x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Egyptian NGOs above the law?

Arabic newspapers say Iran's military posturing is futile in the sanction crisis the mullas brought on their country. They also say militia fights threaten the future of Libya and highlight the international reaction to Cairo's crackdown on NGOs.

Iran's military posturing will not help it escape the sanctions crisis it has brought upon itself

Iran is inching closer to the moment of truth or more precisely, to the day that will change its course for the coming decades, columnist Satea Noureddine argued in the Lebanese daily Assafir.

"The image of a strong and able state that the Iranian leadership has tried to project, ever since the US began its military campaign on the Islamic world following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, is now quivering," he said. "All the military parades that Iran could stage at this point wouldn't serve to bolster its image or scare the United States into negotiations."

Iran must decide on its own whether it will continue to believe that it is America's competitor for power in the Islamic world and the Arab region, or a mere modest state facing multiple internal challenges.

The Iranians must choose between downsizing their ambitions and adapting to reality or finding bigger and better strengths that allow them to exert the pressure they want on Washington.

"Iran failed in warding off international sanctions. Some say that the decision-makers in Iran don't mind them, since they see the external siege as good for the survival and stability of their regime. Iran didn't make any serious efforts to prevent sanctions, through making concessions in its nuclear programme or through talks."

The Persian state is committing a grave mistake at present by taking advantage of the US withdrawal from Iraq and its gradual departure from Afghanistan to proclaim itself as the only great power in the region. The timing and the method were off. Worse are the unnecessary and unconvincing displays of force.

"At times, it seems as if Tehran is running without a defined system or state institutions," the columnist wrote. It was evident that Iran's provocations and challenges wouldn't succeed in pulling the West into negotiations. On the contrary, they will only provoke more sanctions that could eventually bring Iran's economy to a halt.

"It would be insane if the Iranian government believes that the West is actually apprehensive of its threats to close the Hormuz Strait or that it would hesitate to impose additional sanctions that target the oil and gas sector. It is after all the same West that disabled the oil and gas sector in Iraq for more than two decades, although Iraq's quota in the global market is much more considerable than Iran's," he added.

The West may not need to relinquish the less than three million barrels of Iranian crude oil that is exported mainly to Asian markets.

The financial sanctions alone could be sufficient to stoke a popular uprising against an ebbing regime that has yet to take notice that its battles are at an end no matter how hard it tries to make up for them with "fireworks" in the Gulf skies.

Militia fights threaten the future of Libya

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council has warned that possible civil strife could grow from widespread chaos and the proliferation of armed militias, the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi in an editorial.

Such a warning must be taken seriously, the editorial said, coming from for the country's top official, who is well aware of the facts on the ground.

Recent bloody altercations in Tripoli, between Misurata militants and Council forces, are focusing the world's attention on the chaos that has engulfed the capital city and many other parts of Libya since the revolution.

Four main militias control the country at the moment. Meanwhile, residents of the capital have been voicing their exasperation with armed manifestations and security blockades.

"In the absence of national reconciliation it isn't unlikely that the remnants of the former regime will try to rebuild their ranks. The armed chaos and the altercations among the rebels provide them with the perfect climate to orchestrate a bloody return to the political scene."

"Libya needs a charismatic leader who could impose respect for the state and its institutions and guarantee the security of all," opined the paper. "It is true that the new system of rule is still young and it is too early to pass judgement at the moment, but the present reality doesn't augur a peaceful future for Libya."

Civil organisations above Egypt's law

All hell broke loose when the Egyptian judiciary moved to protect the law and the country's sovereignty by ordering inspections over 17 different NGOs operating in the country. In reaction, almost immediately, the US threatened to stop all aid to Egypt unless the inspection campaign was cancelled, said Amjad Arrar, a columnist with the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

Germany too joined the US in pressuring the Egyptian government and the ruling military council to allow the civil organisations to work freely. The EU and various world institutions defended the rights of the NGOs in Egypt, despite the fact that the activities and the operations of these organisations require massive financing from these Western countries that are all experiencing severe financial crises.

"Civil organisations have every right to operate freely and within the confines of the law, but at the same times, they are obligated to abide by the principles of transparency. Many NGOs across the world are operating as spying agencies and saboteurs at the service of colonial agendas," said the writer.

The writer wonders why the US came to the defence of the organisations while shutting down or freezing the assets of others for their alleged terrorist and money laundering activities.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem