Terrorist cell arrests by UAE and Saudi forces makes strong case for GCC security integration
The joint UAE-Saudi operation that led to the arrest of a terrorist cell ,said to have been planning attacks in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring countries, makes a strong argument for the need of further security integration among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, wrote Tariq Al Homayed, editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat yesterday.
Security officials said Wednesday that those arrested were Emirati and Saudi nationals, according to the UAE state news agency, Wam.
No further details were provided as to how many were arrested or the place and time of the arrest. But the members of the cell were referred to as "members of the deviant group", a label often used by Saudi authorities and media to refer to terror suspects linked to Al Qaeda.
Interestingly, the GCC have just adopted at the Manama summit this week an amended security treaty to boost coordination between members of the six-nation bloc, the editor said.
"By all means, security coordination at the highest levels among GCC nations is a prerequisite, and this UAE revelation proves it," he noted.
"The arrest of this terrorist cell tells us that terrorism hasn't come to its end in our region, particularly in the Gulf, making security coordination and collaboration more critical."
The use of the phrase "deviant group" by UAE authorities also indicates that the struggle against Al Qaeda is far from over, despite what some might like to think, the editor said.
The theory that "the Arab Spring has brought the downfall of Al Qaeda or that Al Qaeda's threat was purposely exaggerated by certain Arab governments" reveals its weaknesses in this case, he noted.
"The reality we're looking at here is that Al Qaeda is very much present and active and intends to perpetrate as many terror crimes as possible," he observed. "Similar revelations [of Al Qaeda plots] have recently been made in Tunisia and Morocco - and look at developments in Libya and what's happening in Yemen."
If GCC nations share the same security concerns, it should make a lot of sense for them to come together as one in strategising for their security, he said.
Clamping down on hidden funding sources that support Al Qaeda operatives must be at the heart of the GCC security agenda. "Saudi Arabia has done a great job of blocking sources of funding to Al Qaeda and the UAE is very tough on extremism, but the question remains: who has been sponsoring this terror cell? Where did it source the equipment that was mentioned in the UAE statement?"
It is important that pubic opinion be informed about those details, the editor said in conclusion.
Hurdles still stand in Emiratisation's way
"The psychotherapy business must be flourishing these days as job hunting is taking such a mental toll on thousands of Emirati nationals," wrote Ayesha Al Muhairi, head of human resources at Imedia, in an opinion article for the UAE-based newspaper Al Roeya on Wednesday.
How can these Emiratis land jobs when some government bodies are still clinging to armies of expatriates nearing the retirement age of 60? the writer asked.
"And even when these expats reach the legal age limit, their government sponsors apply for one-year residency renewals on their behalf, on the grounds that they are experts without whom the organisation would fall apart," she noted.
Add to that: cronyism. "Some organisations have a reputation for hiring Emiratis from specific tribes only," she wrote.
"Indeed, acquaintances are becoming the main driver of Emiratisation. I remember that I got my first job - and perhaps my second and third as well - through my acquaintances."
Sure, there are organisations out there that seek to hire qualified, brilliant Emiratis, who should pass a set of pre-appointment tests. But those IQ-type tests are either too easy or too archaic, she added.
In other cases, the Emirati candidate is expected to be "a super hero, the one who will save the world , while the expat is easily hired because he knows a few unintelligible words".
Morsi wins major round in battle for Egypt
"President Mohammed Morsi seems to have won the Egypt battle, or at least a major round, after he succeeded in pushing the new Egyptian constitution through with the least possible damages, squeezing himself and the country out of a bottleneck," the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi editorialised yesterday.
The "bottleneck" here refers to "the civil war" that has loomed over the country due to the sharp polarisation that the constitution spawned.
There were also fears that the army might overreact at the height of the confrontation between government authorities and the protesters. But it didn't happen, the paper said. In fact, the army played a key role in maintaining stability through rough times.
"The Egyptian president was clearly relieved when he delivered his speech [on Wednesday], as if he had just laid a huge burden off his shoulders," Al Quds Al Arabi said.
"His speech was fraught with statements on pluralism, liberties, freedom of expression, the recognition of the opposition. But, perhaps, the highlight of the speech was Dr Morsi's admission that he and his government have made mistakes that will not be repeated."
* Digest compiled by Tranlsation Desk