x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Waiting to find out who was responsible for the ever-growing expansion of Al Qaeda’s power in Syria, the terrorist organisation’s agenda continues to impose itself on the conflict’s developments, said Abdullah Iskandar, the managing editor of the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

It remains to be proved whether the Assad regime itself has been pushing since the very beginning to militarise the protest movement to justify its aggressive clampdown and return to its dictatorial control or whether terrorist elements infiltrated the ranks of the opposition on their own.

Meanwhile, sectarian violence, kidnappings and other extremist infractions on civil liberties have become a staples of the continuing conflict.

“The focus on Al Qaeda’s agenda isn’t a deviation in the course of the conflict; it is the outcome of the compulsory, or the deliberate, absence of the original protest slogans and of the vacuum created by internal conflicts within the opposition that continues to fail to regroup and organise against the regime,” the writer said.

“It is the result of the regime’s relentless efforts to confront extremism, terrorism and religious radicalism in a multi-sectarian country, which ultimately gives grounds to its violent solutions,” he added.

However, boiling down the Syrian revolution’s current situation to Al Qaeda’s agenda jeopardises its fate.

It is an issue that the regime and its Russian sponsors are trying to harness in their preparations for the second Geneva conference on Syria as it could distort the world’s view of the Syrian opposition.

Powerful western countries in the Friends of Syria group have been exploiting any developments in the field to withdraw their support to the revolutionary forces.

Hence, western aid was immediately halted when the Islamic Front took over some of the Free Syrian Army’s warehouses. As a result, the opposition was weakened at the political and the military levels.

Meanwhile, extremist and terrorist groups continue to receive aid and weapons from unofficial sources, allowing them to further entrench their control on the battlefield.

The US have been pressuring the champions of the Syrian revolution, particularly the Gulf states, to reduce their support to the opposition and to prevent the FSA access to advanced weapons out of fear that these weapons will fall in the hands of the more extremist elements that are operating under the umbrella of the opposition.

Al Qaeda and its affiliates aren’t the least concerned with the Syrian revolution or any of its objectives. It is a trans-border phenomenon that doesn’t fit any of the divisions and classifications within the Syrian opposition.

Tunisia unsure, three years after revolution

Tunisians are marking the third anniversary of their Jasmine revolution, sparked when young street fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, wrote the UAE-based paper Al Bayan in an editorial yesterday.

Three years ago, thousands of people across Tunisia took to the streets to protest against employment, social injustice and corruption. Scores of protesters were killed or injured in clashes with security forces before then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country. His regime fell on January 14, 2011.

Tunisians thought that the collapse of the Ben Ali regime was the first step towards establishing democracy and providing the much-awaited decent lives for every Tunisian.

However things did not go in the right direction and Tunisia has never been stable under any government, with the latest political crisis escalating over disagreement about who would replace Prime Minister Ali Al Arid.

Now a consensus has been reached on naming Mahdi Jomaa for the job. But questions are still being raised over the survival of Jomaa’s government because he was already part of Al Arid’s government, serving as minister of industry.

Achieving the goals of the Jasmine revolutions is the dream of all Tunisians, and dialogue and joint action for the greater good is the key to that end, the paper said.

Exceptional humans carry God’s message

Although Mohammed was the last prophet, some exceptional humans are still being sent now and then, carrying messages in arts, literature, politics and science, remarked Egyptian film critic Tarek Al Shenawy in the Cairo-based newspaper Al Tahrir.

Whether they live long or die young, they make sure their messages are delivered. Being human, they are not perfect, but their actions transcend national boundaries to the entire globe.

Gandhi, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Picasso and others have illuminated humanity with their creation. God have bestowed upon them special spiritual wealth to spread their light to the world.

Shakespeare did not write his poems for those who lived in the 1600s and 1700s or only for English readers. His works transcend the barriers of language and time.

Similarly, Beethoven’s symphonies did not target Germans only. Gandhi’s ideas targeted all faiths and races and did not merely seek to end conflict between Hindus and Muslims.

Nelson Mandela embodied the latest godly scent, wafted to humanity. He did not come to free the slaves, like Spartacus, or to free the Blacks, like Martin Luther King. Instead, his message was to free all people, including the perpetrators as not just their victims.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk