x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Differences between followers of Hizbollah and Assad regime fade

The elements that distinguish Hizbollah’s followers and those of the Syrian regime seem to be fading, writes Omar Qaddour in Al Hayat. Other Digest topics: Egypt and Ukraine reveal the hypocrisy of Europe and the US (Oraib Al Rantawi – Addustour), Yemen's situation calls for intervention (Al Khaleej)

The elements that distinguish Hizbollah’s followers and those of the Syrian regime seem to be fading as the war in Syria progresses. Leaderships of both have almost “merged” into one, suggesting that their respective followers belong to one and the same party confronting the same enemies, observed the columnist Omar Qaddour in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

Both parties tend to think that coexistence is impossible and that the conflict must now come to an end. “This idea is promoted by Hizbollah’s leadership and Bashar Al Assad’s regime as being the only viable option. Slogans promoting coexistence are absent from their political discourse”, wrote Qaddour.

The people they claim to represent are their victims, as they exploit their feelings and use them to legitimise their fight against other groups. The people they claim to represent suffer just like others. They are denied their basic rights and have no hope of change. A lot has been written about their agonies, but the situation remains the same.

In Lebanon, one often hears talk about liberating Shia from “Hizbollah”. In Syria, about liberating Alawites from the regime’s influence. Such views are unlikely to be well-received by the public on either side, as they steer clear of the interests that connect the people to their respective leaderships.

“Neither the number of coffins coming from the battle of Yabrood, nor those from the recent Israeli raid on Hizbollah’s posts on the Syrian-Lebanese border will change Hizbollah’s view on the war in Syria”, explained Qaddour.

Hizbollah is signalling its supporters that it has managed to establish itself as a force that cannot be “sidelined or marginalised under any circumstances”.

Looking into Hizbollah’s relationship with the public can help to better understand the Syrian regime’s followers.

In Lebanon, there is at least some degree of freedom that allows “sectarian” elements to dissociate themselves from such parties and criticise their ways. This would never happen in Syria because of a centralised system.

This war is unlikely to end in a “win-win” situation. Even if there is a cultural push such as these sectarian views, immediate results should not be expected. The idea is to bring all parties to agree to building a modern state.

The best outcome for Lebanon is that the Syrian regime falls. Reaching a political settlement with that regime will only drag Syria to something akin to the Lebanese stalemate.

Egypt and Ukraine show West’s hypocrisy

The events in Egypt and Ukraine reveal the hypocrisy of Europe and the US, argued Oraib Al Rantawi in the Jordanian newspaper Addustour.

The Ukrainian opposition has failed to gather a single “million- strong demonstration” against President Viktor Yanukovich. Reliable sources estimated protesters at about 50,000. Yet, western nations have not hesitated to approve the event as a legitimate popular uprising, recognising the new government and warning Russia against disrupting the democratic process in the country.

In Egypt, millions of protesters took to the streets on July 2013, and the West saw the event as a coup nonetheless, and took a few punitive measures against the new authorities, the writer noted.

In Ukraine, the elected president bowed to the European mediators: he concluded a deal with the opposition to return to the 2004 constitution and hold early elections, in which Russian acquiesce. However, the deal was broken the following day by the opposition. The West reneged on its mediation and swiftly welcomed the new Orange Revolution.

In Egypt, then-president Mohammed Morsi was not willing to compromise but the West did not pressure him to expedite the democratic transition.

Mr Yanukovych and Mr Morsi were both elected presidents who mishandled the government and antagonised much of the opposition. But the West reacted with double standards.

Yemen’s situation calls for intervention

Yemen continues to walk on a tight rope and it appears as if the results of the national dialogue require more substantial effort and patience to materialise, read yesterday’s editorial in the Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.

The bloody fighting that erupted on Friday north of the capital city Sanaa between the Yemeni army and Shiite Houthi fighters indicates that the journey towards recovery and stability in Yemen is still long and arduous. It suggests that the outcomes of the national dialogue are not enough to put an end to violence, division and extremism and to establish a system of rule.

Armed conflicts in the south of the country and movements aimed at subverting the proposed political system are other serious indications of what things could look like in the future.

To complicate matters, terrorist groups continue to wreak havoc in various areas of Yemen in addition to assassinations and kidnappings of politicians, military officials and diplomats.

“The efforts exerted so far at the regional and international levels within the framework of the Gulf initiative to bring democracy and stability to Yemen seem to be a mere exercise. There must be some defect in the outputs of the national dialogue that require adjustment,” the paper suggested.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk