x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Demographics in the Gulf are a threat

In the commentary of the UAE newspaper Al Ittihad, Mohammed al Hammadi said that although there were strategies to curb the demographic imbalance in GCC countries, nothing concrete has been achieved.

In the commentary of the UAE newspaper Al Ittihad, Mohammed al Hammadi said that although there were strategies to curb the demographic imbalance in GCC countries, nothing concrete has been achieved.

Many in the region warned against the under-representation of nationals in relation to expatriates. Prince Turki Al Faisal, the chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, said "the current policies, if continued, will weaken our presence in our countries." This situation will also affect chances of nationals to get jobs.

Bahrain's former Labour Minister, Ali Fakhro, said: "The region would be on the verge of disaster more dangerous than a nuclear bomb, as we are facing changes that are likely to alter the demographic outlook of the region." Meanwhile, Dubai's police Commander in Chief, Major General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim famously summarised the situation: "We are building buildings but losing the Emirates."

Maj Gen Tamim believes that one day international laws might be imposed to naturalise residents. The late Saudi labour minister Ghazi al Gosaibi raised the same point and called for a quick solution to this impasse. The responsibility for this situation is shared by both individuals, who grow more dependent on expatriates, and the government, which is supposed to issue laws to contain the phenomenon of trading in entry and residence visas.


Iraq stands firm on American withdrawal

Although he acknowledged serious deficiencies in several security areas, the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki undermined any great need for the US army to stay, saying that the days when ethnic militias controlled the streets have gone, wrote Sam Daghir in a commentary for the Emirati newspaper Akhbar al Arab.

Mr al Maliki ruled out the possibility that the US army would continue to operate in Iraq by the end of 2011. He also stressed that his government together with Iraqi national security forces would be able to cope with the dangers that threaten Iraq's security. Mr al Maliki was speaking to The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier, the majority of Iraqis as well as Iraqi and US officials assumed that the American military presence would persist longer when the the crisis over the government broke. But Mr al Maliki emerged determined on this matter, saying: "the last American soldier shall leave Iraq according to the agreed schedule, and this will not be extended or amended." He added that he would not allow his country to ally with Iran, even though he admitted that there were internal calls supporting this tendency.

Mr al Maliki hailed his government's success in integrating militias tied to the Sadr Movement into Iraqi political life, saying they had committed to rejecting violence and embracing politics.Senior US officials have confirmed their intention to withdraw.


France puts regional aims on the US table

"Will president Nicolas Sarkozy and president Barack Obama next Monday in the White House discuss the issues of Lebanon, Syria, Iran and the peace process?" This question was posed by Randa Taqi al Dine in a comment article for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

Of course, there are several topics that are of interest to Mr Sarkozy, which include the economic crisis, given his roles as a head of the G20 and the G8. He is keen to succeed in this mission because it is likely to reinforce his profile in the upcoming French presidential elections.

Mr Sarkozy would also like for France to have a say in the Middle East peace process on both the Israeli-Palestinian and the Israeli-Syrian tracks. In this regard, he reiterated that the fundamentals of peace are known, but the problem lies in the current approach to negotiations. And for this reason, he would like summon for an international conference to follow up the peace process and put more pressure on parties to conflict.

The two head of states are likely to examine the latest developments about the International Tribunal for Lebanon and its repercussions on the political situation in Lebanon and Syria. France would like to help Lebanon avoid new security tension ahead of any condemnatory verdict.


Moroccan electoral system in disarray

In an opinion piece in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat, Saeed ben al Alaoui questioned whether the multiparty system in Morocco, about 30 parties, reflects a healthy political situation or is symptomatic of fragmentation.

Some observers find this a normal outcome of existing laws, which do not restrict the creation of political parties as long as they are compliant with the constitution. The latter only prohibits parties founded on racial, regional or religious grounds. These restrictions are believed to threaten territorial and religious integrity.

Others consider the present partisan state in the country as unhealthy, as many parties aim to benefit from state funds and election endorsements, as local laws require parliamentarian election candidates to be members of a political party, not to mention the social prestige leaders enjoy.

This explains why greater sections of Moroccans have abstained from political participation as is evidenced by the low voter turnout in successive elections. A pattern can be drawn. The more parties have increased in number, the lower the election turnout is. And in the last parliamentary vote three years ago, 30 parties entered elections, but their agendas were almost identical.