x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Arabic editorial discusses willful blindness of Syrian regime

Opinion writers in Arabic-language newspapers express themselves on Iran's furtive trade with Israel, Karzai's warning to Nato and what must happen next in Libya.

Syria leaders refuse to see internal causes

Syrian authorities continue to blame external forces for sparking protests, observed the columnist Abdullah Iskandar in a commentary for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

They also refused to acknowledge the existence of an internal crisis. This justifies continuing the security clampdown on demonstrators. Authorities are counting on the repression to cause the demonstrations to subside and fade gradually.

"They predicted that the crisis, or a conspiracy, according to them, is coming to an end, as if to link the rising number of victims to its countdown."

With such an attitude, the authorities persist to overlook the issues that actually prompted Syrians to take to the street to demand changes.

Interestingly, Syrian authorities blamed the US, France and, unofficially, Turkey for being behind this conspiracy. The officials pointed the finger at these particular countries as they dared to criticise Damascus's reluctance to introduce genuine reforms.

The reforms promised fell well short of people's expectations. Most of the said changes, such as lifting the emergency law, setting up investigation and dialogue committees, and amending the election law, do not address the core of the problem.

Meanwhile, the opposition, for its part, has failed in proposing a comprehensive programme of reform, and is still counting on reform within the regime.

In Libya, the time for dialogue has passed

"This is not a good time for negotiations in Libya. It is time for the regime to step down and hand over all authority," remarked Mazen Hammad in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaperAl Watan.

"The appearance of Col Muammar al Qaddafi alongside South African president Jacob Zuma was evidence he is still alive, but the mediation initiative of Mr Zuma, who represented the African Union, was stillborn. Rebels reject any cease-fire without the departure of the regime."

Apparently, Mr Qaddafi is fast running out of time, as British forces target his fortifications in Al Aziziyah with depth bombs. Reports that he is relentlessly seeking safety by spending nights in hospitals and with relatives in Tripoli, only confirm that his life remains under threat. He is now left with no option but to quit in return for his own safe exit.

With Mr Qaddafi still defiant and his closest aides and military officers continuing to defect, the African Union cease mediation efforts. Moreover, the rebels' stance is unchanged: there is no dialogue with Mr Qaddafi as long as he clings to power.

For now, Nato should continue applying military pressure on Mr Qaddafi's forces, while other countries need to recognise the legitimacy of the Benghazi-based Libyan Transitional Council.


Karzai's 'final warning' to Nato is trivial

The Afghan president Hamid Karzai issued what he called "the final warning" to the US military command in Afghanistan, after 12 children and two mothers were killed in a Nato air strike this week in Pashtun-dominated Helmand province, reported the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

The major "catch-22" governing the relationship between Mr Karzai and the US forces makes this final warning inconsequential, the newspaper observed in its editorial.

"The US military command will not take Mr Karzai's last warnings seriously. The man doesn't have too many options other than resignation, but he won't resign for the simple reason that to remain safe, he relies completely on the US Marines," the newspaper said.

In fact, Mr Karzai was forced to make the statement after absorbing the wrath of members of his tribe following the killing.

The Karzai-US relationship aside, it is not the first time US or Nato forces have killed Afghan civilians by mistake, the newspaper noted. An elementary school was once tragically mistaken for an al Qa'eda hideout.

While the US is scrambling for a dignified way to pull out of the country - wasting blood and treasure in the process - the situation in Afghanistan is, by all measures, only getting worse.





Who knew? Iran was trading with Israel

Granted, pragmatism is part of politics. But Israeli cargo ships docking at Iranian ports? And for years? That is genuinely weird, wrote Tareq al Homayed, editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The news didn't come out in a newspaper scoop or other investigative journalism; it emerged from the list of sanctions issued by the US state department against firms dealing with Iran.

Tehran and its cronies in the region, like Syria and Hizbollah, have based a big part of their feisty rhetoric on boycotting Israel, and regularly denounce the collaborationism of Arab states which have any form of diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv.

"Now Arab citizens, especially those uninfected by political ideology, must pay heed to this, and revisit the way Iran has behaved in the region under the pretext of tackling Israel, while it was actually opening up its ports for Israeli ships," the editor said.

It is far better, and certainly more transparent, to openly have ties with Israel based on documented agreements, than to indulge in excoriating it all day long - in the name of the Palestinian cause - while undertaking underhanded deals with "the enemy".



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk


























* Digest compiled by The National's Translation Desk