x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Coexistence only way forward for Sudan

An Arab writer says that peace, stability and development in a nation can only be achieved through political, economic, and cultural unity and not through segmentation and sectarian and tribal divisions. Other Digest topics: Egypt, Lebanon.

How many times have the presidents of North and South Sudan pledged to turn over a new leaf in their relationship after having agreed on bilateral and political cooperation? That was the question posed by Amjad Arrar, a columnist in the Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.

Time and again the Sudanese people were fed delightful speeches about a better future and promises of reconciliation and development, but this was “nothing but fraudulent theatrical antics and political chatter” each time, he wrote.

Instead the so-called comprehensive peace agreement has completed the remaining leg of the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 between the United Kingdom and France, which divided Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire into areas of future British and French control or influence.

“[The Sudanese agreement] brought the already-divided Arab nation a new rift that materialised following a grinding war between the north and the south and skilful marginalisation practices by the successive governments in Khartoum,” the writer added.

None of the several accords brought the promised peace and development to either of the long-time rivals.

Peace, stability and development in a nation, even at the slightest levels, can be achieved only through political, economic, cultural and mental unity under the precept of coexistence, and surely not through further segmentation and sectarian and tribal divisions.

“The foolish among Arab politicians, intellectuals and the media have yet to understand that in this era of globalisation, nations derive their power from unity and mergers,” noted Arrar.

“Europe, despite the economic and political power of each of its individual states, has chosen the way of unity whereas the Arab countries that share a common origin, a common history and a common language are being divided – and yet have a mood of bizarre ecstasy about it.”

Promises are void if they aren’t substantiated by political will. But, alas, this is how political deception works. The poor leave their homes and towns and remain poor so leaders can stay in power where they manipulate crises and solutions in ways that best suit their ambitions.

It would be far better for Arabs to disregard the repetitive rhetoric of their leaders and their associates and heed the candid words of a simple Sudanese citizen who, when asked his opinion of his country’s segmentation, said: “There is no north without the south and vice versa. We are destined to live together.”

Arrar concluded: “The Sudanese and the world have only to look at the farce of Gaza and the West Bank in Palestine to learn a valuable lesson. We, Arabs, are masters of failed and miserable prototypes.”

Growing sensitivity over Egypt’s military

Friday’s satirical show Al Barnameg, hosted by Egyptian TV television satirist Bassem Youssuf, who returned for the third episode after months-long hiatus, was characterised by extreme caution as it addressed the army and Gen Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Even then the show has fuelled a backlash among some quarters, noted Fahmi Huwaidi in the Cairo-based newspaper Al Shorouk.

Only few hours after the show, a retired officer close to the military establishment said that the last programme triggered resentment among armed forces, the writer said.

This remark generated a few comments on Twitter. One user suggested that Bassem Yousuf was stabbing Egypt in the back, just as Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt’s former interim vice president, did when he resigned.

Signs of growing sensitivity towards Egypt’s army abound, with some people calling for its unique privileges and political independence. They want military leaders to become part of the political battle, which runs the risk of creating a state inside the state, the writer argued.

Some people have engaged in games of one-upmanship over the army not only among the army’s hardliners but even among some civilians who display blatant adulation to the military leaders, especially following reports that Gen Al Sisi will run for president. Articles that call for the army to stay away from politics are being banned.

Syrian conflict follows the Lebanese scenario

All signs indicate that the Syrian war is gradually following the Lebanese war, wrote Emile Khoury in the Lebanese newspaper Annhar.

The Syrian war is no longer solely Syrian. It is others’ war as well, just as the Lebanese war was, the writer noted.

All attempts, Arab and international, to end the conflict or reach a settlement, have failed. A similar thing happened in Lebanon, which led to a 15-year conflict until a US-Syrian deal was sealed.

Syria could follow a course similar to Lebanon’s from start to finish if a US-Iranian deal is concluded with approval from Russia and Israel, especially if the agreement manages to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The Geneva 2 conference for Syria could serve a role similar to that of the Taif conference for Lebanon. However, the conditions put forward by both the Syrian regime and opposition still prevent setting a final date for the meeting. But even if it is held, nothing guarantees its success unless its sessions continue until an agreement is reached, as it happened in Lebanon.

These preconditions may be hard to drop unless there is a shift in the balance of power on the ground. When that happened in Lebanon, stances changed.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk