x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Editorial calls on Nasrallah to drop support for Syrian regime

Arabic papers also discuss Netanyahu's denial of Palestinian rights, Qaddafi's future and Mubarak's trial.

Nasrallah should alter his stance on Syria

Few in the Arab and Muslim world would argue about the great achievements of Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizbollah, when his party drove the Israelis out from South Lebanon. Yet many would not agree with his selective attitude in dealing with Arab popular uprisings, commented Abdul Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

It is true that Mr Nasrallah strongly supported revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere, but he was reluctant to express similar view about Syria.

Many, indeed, criticised him following his speech Wednesday. He admitted that Syrian authorities had made mistakes in Lebanon, yet he called on the Lebanese not to interfere in what is going on in their northern neighbour.

He did not, however, advise his friends and allies in Damascus to stop the bloodshed. Nor did he show sympathy for the martyrs killed by Syrian security forces.

"We believe that it would be a good step if Mr Nasrallah had used his strong relations with the Syrian president to ask him to stop massacres from being committed every Friday. He should also encourage him to engage in a genuine national dialogue leading to serious reforms …

"He should know that Syria needs advice from its friends. If it continues to suppress protests, that will prompt new western military intervention in the regions, which would be a new catastrophe for all."

UN statehood measure could backfire

The speech by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the US Congress had more hype than new content, observed columnist Yaser al Zaatra in a commentary for the Jordanian newspaper Addustour.

Mr Netanyahu was greeted by applause from both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, yet his peace proposal was void at the core. In fact, he did not suggest anything new: the same conditions and the same objections to Palestinian rights.

He said no to the right of refugees' return, no also to a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and no yet again to withdrawal from existing settlements. And any potential Palestinian state, he said, should be demilitarised.

As the Israeli attitude has not changed and is unlikely to change in the near future it is worthwhile to ask ourselves: how will the Palestinian Authority respond to Mr Netanyahu and the US attitude, supportive to Israel, after the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas?

We can expect more efforts by Israel and the US, through the Quartet, to force Hamas to recognise its conditions. So the reconciliation has not helped Hamas.

The only right response to Mr Netanyahu now is to revolt, taking advantage of the Arab spring. This way, Palestinians can win Arab and Muslim support. The other option - seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state may backfire by prolonging the border dispute, which Israel wants.

Was Saleh influenced by Mubarak's fate?

"I think the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, heard one of the opposition on TV after he agreed to step down from office, saying 'this is not enough. He must be prosecuted wherever he goes'," wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed in an opinion piece for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The opposition spokesman, the writer continued, "also cited a statement attributed to Amnesty International that any GCC agreement with Saleh would not exempt him from responsibility."

Perhaps this what dissuaded Mr Saleh from proceeding further with his decision to resign. This would lead us to ask: what in the world will convince a head of state to step down if he knows he will face a terrible fate, while he can still either refuse or confront?

Is not it better for him to die standing on his feet than to die tied to a bed in a prison hospital or behind bars?

There is no doubt that the news of the imprisonment of Mr Mubarak has changed the concept of peaceful revolutions. This probably has made Col Muammar Qaddafi to hold on power, while he still possesses an arsenal of weapons that he can use.

Likewise, Mr Saleh believes he can mobilise tens of thousands of supporters every Friday.

The same is true for Syria, where the regime is unlikely to quit just because peaceful demonstrations fill the streets.



Qaddafi's only option now is to get out

"The world has started to recognise officially the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council, which is fighting to liberate Tripoli from the grip of Col Muammar Qaddafi … who insists on staying in power and being responsible for destruction," noted the Emirati newspaper Akhbar al Arab in a leader article.

The conflict could cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars, in addition to great loss in life and the spread of fear and psychological distress, which cannot be measured.

Col Qaddafi should realise the end of his rule is approaching as Nato has escalated air strikes, while his own forces can only manoeuvre narrowly.

He should know that some European countries are committed to continuing their military action against him until his regime breaks down completely, or until he and his family leave Libya for good. The latter is the preferred option.

Col Qaddafi has no more choice. He should step down quickly, since there is no way for Libyans and the international community to retreat.

The National Transitional Council is increasingly seen as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and as the valid alternative to the embattled regime in this transitional period.


* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi