x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Editorials in Arab newspapers comment on Lebanon and Yemen

Editorials in Arab newspapers also comment on public health policy in the UAE, and what might happen in Syria.

Protecting public health must come first

"Except the UAE, all other GCC countries have accredited health centres in [foreign] workers' countries of origin to conduct necessary medical checks and issue fitness certificates," commented Sami al Reyami in a leader article for the UAE newspaper Emarat al Youm. "Lack of a similar system in the UAE … might have allowed many serious contagious diseases to enter the country."

Medical examination [rules] for newcomers have been a threat to national health security. Most workers used to wait a month or so before their first medical check. Imagine the situation if a new arrival is infected.

The Ministerial Council for Services did right on Sunday by approving a law to require expatriates to get a medical check in their home country and another on UAE arrival - plus another for renewal of a residency visa. It was a good and smart decision.

To better implement the resolution, however, it is necessary to follow methods used in other GCC countries, which are ahead of us in this. In particular, there is a need to designate specific medical centres after making sure they meet all requirements and are known for their credibility.

For further assurance, expatriates from some countries should also be required to undergo medical tests right after they come back from long holidays.




Arab media did poorly on Lebanon protests

The Arab media have been subjective in dealing with the Arab spring, which causes them to fail in reporting facts fairly, commented Dr Abdulaziz al Mqallah in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Al Arab.

Being less than professional in handling the news of Arab uprisings, the Arab media also fail to convey a credible message, which drives people to seek information elsewhere.

Lebanon is an example: the media have turned a blind eye to political and social protests demanding abolition of the sectarian system. The Lebanese, like their counterparts around the Arab region, also called for freedom and radical political reforms.

Popular movements in Lebanon were marked by calls for surmounting internal sectarian divisions as a first step to building a true civil and democratic state based on justice and equal citizenship rights. Recently, more Lebanese have grown convinced that the quota system has weakened the sense of belonging to a nation.

"Truly, I was thrilled by the Lebanese demonstrations, which made me recall the contribution of Lebanon in promoting Arab nationalism over the last two centuries. I particularly pondered the efforts of its rational thinkers, who had endeavoured to unite the Arab world against foreign ambitions."

All of this, unfortunately, was overlooked by the Arab media.


Al Assad might face a fate like Qaddafi's

Excluding the Syrian president, Bashar al Assad, from US sanctions conveys a significant message, that there is still a chance for him to escape the influence of his close assistants and embark on necessary reforms, observed Uraib al Rantawi in a commentary for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor.

Al Assad seems unmindful of the US warnings, even though the Obama administration has imposed sanctions against many Syrian top officials from his inner circle. By continuing his clampdown on protests, he took the same path as that of Col Muammar Qaddafi. Al Assad continues to deny the demands of demonstrators, favouring security solutions and giving Syrians no alternatives to consider.

That means the US might build a case against al Assad in the same away as it did against Qaddafi. It had given the Libyan leader a grace period to reconsider his attitude, but he remained intransigent. Then the US proceeded to military action. And the more al Qaddafi resists, the more he and his family members have become direct target of air raids.

The same scenario can gradually be replicated in Syria. Although Washington has not yet asked al Assad to step down, it is exerting some kind of initial diplomatic pressure. This can take another turn if al Assad insists on his present policy.




Playing for time is not in Yemen's interest

Various Yemeni leaders are still playing for time, to the detriment of the nation's interests and the people's future, noted the Saudi newspaper Al Jazirah in its editorial.

But time is not really working in favour of anyone. This is because the prevailing indecisive attitude might only lead to more bloodshed, harm an already dilapidated national economy, and worsen existing services.

It is worthwhile mentioning that one of the factors that sparked the unrest in Yemen was a desire by Yemenis to improve their living conditions, and to see the introduction of political and democratic reforms.

However, if the present situation persists, the crisis will reach a magnitude so great that it will be hard to solve.

This paper believes that the delay in signing the GCC initiative is a result of a set of conditions that different parties have imposed in order to buy time or to strengthen their position, and that this will only lead to further negotiation setbacks.

As Yemen does not have much time to spare, a decision should be reached as quickly as possible to spare the country further difficulties.





* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi