attacks from these extremist movements, Iraqi Christians have celebrated this year's Christmas under the strict protection of security forces, which cordonned off churches.
In Egypt, Copts went through deadly incidents, while in Lebanon, Christians are under continous pressure from rising sectarian tensions. Christians in Syria and Jordan are in better situation, however.
Yet, while pressure on Christians in many cases is deliberate, their situation is part of a larger plight that also affects Muslims and other ethnic communities. Extremist groups target all in a systematic manner.
There are victims of violence that targets, in the first place, Sunnis and Shiites, or any Muslim group that holds a different view. Arab Christian citizens have a problems similar to their Muslim counterparts which concerns civil rights and fear of the future. This is true for all and not specific to any followers of any faith. A solution to this situation should not be found by creating independent states, building ghettos or encouraging emigration.
Libyan rebels deny international links
In a statement, the Libyan Fighting Group (LFG) denied it had had any external links, reported the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.
This came a few days after an alleged report attributed to one of its members who spoke of having contacts in Asia, Europe and some Arab countries. The LFG questioned who was behind the false statement, describing it as an attempt to harm the LFG.
Abu Suhaib, a LFG leader based in London, said on Thursday that the report by Abu Tayeb, which was circulated by many websites, contained "serious lies and contradictions". Mr Suhaib said the allegations that the LFG had had links with other Islamic groups overseas was "a pure fabrication".
The LFG leader hinted at the possibility of a conspiracy, pointing out that the damage resulting from such lies was obvious and raised questions inside and outside Libya concerning the timing and the goals behind the report.
Mr Suhaib added that his group had made necessary contacts with all concerned parties and concluded that there was no person called Abu Tayeb and this confirmed that the report was null and void. He insisted that such a suspicious statement should not give justifications for the Libyan regime to withdraw from its promises to release some of its members as part of a dialogue between the government and LFG leaders.
Heal divisions for the sake of Gaza
"Israel does not hesitate to voice again its intentions to launch large-scale military aggression against the besieged population in Gaza under the pretext of fending off the firing of rockets from the Strip," observed the UAE newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial.
While warning statements from the Israeli army continue to pour in, Arabs and the international community tend to be less heedful to the mounting threats and, so far, have done little to spare the region a new war.
Palestinians, however, appear to lack a comprehensive national vision to save the besieged Gazans, who are constantly under Israeli threats and flash raids. Palestinians tend also to be less interested in healing their divisions and moving towards reconciliation.
The Palestinian Authority should put the situation of Gaza on the top of its priorities by taking practical steps to end the political and geographical divisions which have lasted for more than three years. The Palestinian Authority also needs to undertake a national plan supported by Arab countries to rebuild Gaza and help its population to improve their living standards.
For their part, Arabs should exert international pressure in a consorted action to lift the blockade on the Strip and negotiate a reconciliation among the Palestinians.