x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Jordan indirectly pays the price for the Syrian crisis

Arabic newspapers discuss the closure the border between Jordan and Iraq, Assad speech and Libyan constitution.

As important border with Iraq is closed, Jordan indirectly pays the price for the Syrian crisis

The government of Nouri Al Maliki in Iraq is in a state of disarray and imbalance.

Its unilateral decision to close the border with Jordan, which took effect yesterday morning, may be the clearest indication of that, suggested the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial on Wednesday.

Petra, the Jordanian news agency, reported that Jordanian authorities had received a notice from Iraqi authorities announcing the closing of Traibil border post starting from 6am on Wednesday. The notice cited "their own private reasons" and it didn't mention when the border post would reopen.

"The matter doesn't need any explaining," the newspaper said. "The Anbar region is currently witnessing popular protests against the state about the marginalisation that the government has been subjecting the people to for purely sectarian reasons.

"Thousands of the Al Anbar region's residents have been demonstrating during the past 20 days, blocking the road between the Jordanian border and various Iraqi cities."

Iraq's borders with Syria are also closed. Anti-regime Syrian insurgents have been able to control most of the border passages, which has placed Iraq under an undeclared siege.

As a result, the only exit point by land remaining for Iraq is its border with Iran, which doesn't necessarily bother prime minister Al Maliki.

On the other side of the border, Jordan has been facing a stifling economic crisis and a $2 billion (Dh 7.35 billion) budgetary deficit.

Its foreign debt has soared to $23 billion. Closing the border with Iraq severely damages the country's imports and exports, and interrupts the transit business that benefits thousands of Jordanian families.

"Closing the border with Jordan is clearly an immediate outcome of the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on regional states," the paper said.

Mr Al Maliki's government is the only Arab government that sympathises with the Assad regime. It was accused of using Iraqi territories to allow the transport of Iranian weapons and economic aid to Syria to support the Syrian regime in its war against its own people.

"The conflict in Syria has turned into a sectarian civil war. It is only normal that it would reverberate in Iraq, where the US first experimented with sectarian segmentation," the newspaper noted.

Sectarian violence is making its way strongly into Iraq. It may end up entrenching the current segmentation based on racial and religious considerations.

Mr Al Maliki holds the greater part of the responsibility for it, since it was his marginalisation policies and his failure to achieve national reconciliation that led to this situation, the paper concluded.

A revolution has more than just one leader

When President Bashar Al Assad asked in his televised speech, "Who is the thinker and leader of this revolution", which revolution exactly was he thinking about? So asked Lebanese writer Samir Attallah in the London-based paper Asharq Al Awsat.

If he was referring to the French Revolution, it had several leaders of different backgrounds, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Charles Montesquieu. If he was thinking about the Russian Revolution, Maxim Gorky and Leo Tolstoy were its gurus before Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.

If he was alluding to the 8 March Revolution, Michel Aflaq was its thinker, and was sentenced to death in absentia and banned from Syria throughout his life under Mr Al Assad's father Hafez Al Assad, while Salah Bitar, his cofounder of the Baath party, was assassinated in Paris.

The Italian novelist Umberto Eco said it is literature that begets revolutions. Writers convey people's feelings, and it is not necessary that thinkers have to teach ordinary people the philosophy of the revolution.

Gone is the time of revolutions that cheer one man, or regimes that cheer one man. No one knows the name of the man who caused the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Syria has a host of intellectuals people we are not familiar with only because they were banned. They can hold different views but longing for freedom is their common denominator.

Libyan divisions still delay a constitution

Any nation that turns a dark page of despotism and re-embraces freedom is anxious to draft its new constitution, but in the case of Libya, the wait is getting precariously long, wrote columnist Barakat Shlatweh in yesterday's edition of the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

"Today - 15 months after the revolution that killed Muammar Qaddafi, and way past the March 2011 deadline set by the provisional constitutional declaration - there is not even a standing agreement about a constituent committee," he said.

This stalling is a function of deep divisions between Libya's three main regions over influence on the country's future.

The region of Barqa, which declared its autonomy soon after the revolution, is putting roadblocks before the election of a constituent committee that represents each of the country's regions evenly, with 20 members each.

Barqa leaders want to secure more weight in that committee so as to reflect their region's large population, disregarding the fact that a constitution is, by definition, a matter of national consensus.

This situation is aggravating the tensions in the country, favouring instability and fostering a sense of "provincialism" and "tribalism", the author said.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk