x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Editorials in Arab newspapers comment on Syria and Iraq

Editorials in Arab newspapers also comment on challenges facing the Palestinians and population imbalance in the UAE.

A disappointment for Syria on three fronts

Syrian leaders must be shocked at the unexpected conduct of those who, just recently, were their trusted regional allies, observed Tareq al Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based Asharq al Awsat daily.

In reaction to the ongoing unrest in Syria, Turkey has repeatedly and publicly condemned Bashar al Assad's security clampdown. Qatar's reaction to the eventsin Syria was also negative. As for Hamas, it took a sharp turn by heading to Cairo to finalise reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority, taking advantage of the Syrian command's preoccupation with extinguishing the spreading fires of the uprising.

"The Syrian government must have discovered the failure of its foreign policies, not only because of the positions of those allies, but more importantly, because it neglected the local factor in foreign affairs. What gain could Syria claim from a burdensome alliance with Iran and where have all its allies gone?"

Syrian disappointment reflects the realism of Arab political management. No state wants to be seen siding with a regime struggling in a conflict with its own people. The fall of the Egyptian regime brought down with it the myth of the iron regime. Furthermore, the sheer atrocities in Syria puts Arab governments at a disadvantage with their own citizens.

"No government can openly condone such oppressive actions."


US-Iraq: who's got to compensate whom?

On April 30, the Iraqi parliament ratified a divisive agreement to pay $400 million in compensation to US citizens who had been treated cruelly by Iraqi forces on the eve of the US-led war against Iraq in 1991, wrote Abdulhussein Shaaban, a columnist with the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

Muqtada al Sadr bloc MPs left the room as soon as the agreement was put to vote. For its part, the US embassy in Baghdad said the ratification of the motion was an important step towards turning what it termed the page of Saddam Hussein's dreadful legacy.

"I can understand, on the human and legal levels, this claim for reparations," the columnist wrote. "It is the right of whoever has been harmed by the illegal acts of one state against another."

But this understanding turns sour, given the realisation that the entire people of Iraq have not yet been compensated for the assault that has exposed their country to grave looting and years of destruction.

"If it is the Iraqi government's decision to pay compensation in order to start a new page with the US, then a perplexing legal question arises: how is present-day Iraq paying - not without symbolism - for mistakes it had nothing to do with?"


Palestinian challenges for a better future

In a few days, Palestinians will commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the 1948 war that most refer to as "annakba" or "the calamity", noted the Emirati Al Bayan daily. But this year, a new reality is being forged.

The recent widely-hailed Fatah and Hamas rapprochement ushered in a new positive atmosphere to bury the hatchet and start forging the future. It is a bold first step that requires support if it were to go forward towards international recognition of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state in September. A fierce US-Israeli diplomatic attempt to prevent the recognition is expected.

It is most fortunate that this year's commemoration coincides with Egypt's return to its influential role in the region, which would provide firm support for neighbouring Palestine.

But wishes alone don't make a future. Many crucial steps must be taken, starting with a clean break from past dissent and strong Arab backing that would stand in the way of any domineering attempts in the region. The Palestinian state would also need substantial international relationships to endorse recognition.

"The remembrance of Annakba amid the winds of change sweeping across many countries in the region must also be an incentive to strive to bring Jerusalem back to the bosom of the new Arab world."


Emiratis must correct population imbalance

In a leader in the Emirati newspaper Al Emarat al Youm, the columnist Adel al Rashed wrote that the UAE demographic composition was the highlight of the last cabinet meeting that initiated a number of historic decisions.

The meeting was held after preparation that took into consideration political, economic and social factors. The initiatives envisaged are of a long-term nature to correct the existing imbalance in the UAE population. The priority is given to Emiratis, being the main and the most important element in their country in terms of their contribution to the economy and their influence in the general orientation of the UAE.

The decisions taken by the government are to bring hope and optimism by insisting on further empowering Emiratis, and placing them at the centre of any development process.

The nature of the demographic make-up has always been of concern for both the government and citizens.

So the implementaion of the latest decisions requires a comprehensive national campaign that will involve all sides in the decision making process. And everyone, from his position, should shoulder the responsibility in handling this issue.



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk