x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

For Syria, the choice is dialogue or stalemate

The example of Yemen and Libya should be a warning to everyone in Syrian, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other subjects today: Yemen and Mr Saleh; South Sudan and other minorities; and Egypt and Essam Sharaf.

Syrians need dialogue to end their crisis

If the ultimate goal of the rallies in Syria is political change so as to enjoy freedom and install a democratic system, this should come as a result of a consensus, the Omani newspaper Al Watan in its editorial.

As long as the regime holds to its belief, it has the military might to win the battle. The opposition meanwhile depends on foreign support. This means a solution to the present impasse is unlikely.

Experiences in Libya and Yemen have just proved that neither option is helpful in settling a crisis. The two sides to disputes in those countries have only caused more fatalities while entrenching their antagonisms.

In Syria, people will continue to pay the price in a conflict that looks more like a fight for power than a genuine effort to build a modern state which answers the expectations of Syrians.

People look forward to seeing true reforms, no matter who is in power. Yet they would like to have an effective part in political decision making and be responsible for choosing their rulers.

Now every party should show a positive attitude towards the dialogue to consolidate the chance for success.

Most importantly, both sides should make concessions for the sake of achieving a peaceful transition towards a pluralistic civil state, one that is open to the demands of its people.




Yemenis are aware of regime's manoeuvres

"It was shocking how the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, turned up in public. Despite all the arrangements put in place to ensure an acceptable media appearance, the truth is we were looking at the remains of a person, almost paralysed," observed columnist Yaser al Zaatra in the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor.

Mr Saleh showed up, after a long wait and controversy about his health, to speak about a solution based on peaceful rotation of power.

The key to this, he said, is partnership involving all Yemeni political forces. He sounded as if he was still ignoring the demands of Yemenis that he step down.

"How could Yemenis accept him any more after all that happened, and the reports that he will come back to Yemen on July 17, the date that commemorates his accession to power?"

Yemenis have been wonderfully persistent in their demands that the regime go. No one wants him to come back, or to hand power to his relatives, who have benefited hugely from the regime and whose survival relies on it.

This closed group is probably behind his public appearance, and probably dictated what he should say. But thousands of Yemenis rallied last Friday in protest against this "custody".

People turn out to be fully aware of the inside political parties, mainly the Joint Meeting Parties, that stood by Mr Saleh and insist on maintaining their privileges.


South Sudan no model for other minorities

"The separation of South Sudan from the Arab world is neither tragic nor inspiring for other minorities living in the region, pointed out Satea Noureddine in an opinion piece for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

The region suffers already from many ills that are more serious than separation, said the writer.

True, around the Arab world the birth of a new state may entice many minorities which have fought for independence or self-determination to intensify their demands. Yet, unlike the southern Sudanese, none of these has succeeded so far.

South Sudan fought for independence because of tyranny. Their separation was not a grant but an achievement, which forced the North to recognise it.

Elsewhere, however, the dream of independence is no longer attractive to, for example, Lebanese Christians, most Iraqi Kurds, Egyptian Copts, Southern Yemenis or Amazighs in Algeria and Morocco.

These communities have opted for other alternatives, benefiting from freedoms and the chance to engage in politics. They are also economically active.

Juba, the capital of South Sudan, is not going to be a model for minorities in the Arab world.

Rather, it will be an emblem of failure of the Muslim and Arab unity project. Khartoum has handled ethnic diversity poorly in the last two decades.



Egypt needs a strong government

The Egyptian government of Essam Sharaf, the first after the revolution, was given confidence and time on the understanding that it could cope with the requirements of the country.

Yet the government has ignored the fact that it had been formed to handle the priorities set by the revolution, the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram noted in its editorial.

Instead, it has lent itself to a rotten bureaucracy, increasingly detaching itself from reality. Some figurehead ministers who have been brought in are not doing what "the street" demands.

The government also failed to clean up the ministry of interior, or to prosecute those responsible for killing protesters. This alone is enough to anger the public.

Meanwhile, the trials of many symbols of the former regime were not made public, as had been expected.

Here Egyptians blame the government for being too lenient, and many see this as disrespectful of the martyrs' families and the people.

All of these factors led to the reactions we have seen in Tahrir square and other cities throughout Egypt recently.

To curb this situation, Egypt needs urgently a strong government to tackle people's immediate concerns, in order to restore confidence.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi