x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Historic day for Saudi women, and all Saudis

Arabic newspapers say that Saleh wants to rule no matter what the consequences are, and that the Quartet intention is to buy Israel time to grab more land. The testimony of Egypt's Tantawi is a blow to the youth movement.

King Abdullah's made a bold decision to grant women the right to vote, run for municipal office and become members of the Shura Council - Saudi Arabia's advisory body - Hussein Shabakshi wrote in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat yesterday.

In a column entitled Congratulations to all Saudis, he wrote that the king's decision is a boost to "genuine moderation and the spirit of religious tolerance and social equality" in Saudi Arabia.

"The absence of women from the Shura Council has always been a prickly question. And most of those who tried to justify [the absence] never sounded like they were persuaded themselves."

Now with the prospective participation of women, the Shura Council and the municipal councils will become better-suited platforms for "a more credible" representation of social issues.

"The Saudi people are entering a new phase, one that is free from the mutual scepticism and caution that have characterised the components of Saudi society."

One of the key things that King Abdullah's decision has immediately achieved is the breaking of an old stereotype, now replaced by a new public image, one that is more in line with the high expectations of younger generations.

The Saudi people's spontaneous joy upon hearing the king's announcement came as further proof of their "thirst for social equality" and rejection of extremism.

Saleh simply wants to remain in power

Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime in Yemen has been manoeuvring for months now to buy time in power, wasting in the process precious opportunities that could have pulled the country away from its current trajectory toward destruction, the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej saidin its editorial yesterday.

The Gulf Cooperation Council's power-transfer initiative is one such opportunity. It has the potential to achieve a breakthrough in the current deadlock and put Yemen on the path of peaceful reform and democratisation.

One would think that President Saleh's brush with death in June - after the attack on his presidential compound - and the subsequent convalescence period he spent in Saudi Arabia would help him reconsider the situation. "But no, he still seems determined to hang on to power until his last breath," the newspaper said.

That is the only explanation for his "tortuous politics" in handling the GCC initiative. "He says he agrees to the terms of the initiative, then he wants it amended, later he delegates his vice president to sign it, then again he calls on his General People's Congress party to activate the legal procedure to implement it, and after that he asks for a popular vote on it."

Mr Saleh simply wants to rule; it doesn't matter if "over shards of Yemen or splinters of a people", the paper concluded.


Quartet plan is a bid to buy Israel time

"Praise the Lord! After months of lethargy, the Quartet Committee awoke from its deep hibernation to promise the Palestinians a state within one year," joked Abdelbari Atwan, editor of the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi daily.

Why the sudden awakening and why the rush, he asked. "Surely, it isn't to deliver the Palestinians from their torment under occupation, in exile and in refugee camps, but rather to break the international isolation imposed on Israel."

Tony Blair, the Quartet's envoy, is playing a big role in the procrastination intended to buy Israel time to gulp the remaining territories of the West Bank.

"This is a man who deceived his own people and implicated his country in a bloody war that killed one million Iraqis … why wouldn't he lie to the Palestinians to serve his Israeli friends' expansionist projects?"

The former British PM is reaping the fruits of his deception in millions of dollars from Arab oil countries, mainly Kuwait, Qatar and formerly Libya under Muammar Qaddafi. In his 71 trips to the Middle East in the framework of his mission as the Quartet's envoy, he managed to achieve absolutely nothing.

President Abbas must refuse to fall for the Quartet's new trap. He must not return to arbitrary negotiations. In fact, he must start a campaign to oust Mr Blair from his position and benefit from the support of his own people.

After his testimony, Tantawi must get out

It was shocking to learn that the Chairman of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, had testified in favour of the former president Hosni Mubarak and his interior minister, Habib el Adli, wrote Mazen Hammad in a comment article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

Field Marshal Tantawi's testimony was considered by many commentators as an attempt to clear Mr Mubarak and Mr Adli of the charges of firing on demonstrators and embezzling public money.

Most markedly is that Field Marshal Tantawi called Mr Mubarak "Mr President".

"This poses a challenge not only for the youth movement, but for the entire opposition and all Egyptians.

"Field Marshal Tantawi has, therefore, to resign from his post and apologise to Egyptians for giving false testimony. His answers to the questions raised in the court … showed him as if he still considers Mr Mubarak to be the president of the country."

"The revolutionary youth are now required to take to the streets in a mass rally to demand the Supreme Council to step down and hand over power to a national council that is not aligned to the former regime.



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk