x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Editorials in Arab newspapers comment on Deraa and Egypt

Editorials in Arab newspapers comment on Daraa as a symbol of Syrian protest, Egypt's new neutral stance, Nato's need to get serious about Libya and Israel's fear of change.

Deraa has become a lesson for Syrians

The tragic situation in Deraa confirms that the Syrian authorities aren't seeking to end the protests in the town, but to make it a lesson and an example for all other protesters throughout the country, observed the columnist Abdulrahman al Rashid for the pan-Arab Asharq al Awsat daily.

All reports seem to support this theory. The situation in the small town is precarious, with dead bodies in the streets and many wounded left without medical care. Hundreds of young men have been taken into custody. Water, electricity and all access to food and medicine have been cut off.

"The Syrian regime is mistaken. With all the sympathy it has sparked among the Syrian people, this marginal border town could prove to be the Achilles' heel to its strong command in Damascus."

The ongoing events in Deraa have incited waves of protest and condemnation across Syria and the Arab world. The regime's aim is to crush the town's people, although official statements insist that protesters in Deraa are a just few infiltrators.

We are aware that the Syrian authorities are waging a battle of survival. But if the regime is to survive the deluge of change coming its way, it will have to ease its grip on the country. A vast reform programme must be announced. Only then would the regime stand a chance to repair what it has itself destroyed.


New Egyptian political stance is neutral

The long-awaited and much-debated Egyptian-engineered accord between feuding Palestinian factions is now a reality that did not fail to surprise, observed the columnist Daoud al Sharyan in Al Hayat daily.

There is no doubt that the political developments that are taking the Arab region by storm drove the Palestinians to review their conflict. But, more likely, it was the new direction in Egyptian policy towards the Palestinian situation that drove the factions into motion. Cairo is now demonstrating more openness towards Hamas, especially since Palestinian internal dissent affects its national security. Therefore, Egypt is seeking to end the discord at its borders.

The crucial development that the accord embodies cannot be interpreted as a result of the regressing Syrian role. Rather, it is evidence of the revival of the old Egyptian diplomacy. Washington's reaction allows for such an explanation. Despite the White House's reiteration of its traditional attitude towards Hamas, it didn't reject the agreement.

"The Egyptian role under former president Mubarak contributed to the perpetuation of the disagreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Instead of being a mediator, Egypt took the role of accomplice."

However, it looks as if the new command in Cairo has decided to remain at equal distance to all parties and to return to its traditional neutral position.


Nato must take Libyan battle more seriously

The Libyan crisis has once again reached a standstill amid increasing defiance by the Qaddafi regime against Nato and the world, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari Al Watan daily.

Colonel Qaddafi's son, Seif al Islam, has vowed never to surrender, not even if the raids went on for 40 years. As unrealistic as such rhetoric is, it does nonetheless reflect a blatant disregard towards Nato and the international community. This must prompt the western alliance to change its strategy in dealing with the colonel and his family.

Although the Libyan regime has raised the bar of challenge, the Nato command has shown no inclination to change its policy.

"Seif al Islam's threat proves that the departure of the regime will not be speedy as most observers thought. The current developments in Libya will certainly lead to the segmentation of the country into an east Libya with Benghazi as its capital and a west Libya with Tripoli as a capital."

Nato forces are required to heed the cries of the rebels and the civilians whose casualties are estimated at 10,000. An immediate return to the UN Security Council is required, not to impose vain sanctions on the Libyan regime, but to expand and facilitate the mobility granted to the alliance, which would permit for intensified air raids against Col Qaddafi's bases.


Israel fearful of the changes in the region

With the accord between Fatah and Hamas, Israel is starting to feel the results of the toppling of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak, wrote the columnist Samih Saab in the Lebanese newspaper Annahar.

There has been talk of a permanent re-opening of the Rafah crossing in a clear Egyptian effort to start a new page with all of the region's states, including Iran.

These developments prove that Israel's discomfort towards the removal of Mr Mubarak was justified. They confirm that the wave of protests in the Arab world is bound, sooner or later, to reach the shores of Israel and affect its future. Israel's main concern at the moment is that the effects of protests don't spill into its territories.

The accord between Hamas and Fatah was a direct result of the change in Egypt and it succeeded in frightening Israel's leaders.

The Israeli president, Shimon Peres, saw the accord as a fatal error that would deter the establishment of a Palestinian state, while the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Abbas a choice between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas.

The more pro-Palestinian positions the wave of change produces, the bigger the Israeli fear will become of this new force taking shape in the region.


* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem