x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Arabic newspapers comment on Syria's leadership, and Osama bin Laden

Arabic newspapers also comment on President Obama's speech and the potential for war in Sudan.

Time for Syria's true boss to now stand up

"Who is really running the show in Syria?" asked the columnist Abdelrahman al Rashed in the pan-Arab Asharq Al Awsat daily.

For years, many have been wondering whether Mr Bashar al Assad is the true governor of Syria or is he a mere facade to another individual or group in the regime.

Two opposing camps argue the theory that "Bashar doesn't rule". There are those who admire him and believe that such a civilised and temperate person cannot possibly be party to the accusations levelled at Syria, from the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri to the cold-blooded murder of hundreds of unarmed protesters. On the other hand, their are those who claim he is a powerless face.

"In truth, we only know what we see," said the writer. "The majority of evidence indicates that he is the true leader. At the same time, other evidence indicates the presence of other authority figures within the regime." Since the outbreak of the pro-democracy protests, and on more than one occasion, announcements have been made by certain officials only to be denied or contradicted by the president.

"No matter who the true ruler of Damascus is, Mr al Assad is the only person accountable to the people. Three months into the Syrian uprising, the one certainty is that political silence has done irreparable damage to the regime. It is time for the real president to stand up to save himself and his regime."

Enough fishing in murky waters

The posthumous Osama bin Laden taped message released earlier this week in which he praised the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions must not go unnoticed, noted the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

Although bin Laden didn't allege any role for al Qa'eda in the revolutions sweeping across the Arab world, he called upon all Muslims to benefit from this rare historical opportunity to carry out a more comprehensive Islamic uprising.

"Upon listening to the tape, it is safe to conclude that al Qa'eda is seeking to hijack the revolutionary achievements," commented the writer. "But, what is certain to Arab peoples and to the world is that these uprisings are genuine and they originated with, and were carried out by, the youth of the Arab nation, not al Qa'eda."

No other organisation, for that matter, had any role to play in the Arab spring. The attempt by al Qa'eda to ideologically endorse or to exploit this delicate transitory period in the Arab world is in vain.

Even in Yemen, once said to have fallen prey to the terrorist organisation, the glorious revolution is still going on without any mention of al Qa'eda,

"Let's leave the rebels to choose their future in these historical moments and enough trying to commandeer their efforts for the service of partisan categories or narrow ideologies," Hammad concluded.

Obama's farewell address to the region

It was the speech that has signalled the withdrawal of United States from the Middle East, wrote Satea Noureddin, a columnist for the Lebanese Assafir daily.

In his Thursday speech, Mr Obama mentioned several times that America has changed; it would no longer be the ally of dictators. It wants to depart from this part of the world leaving behind nations that have found its way to freedom and democracy.

Mr Obama declared US explicit intentions: America cannot sustain any more wars and military spending.

"America is no longer capable or eager to control two major oil countries, Iraq and Libya, that are being offered to it for cheap. It would rather leave the mission and the cost for the Europeans," the writer said.

Once its gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan begins next July, the US would depend more on its Arab and Muslim allies to contain the threat of radicalism, whether by way of democratic revolutions or systematic security campaigns aimed at eradicating them.

"The US seems to be backing off for its own economic and cultural reasons. It wants to test its ability to commit to positive neutrality in the favour of Arab peoples," said Noureddin. "The rhetoric of the Israeli right has finally triumphed and ousted the Americans from the Arab and Islamic worlds."


Drums of war sound once again in Sudan

As tensions escalate between north and south Sudan's armies following Friday's attacks in the contested Abyei border, it appears as if the drums of war have started beating once again in the country, commented the Emirati Akhbar al Arab daily in its editorial.

"Should war return to the Sudanese atmosphere, it would trudge with no clear end in sight."

The government in Khartoum is nervous about the repercussions of the separation scheduled to be carried out July 9. Returns on oil produced in the south will go in whole to that region, which denies north Sudan a substantial source of income and threatens to leave it in the throes of poverty.

In addition to financial tremors, the official separation of the south would raise tensions at border regions, already starting to take shape in Abyei and Kordovan.

"The language of war under the current circumstances doesn't benefit any of the two sister states. Just as the south isn't ready to get involved in a war that would destroy its chances for a clean start, the north too cannot sustain two wars at the same time, one in Darfur and another with the south."





* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem