x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Annan plan requires regime's goodwill

Kofi Annan's proposal for Syrian peace could work, an Arabic-language commentator says, provided that the Assad regime is not merely stalling. Other subjects today: Israel and human right and the "Islamist Autumn".

Annan's plan for Syria is a litmus test for the country's authorities and the opposition alike

In a recent development, the Syrian authorities approved the six-point proposal offered by Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria. This development considerably pressures not only the Syrian opposition, but also the Arab countries that have invested heavily, on financial, media and political levels, in the opposition in order to bring down the Assad regime, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi said in its Wednesday editorial.

Mr Annan's plan calls for a ceasefire on all fronts and on all sides, as well as for the release of the detained and the withdrawal of tanks and armed forces from the streets. It also suggests an inclusive national dialogue between the authorities and the opposition, one that should eventually yield a political solution acceptable to all, which would guarantee a definitive end to the bloodshed.

The Syrian opposition has been, and still is, seeking the fall of the regime. It refrains from entering into any form of dialogue with the Assads, considering them illegitimate. And it calls for a Libya-style military intervention to oust the regime.

"But Kofi Annan's plan includes no mention of the regime's fall," the paper commented.

"It doesn't call for international military intervention. What's more, in fact, is that Mr Annan's plan responds to the demands of the Syrian regime, since it admits that armed violence is practised by both sides, the authorities and the opposition alike.

"This indicates that the circumstances have changed and that they continue to change on a daily basis, at an accelerated pace," said the daily.

The meeting of various factions of the opposition in Istanbul can be viewed as a clear indication of the change.

The powers behind the meeting, especially Turkey and Qatar, which invited Syrian opposition figures to take part in the talks, are endeavouring to unite the ranks of the opposition into a sizeable front that represents a wider segment of the Syrian people.

A more encompassing opposition would be in a better position to entertain a dialogue with the regime in the near future.

At the same time, the idea adopted by Saudi Arabia, to arm the opposition, seems to have been neglected. The Syrian opposition denies receiving any arms shipments so far.

Mr Annan's plan is a golden opportunity to prevent any further slide towards a sectarian civil war in Syria.

But, for the initiative to be realised successfully, the Syrian authorities are required to genuinely commit to its provisions and not exploit it to gain time.

And Syria's failure to implement Annan's plan could very well cost it the support of China and Russia.

Civic politics check the 'Islamist Autumn'

The second phase of the Arab revolutions is advancing steadily as Islamists take over, suggested the columnist Satea Noureddine in the Lebanese daily Assafir."[The Islamists] have reverted to their more realistic role that can't reach the level of drafting modern constitutions for states recently emancipated from dictatorship," he said.

Tunisia, Egypt and Syria have marked three milestones in the second wave of the Arab revolutions that show that things will fall into place faster than anticipated, as if an "Islamist Autumn" were in full force.

In Tunisia, the ruling Ennahda party decided to part ways with the Salafis by acquiescing to the secular public that protested against the adoption of Islamic law as a source of legislation in the country. The movement announced that it intends to keep intact the Tunisian constitution as it was drafted under the late president Habib Bourguiba.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood suddenly found themselves alone with their Salafi rivals as others walked out of the committee in charge of drafting the new constitution.

"It was a defiant gesture aimed at rectifying the course of the Egyptian revolution and reopening its horizon," the columnist added.

And the last speech of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood announced their acceptance of civil traditions and the multi-confessional community.

Diplomatic blockade of Israel must continue

The tense Israeli reaction to the UN Human Rights Council decision last Thursday, to form an international committee to look into the damages of the Israeli settlement plans on Palestinians, shows the level of terror that grips Israel whenever an equitable decision is issued by international organisations, opined the Qatari newspaper Al Watan in its editorial.

Israel announced on Tuesday that it is cutting off all contact with the Human Right Council. At the same time, an Israeli official stated that Tel Aviv will not allow any of the international council's representatives into its territories. And he noted that "high officials at the Israeli foreign ministry decided to convince the US to withdraw from the Council."

Israel's continuous transgressions on the human rights of Palestinians and its arbitrary politics that violate every international convention reveal how deep its diplomatic crisis is, after the repeated condemnations by the international community of its egregious practices in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel is facing an ever-tightening diplomatic siege that calls on Arab and Islamic countries to intensify pressure on Israel by constantly revealing its aggressiveness and crimes.

 

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem

rmakarem@thenational.ae