x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A victory for compromise

While the victory by Islamists in Tunisia was expected, political compromise based in practicality, rather than ideology, will still be required, one Arabic editorialist writes. Other topics in today's digest: Palestinian statehood, Emirati journalism and Mubarak's paranoia.

Moderate Islamists in Tunisia take the stage

The Islamic Ennahda party won the most votes in Tunisia's first post-revolution elections this week, which enables it to lead talks with other parties in a national assembly that will draft the country's new constitution and appoint an interim government.

This result was "expected", the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi said in an editorial yesterday. Ennahda, headed by the former exile Rached Ghannouchi, enjoys the support of a large segment of the Tunisian population, particularly in the countryside.

"Islamists have been the most repressed and tortured in prisons under the ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba," the newspaper said. "Both of them were intent on entrenching secularism and modernity in Tunisia, even if that required suppressing and banning Islamic parties."

With the secularist Congress for the Republic party poised to come in second, the political compromises that may have to be made in Tunisia are likely to be based in practicality, rather than ideology.

Besides, Mr Ghannouchi has repeatedly said in interviews that his party supports civil liberties.

What is most important now is to recognise that the Tunisian people have so far offered the Arab world two beautiful models: revolution and transparent elections.


The Palestinian bid for statehood drags on

Israel and the United States are sparing no effort to foil diplomatic attempts by the Palestinian Authority to become a full member of the United Nations and Unesco, the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds said in its editorial yesterday.

"The same powers that have been trying to sabotage the Palestinian bid for UN membership [since September] are at work again to scuttle the Palestinians' application for a seat on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation."

Unesco is being threatened that its financing will be cut if it does accept Palestine as a full member. And member states of the international organisation are being pressured not to vote for Palestinian membership.

"This is very strange," the newspaper said. "It runs counter to the international consensus about the two-state solution which advocates the establishment of an Arab state next to the Israeli state on the historical land of Palestine."

It is beyond reason that a membership bid for a primarily cultural and non-political institution like Unesco should be met with such virulent opposition. This is an institution that carries out literacy programmes and conserves heritage sites for the benefit of humanity at large.

"Palestinians are determined to get that [international] recognition, and sooner or later, they will get it.".


UAE media needs more Emiratis to grow

The small number of Emiratis in the press only reflects the real nature of the demographic composition of the country, editor-in-chief Sami al Reyami argued in an article for the UAE newspaper Emarat al Youm.

This is a revealing fact.

But it is wiser to ask: "Does the press problem reside [only] in the lack of Emiratis in this sector? If this is true, then such a predicament is likely to continue, and can only be addressed should the population structure imbalance be solved."

But the problem of the Emirati press goes beyond the nationality breakdown. All stakeholders in the press sector - from the National Media Council and UAE Journalists Association to various media institutions - work hard to attract young Emiratis. But if no concrete results are achieved yet, this should be attributed to many other factors of which media officials are well aware.

"Honestly ... the presence of Arabs in the national press does not affect at all the identity of our newspapers. Nor does it affect the country's and citizens' orientations. Arab journalists work in line with UAE's laws, as they publish work that serves the interests of the country and Emiratis."

Still, to overhaul the sector there is a need to improve working conditions. "If the press continues only to relay less newsy reports, there will be few chances to produce great journalists, whether Emiratis, Arabs or anyone else."


Dictators of a feather all fall together

Egyptian newspapers have been circulating details of the medical situation of deposed president Hosni Mubarak. They reveal that Mr Mubarak suffered a breakdown upon watching images of a bleeding Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, said the columnist Mazen Hammad in the newspaper Qatari Al Watan.

One analysis suggested that Mr Mubarak's hysterical state was induced by fear of meeting the same end as Qaddafi.

Like birds of a feather, most dictators share the same characteristics and behaviours. Strong ties bound Mr Mubarak and Qaddafi; they both ruled their respective countries for long periods and believed that they would remain in power until their last breaths.

Mr Mubarak's state could easily evolve into a permanent paranoia; there are even reports that he is distrustful of his guards.

"But the guilt complex doesn't seem to affect the Libyan rebels who are said to have taken advantage of the commotion following Qaddafi's arrest to execute him," said the writer. "Many had hoped that Qaddafi would be kept alive to face charges and be tried in a court of law."

Intellectuals and human rights supporters might have wanted the victorious Libyan rebels to present a more civilised and less vengeful attitude to the world.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk