x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Gulf states could turn the tide in Syria

The Arab League and should take action in light of the chemical-weapons attack in Syria, an Arabic-language columnist says. Other topics: Egypt's writing on the wall and true nature of democracy.

Effective support from Gulf states would turn tide of Syrian war in favour of the opposition

Now that Bashar Al Assad has unleashed chemical weapons, Arab countries must take their obligation to save the Syrian people from his atrocities more seriously, said the columnist Khaled Al Hurub in the Abu Dhabi-based daily Al Ittihad.

"It is no longer possible from the ethical, political, religious and humanitarian points of view to maintain the same ineffective Arab policies towards the crime in Syria," the writer noted.

"The Arab and international inability in this issue, due to Moscow's blatant veto over any UN resolution against Mr Al Assad, can no longer be tolerated."

International politics require regional neighbours to resort to deterrence mechanisms against criminal regimes without having to go through UN Security Council procedures that are often disabled by vetoes and conflicting interests, the columnist said.

Regional organisations shoulder the responsibility of dealing with regional issues and attempting to resolve them before they are submitted to the Security Council. Hence, theoretically, the Syrian conflict and the tragedy of its people are the responsibility of the Arab League before any other international body.

"The UN Security Council scandalously failed to save the Syrian people and the Arab League must take charge of the issue once again, and move outside the confines of the Security Council and the interests of Western states, which contribute to prolonging the massacre," the writer said.

The Arab body must look into a solution independent of the low ceiling for support determined by the US and the West.

"It is true that the West didn't entertain friendly relations with the Assad regime, nonetheless, many factors played in favour of the regime and constrained the West's support for the revolution in Syria," the writer said.

The main factor that determines the western, and mainly the US, stance on Syria is the safety and security of Israel. Washington fears that a post-Assad Syria maybe be controlled by radical Islamists who are more aggressive towards Israel.

The Assad regime recognised the West's hesitancy and seized the opportunity to regroup and drag the opposition into armed confrontations, which justify any bloody offensives to end it.

"In truth, it is the Gulf States position in particular that needs to be reviewed. The powerful political, media and diplomatic support should be bolstered with efficient support on the battlefield that would eventually change the power balance," he said.

The Gulf states powerful and effective support for General El Sisi and the transitional government in Egypt clashed with the western stance regarding the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi. Gulf States didn't observe any lines imposed by the West in this matter and their support did bring about change. Why not repeat the same stance in Syria?

The same old story on an Egyptian wall

On a Cairo street, amid the crackdown of the military which took control after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, a youngster from the January 25 revolution stood next to a wall and wrote "Mubarak is Tantawi", Egyptian poet Abderrahman Youssef wrote in the Cairo-based Al Shorouk.

"I pass almost daily by this wall, and I say to myself - as I used to say when Hussein Tantawi was head of the military council - 'You're right.' There is no difference between the deposed president Mubarak and Field Marshal Tantawi," the poet said.

Presidential elections brought a civil president to power. The days passed and the thoughtless constitutional declaration was issued, without Mohammed Morsi attempting to back off, causing serious divisions.

The writer added: "Weeks later, as I passed by that wall, I found that someone had volunteered to add something to the old sentence: 'Mubarak is Tantawi is Morsi'. I said: 'You're right.'"

The military council headed by Mr Tantawi betrayed the trust and shed blood, and Mr Morsi violated the mandate he was given through the ballot box. The same sins are being repeated now, with the current authority trying to bring back the old regime.

The writer concluded: "I passed by the same wall and read the sentence ... and now I'm asking myself: 'Is my handwriting that distinct that they will know that I'm the one who wrote the new name?'"

Free market is pivotal to a true democracy

If freedom, justice, the rule of law and power alternation are basic components of democracy, free-market institutions with a commitment to social justice are a prerequisite for steering towards a successful democracy, Amr Hamzawy wrote in the Egyptian paper Al Shorouk.

Freedom here translates into the laissez faire principle; justice means citizens are given equal opportunities to participate in economic life with minimal state intervention; rule of law guarantees fair competition, fights monopoly and abuse of authority; and power alternation translates into the economic movement and the associated change in wealth distribution and social status.

When the economy is in decline, power is concentrated in the hands of a few, monopolies are widespread and there are restrictions on individual freedom, any talk about democracy becomes meaningless, even if political freedom and rights and free elections are present.

The economic system which best suits democracy is the one that translates those values into free-market intuitions combined with guarantees for social justice.

Social justice is guaranteed under democracies through the basic rights of housing, education, health care, and benefits for poverty, unemployment, disability, pensions and insurance.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk