x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Arabic newspapers comment on al Assad's errors in Syria

Editorials in Arab newspapers comment unrest in Mauritania, a lack of US leadership in Syria, and Qaddafi's fate in Libya.

Assad learned nothing from prior uprisings

"He saw them all on television, Egypt's Mubarak and, three weeks earlier, Tunisia's Ben Ali, tumble and fall," commented Abdulrahman al Rashed, a columnist with the London-based Asharq al Awsat newspaper. "He's also been watching Col Qaddafi struggle to maintain his control over a small portion of Libya, and Yemen's Saleh trying to negotiate an exit deal. The Syrian president saw them all and had plenty of time to learn."

But he learned nothing. The Syrian president Bashar al Assad did not even try to justify the use of force by citing some concession he's made in response to the protestors' demands. Mr al Assad did not dissolve the parliament, for instance, or attempt to reform his notorious national security apparatus. Nor did he order the release of any political prisoners, though most of them are civilians.

"Except for the verbal announcement of the lifting of the martial law, he did nothing at all."

The Syrian leadership is actually acting like the Libyan regime, trying to discredit opponents and their motives - calling them "Salafis", "terrorists", "infiltrators" or "saboteurs" - as a way of justifying military action to crush them.

"There is no political regime in the world today that controls people's lives the way the Syrian regime does. The news is that this whole notion of 'the iron fist' is a thing of the past."


Rebellious spark flares in Mauritania

Protests in Mauritania have been going on for weeks but spilled into Zuweirat, the country's "mineral capital", only last Monday, when about 4,000 workers took to the streets to protest working conditions at the National Industry and Mines Company, reported the pan-Arab Al Quds al Arabi newspaper.

Protests for political and social justice started in back in January, much in the same way they started in other parts of the Arab world earlier this year.

The General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers said in a statement this week that the demonstrators in Zuweirat were "brutally repressed" by the police who used tear gas to disperse the crowd. The workers at the National Industry and Mines Company were protesting low wages and the instability of their employment status, urging the government in the capital Nouakchott "to take immediate action" and honour previously made promises.

Meanwhile, young protesters in the capital, who have been calling regime change, continued their sit-in in front of the police headquarters, demanding the release of 20 of their comrades.

In a statement on Monday, the youth movement in Mauritania said: "The regime of the ruling clique of coup generals confirms day after day their criminal, smug and insolent attitude towards the legitimate demands of the Mauritanian people."


The US will not lead response in Syria

The US response to the events in Syria is escalating, observed the columnist Satea Noureddin in the Lebanese Assafir daily.

In no way can it be compared to the Arab, Turkish or Iranian reactions that remain cloaked in relation with the regime and the people.

Between the first condemnations that distributed the blame between the regime and the opposition alike and the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions, the Americans have gone a long way. Nonetheless, their positions are still foggy at best.

The US is no longer the world's policeman nor is it its spiritual or political leader. Its reticence to partake directly in the Libyan war and the Yemeni crisis proves that there are new limitations to the US military, political and economic power. These same limitations are undoubtedly governing the current US strategy about the Syrian dilemma.

"Under no circumstances will the US get to the point of calling for a regime overthrow in Syria. Even if the situation got out of hand, the US will not be at the forefront of any campaign in Damascus, as it has no oil interests and the situation doesn't pose any major regional threats that necessitate direct US interference."

The US attitude towards Syria is indeed escalating, but it will not resolve the situation or in any way influence the regime or the street's behaviour.


Qaddafi will be hunted down sooner or later

Televised scenes of recent devastation in the Libyan city of Misurata conjure up images of German or British cities during the Second World War, commented Mazen Hammad, a columnist with the Qatari Al Watan daily.

Monday night, Nato aircraft bombed Colonel Qaddafi's Tripoli headquarters. The raid targeted Col Qaddafi in person as the alliance came to the realisation that he, individually, is the cause of the crisis that can only end with his obliteration.

The end to the ongoing crisis is looming, although it is still too early to predict an approximate time for it as long as Col Qaddafi remains alive and capable of managing a war against the people of Libya and the rebels in all four directions.

"Since the dictator's end is inevitable, bloodshed and destruction could be avoided should Col Qaddafi choose to step down."

It is unclear whether the offer of a safe exit for the colonel and his family is still on the table, but what is clear is that this is the only option he should be considering if he wishes to get away with his life.

"Col Qaddafi must realise that he isn't immortal and that his end is near. The difference is in the price that his people would have to pay before he is finally hunted down."


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk