x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Egypt and media make up bomb theories

A daily roundup of the region's press translated from Arabic newspapers.

Media will debate at length the accusation by Egyptian authorities that the Palestinian Army of Islam (PAI) was involved in the bombing of the Coptic Church in the city of Alexandria, said the columnist Mohammed Salah in a comment article for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

First, the media rushed to conclude that the perpetrators were from Afghanistan involving al Qa'eda, and the attack was a result of a sectarian congestion between Muslims and Copts. This was followed by a wide campaign by the Egyptian press, which has published false information, attributing it to witnesses. The latter claimed they saw a person of Afghan features in the vicinity of the church just before the attack.

As the new set of accusations suggests, the media will continue fabricating new scenarios but offer contradicting information. Of course, the Egyptian authorities will not reveal what they know until they refer the case to the court. In the meantime, the media will probe PAI's history and its relations with other organisations. It may bring Hamas into question, although both movements have contradictory goals.

Experts and analysts will be invited to have their say and suggest ways to counter PAI, as well as devise strategies to chase members of the group. In an almost scripted scenario, the government, with the help of media outlets, will disclose how it has identified the parties behind the bombing.

Hizbollah on a razor's edge ahead of verdict

Since Hizbollah has launched its "constitutional" coup against the government of former premier Saad Hariri, there has been a fundamental question about the possible Israeli reaction to any eventual change in the nature of government in Lebanon, noted Satea Noureddine in an opinion article for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

Many analysts pointed, however, to the assured position of the party and "the apparent lack of fear" of an eventual war on Lebanon. After all, Hizbollah could not undertake this political change without being sure that the reactions of the US and many other western capitals would be confined to statements of condemnation, no more, no less.

By the same token, the indictment verdict by the International Tribunal for Lebanon is less likely to affect the situation on the southern borders. It may rather, in the long term, contribute indirectly to stability there, as the US might ask Israel to follow up the court proceeding and wait for its primary verdicts.

The South of Lebanon will remain a shaky area, as it is always a site of military clashes and unfinished wars. Syria and Iran, for example, may still want to test the ability of the Israelis to resolve the 2006 conflict by trying to correct some regional facts inherited from the era of former US president George W Bush.

Research is the way towards knowledge

What are the factors that have crippled scientific research in the UAE? This question was posed by Dr Moza Ahmed al Abbar in a commentary for the UAE daily Al Bayan.

Without any noticeable research achievements it will be difficult to gain international attention, she writes.

We need to rise to the occasion to be able to catch up with other countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa, which have laid strong foundations for scientific research, she said.

"Views vary about the reasons for the decline of research in our country ...but I think this is because educational institutions have failed in integrating scientific research in their curriculums." Graduates most of the time lack research method skills, she adds.

This ability needs to be nurtured from early schooling, a task that should be monitored by a special body, which will devise a national academic strategy of short and long-terms. While doing this, research priorities should be identified in accordance to the immediate needs of the community development, be they economic, environmental, social, or technical.

These are broad areas that offer wide opportunities for research and analysis. To achieve the above, the state needs to provide scholarship for distinguished students to pursue further higher education, and allocate substantial funds to finance research projects.

Jumblatt weathers the political storm

"No one in Lebanon was surprised by the shift in position by Walid Jumblatt: from a rebel impelled to overthrow the Syrian regime and storm Hizbollah's missile stronghold to a supporter of Damascus and the resistance," observed Saad Mehio in an opinion piece in the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

A clairvoyant politician, the Druze leader, throughout his political career, was able to predict changes both in international and national politics. While the neoconservatives were in power, he did not hesitate to court US policies rather than yield to the authoritarian Syrian regime.

But as the former president George W Bush's administration was about to leave without achieving the mission he promised in Iran and Syria, Jumblatt reconsidered his views in the best interest of his community.

At times, he simply takes a neutral stance and watches the political scene from a distance, but at any moment he can take a position that changes the course of politics in Lebanon.

His pragmatic policies are timely and can help to defuse the current crisis. His manoeuvre may help Hizbollah and other opposition forces to alter the political equation peacefully without prejudice to the constitution.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi