x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

A change of course at the economic summit

A daily roundup of the region's Arabic press.

The second session to the Arab economic summit in Sharm el Sheikh was unlike any other; not in view of its achievements, but in view of what it feared, observed the columnist Saad Mehio in Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.

"In light of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, summit participants practically reshuffled their agenda from discussing delusive projects that would never materialise to a collective admission that stumbling development and inequality have serious security repercussions."

The clearest confession to this effect was by the secretary-general of the Arab League, Mr Amr Moussa, who said: "The Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession. This is in addition to political problems that have not been resolved." For such rhetoric to be voiced by the chief of the Arab League reveals a big change in "official" Arab political life.

It is unfortunate that Arab ruling elites are waking up to the necessity of reform only by fear of a fate similar to that of the Tunisian ex-president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. What is more unfortunate is that these elites see their citizens' acts of self-immolation as a threat to their national security rather than a message from the bottom of human suffering.

The summit's outcome reveals that the fear would soon be translated into specific reforms. The hope remains that such reforms would be permanent.

Turkey is asked to lay off Arab affairs

In a comment on the Turkish-Qatari failure to reach concessions with conflicting Lebanese factions, the columnist Satea Noureddin in an article for the Lebanese daily Assafir observed: "It is a diplomatic setback for Turkey which has been treading Arab quicksand rather carefully."

When the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to delegate his foreign affairs minister to Beirut along with the Qatari prime minister, he knew the mission would be impossible and the Lebanese terrain is laden with many pitfalls. However, he believed that the Lebanese are aware that they are at an extremely crucial moment and need a helping hand. He also thought that Ankara has become a reference and a refuge for all Arabs, which allows him to assist them in managing their difficult internal affairs.

But the Turkish delegation in Beirut encountered fierce campaigns from Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian foreign minister stressed that the Lebanese crisis must remain within an Arab framework.

After his stormy pro-Palestinian position in Davos two years ago, Mr Erdogan grew in popularity among Arab public opinion. But his popularity couldn't camouflage the flawed Arab-Turkish relationships that were revealed through the Lebanese dilemma.

"Turkey received blows from all four sides to lay off Lebanon."

The so-called French first lady's faux pas

She was the first woman to become France's defence minister, the first woman to become minister of interior and the first woman to become minister of foreign affairs. Above all that, Michele Alliot-Marie is also deputy prime minister of France.

"Despite all these positions, her intelligence betrayed her when she made remarks unbefitting a public figure so distinguished that she is often described as France's real first lady," wrote the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

Therefore, it wasn't at all strange that her convoy was so angrily received in Gaza after she reportedly said during a visit to Israel that the capture by Hamas of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is a war crime.

The French diplomat didn't mention the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners of war in Israeli prisons, and it didn't occur to her that they are victims of Israel's war crimes.

It is true that Mr Shalit also holds a French passport, but France has no right to claim his freedom without an exchange. Thousands of Palestinians lay neglected in Israeli prisons. Their only hope is an exchange deal that would result in the liberation of many against Mr Shalit's freedom.

Ms Alliot-Marie's statements represent full support for Israeli policies, which explains why Mr Obama recently described France as the US strongest ally in the world.

US credibility now hangs in the balance

US credibility has never hung in the balance as it does today, as the world, and especially the Arab world, focuses on the UN Security Council awaiting a resolution condemning Israeli settlement, declared the Jordanian daily Addustour in its editorial.

The Palestinian Authority and the Arab Committee have demanded that Washington vote for the resolution and not veto it, especially since all other Security Council member states are in agreement on condemning Israel's transgressions against international laws.

Washington's unrelenting support for Israel for more than six decades has been the main reason for Israel's disrespect for international laws. Washington has used its veto right more than 50 times to rescue its ally from international condemnations.

Washington is capable of coercing its ally into abiding by the law as did former US president Dwight D Eisenhower when he forced the Israeli prime minister David Ben Gurion to withdraw from Gaza after the tripartite aggression in 1956.

The United States, being the sole patron of the peace process, is required to practice its role with the utmost integrity and transparency by insisting on the implementation of relevant international resolutions, in a bid to reach peace and stability in this region.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem