x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Assad dismissive of international community

Arabic editorials also comment on the dominance of the English language in the UAE and the political situation in the "new Iraq".

The Assad regime has made mockery of its foes, leaving no choice but to arm the opposition

One of the anecdotes of the ongoing Syrian crisis is that warnings are being issued to countries that are supporting the Syrian people at a time when no one has done anything to stop those countries that have been supplying the regime's forces with arms, said the columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

"Diplomatic efforts that should have been directed at besieging the Syrian regime are instead aimed in the reverse direction," he added.

Syria and its allies are terrorising and pursuing states that sympathise with the rebellion such as Turkey, Saudi and Qatar, warning them against arming the opposition.

The weapons at the disposal of the opposition are limited with the exception of a supply of advanced equipment that the rebels were able to confiscate from a government warehouse more than two months ago as well as the arms they manage to seize from army troops attacking neighbourhoods.

"The opposition forces that are combating the Syrian regime in Homs, Hama, Rif Dimashq and Deraa are all Syrian residents of these areas. And the reality is that with their limited weapons, they were able to shake this Arab military power," opined the columnist.

The new transformation in the course of the battle on the ground is that the regime is purposely raising the level of daily atrocities. The goal was to embarrass the regime and compel it to agree to extensive political reforms but now it has embarrassed the international community instead. The regime will continue to destroy and kill even more gruesomely until the international community retracts its demands and restricts them to no more than ending the humanitarian crisis.

"But how could regional and other concerned powers put an end to the regime's atrocities that are guaranteed to go on even if the revolution were to be halted?" asked Al Rashed. "Providing people with weapons is a necessity to deter the regime's ferocious apparatus. Political initiatives are of little effect at this point; the regime will not stop until whole regions are wiped out and tens of thousands more are killed."

Only increased internal pressure on the regime would push it to make real concessions. The Assad regime's forces will continue to massacre people not only in order to get rid of the rebels, but also, and more importantly, to instil terror in the hearts of its people, for terror is the ruling style of choice in Syria.

The few countries that support the Syrian people have either to stay on the side while the regime slaughters the people, after which, it will grow into a regional ogre, or they can wait for an international resolution that gives them the right to offer direct support and tip the balance of power in favour of the people.

Arabic recedes as UAE 'dominant culture'

"We used to complain about the spread of a broken, hybrid form of Arabic that was spoken in the street and the marketplace mostly by Asian expatriates, but now it seems that even that Arabic pidgin will not hold up for long against the hegemony of English," wrote Ahmed Al Mansouri, an Emirati writer, in the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper Al Ittihad yesterday.

Emiratis made up 13 per cent of the total population in the UAE in 2010, the writer said. And even when you add up the various Arab communities living in the country, you get only a total of 36 per cent of the population who speak Arabic.

"Some might say: so what? This is how we've always been since the country was born, a minority coexisting with others in peace," the writer said.

"Sure, but what I want to draw attention to here is the shift that has happened in the dominant culture - from a dominant Arabic culture to a dominant globalised culture," he added, particularly one driven by the English language in almost all aspects of life.

Sociologically, it doesn't necessarily take a demographic majority to make a dominant culture. The UAE has succeeded, through its political and cultural institutions, to maintain Arabic culture as the dominant one. But English is overtaking it, in the bank and at the mall.


US invasion brought no peace to Iraq

They call it the "new Iraq", yet the country is still dysfunctional, ruled by the "moody and exclusionist" government of Nouri Al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, said the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi in an editorial yesterday.

Just one facet of the deplorable situation in Iraq today is the political crisis that erupted a couple of months ago after the fallout between the Iraqi vice president, Tariq Al Hashemi (a Sunni), and Mr Al Maliki (a Shiite) who accused him of plotting terrorist attacks in the country.

"Ten years of US occupation, and the situation in Iraq is so grim: services are extremely poor, security almost non-existent, and the whole political process is just too brittle," the paper said.

"Worse perhaps, corruption has hit a peak, making Iraq one of the most corrupt countries on earth according to Transparency International."

Mr Al Hashemi is now practically in exile in the Gulf, and there is an arrest warrant against him.

More embarrassingly, one of his security aides was arrested in Iraq and made to confess to plotting terrorist attacks on national television, in a scene that vividly called to mind the way the regime of Saddam Hussein used to deal with its enemies.

In all of this, where can you see a "new Iraq"?

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk