x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Arab monarchies are more responsive

One of today's excerpts from the Arabic-language press makes the argument that in the Arab world many monarchies respond better to the people's wishes than do certain republics. Other topics: Libya, Syria, the Palestinians.

Arab monarchies are a factor for stability

Three years ago, the Saudi king announced reforms in several economic sectors. A few days ago, the king of Jordan announced that the parliamentary majority will form the government in his country. Friday, it was the king of Morocco who came out with a new draft constitution, in response to people's demands.

Tareq Homayed, editor-in-chief of the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat, compared Arab monarchs to presidents this way: "In his speech, the Moroccan king called himself his people's 'primary servant', while in Libya, Col Muammar Qaddafi calls his people rats and kills them. Supporters of the Assads in Syria refer to anti-regime protesters as 'scum' … Isn't the difference obvious?"

Most Arab republics promote themselves as the antidote to atavistic systems or monarchies. But these same regimes are massacring their peoples to hang on to power. They are the ones consecrating atavism … in Syria, in Yemen and in Libya. But Arab monarchies have become a source of stability and advancement.

"Arab monarchies are far from petrified, as is the case of Arab republics. The recent news from Morocco proves that Arab monarchies move forward and are in tune with people's demands.

"This doesn't mean the monarchies need no reform, but the point is Arab monarchies have proven themselves better than phoney republics."


US legal debate may change Libyan war

Differences among legal advisers in the US administration indicate that the war between Muammar Qaddafi and the rebels in Libya is still far from resolution, remarked Mazen Hammad in an opinion piece for the Doha-based newspaper Al Watan.

The US media have shed light on the decision of president Barack Obama to ignore legal opinions from the Pentagon and State department. These opinions were that Washington-led Nato military activities against the Libyan regime amounted aggression, which requires that Mr Obama halt these operations by a deadline.

Rather, Mr Obama decided to adopt the views of the White House legal advisers and others from the State Department, who argued that the ongoing military operations did not reach a level of aggression, which means he is not required to obtain approval from Congress.

The White House argued that the campaign in Libya is not governed by the War Powers Resolution, which requires presidents to stop military offensives within a period of 60 days.

Mr Obama, however, insists that operations against Libya are not aggressive acts, but military action designed to rescue civilians from the oppression of the regime's forces. Similar differences emerged in Europe, but they have not taken on the same magnitude as in the US.


Assad has ignored plenty of good advice

The Syrian president, Bashar al Assad, has failed to consider advice he received when he first acceded to power and received again more recently when public protests erupted throughout the country, remarked Saleh al Qallab in an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda.

Before he died, Hafez al Assad asked the then French president, Jacques Chirac, to be a mentor to his son at the beginning of his time in office. Mr Chirac talked to Bashar at his father's funeral. "His response was so spontaneous he seemed he would take a good path and lead Syria accordingly," Mr Chirac was recently cited as saying. But "no sooner had al Assad taken power … than he opted for … putting all powers under his control. All he wanted was to increase his family's influence."

When demonstrations started in March, King Abdullah of Jordan encouraged Mr al Assad to maintain communication with the people and stay close to them.

The Turkish premier, Recep Erdogan, did the same thing recently when he advised Mr al Assad to stop all acts of repression and respond to the people's demands and introduce necessary reforms.

Apparently, Mr al Assad consulted his own advisers, who may have convinced him that once concessions start they would never stop. With the regime's reluctance to provide a positive response, protesters have upped the ceiling of their demands. Now the people want him out.

Europe, US differ over Palestinian issue

Recent US and European positions on the Palestinian territories seem to be multidirectional to columnist Hussam Kanafani in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

Both are concerned by the Palestinian Authority's intention to request international recognition for an independent state in September. However, each has a different agenda.

The Europeans are seeking to save face at the UN general assembly, as the majority of countries are set to reject what they see as a "unilateral claim" for independence. Unlike the US, the EU member states can't all expressly reject Palestinian aspirations. They are merely seeking to avoid embarrassment as they realise that the UN General Assembly would be the end of the road for the "two state solution".

Meanwhile, the US prefers to press for a revival of negotiations.

The Palestinian Authority is also worried, trying to avoid the possibility of the project ending in failure and ready to accept the French initiative for a peace conference. "It seems however that the Palestinian condition on the halting of settlement activities has been overridden with the condition of negotiations," said the writer. "And it appears that, under pressure from every side, the Palestinians haven't resolved their position yet."


* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem