x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Jordan needs a new economic plan

Round up of news from the Arab world

The new Jordanian government of Dr Marouf al Bakhit has been assigned by virtue of royal decree to undertake urgent reforms, spanning political, economic and social fields, noted the economist Dr Moussa Shtiwi in a commentary for the Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad.

Although political reform is a prime concern now, as it is a matter of consensus and demanded by all political players, new economic and social policies are no less important. These need equal consideration and treatment.

Al Bakhit proposed a roadmap of how his team would address these issues. The main goal of the plan is to achieve balanced development and social justice. Yet, a mere will is not enough. What is needed is a new creative approach, which is not available currently. For this to happen, the government needs to review the way many economic and social issues were handled in the past.

The school of thought that governed economic policies during the last twenty years was dominated by a neo-liberal approach that aimed at structural adjustment of the economy at the expense of social development. The assumption was that the reform would ultimately benefit all segments of society.

The prophecy was false. It never happened. Jordan still faces a severe economic crisis, which requires drastic policy changes. Otherwise, economic and social problem will worsen out of proportion.

The US role in Africa will grow larger

"The prompt US recognition of southern Sudan came in line with its intial plans to divide the country. The recognition is thus a natural step, which will attract more western countries to do the same," noted the Syrian newspaper Teshreen in its editorial.

"This proves that the western discourse is temperamental, only recognising democracies that suits it and accepting poll results that meet its demands. If any election results in a government, are not consistent with US plans and policies, it will be immediately  aborted. An example of this was Hamas."

Of course there are many more examples that show that double standards adopted by the US. In fact, Washington does not deny this, and considers it a vital feature of its diplomatic approaches because it has diverse strategic interests worldwide.

From past experiences, Washington appears to disregard constant ethics in its foreign policy, while it handles any emerging situation individually and according to factors that cause it. And this is what is happening now in dealing with the Egyptian regime, and earlier with the Tunisian.

So, the recognition of the new republic in Sudan is a new ouverture for the US role in Africa and a beginning of further interference in internal affairs of individual countries there. It may announce the disintegration of states and the emergence of new regimes that serve Wasignton's vital interests.


Political precedent is under way in Lebanon

Lebanese political events top headlines once again in the run-up to the formation of a new government in Lebanon under the leadership of Najib Miqati, observed Hosam Kanafani in an opinion article carried by the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

Meanwhile, concepts such as partnership, unilateralism, natural unity and other terms will no longer be the norms. Political powers grew more practical and at the same time less hypocritical. They know that the two alliances in the future  government have little to unite them, while each party will work to achieve its interests.

Attempts to revive a consensus formula in Miqati's government have failed. The March 14 bloc - the new emerging opposition - decided not to enter the government.  So the principle of participation or "consensual democracy", an invention of Lebanese politics, is fast fading away now.

The expected government should set a precedent and lay the ground for real democratic practices with political powers represented in the government and others acting as the opposition.

"This is a positive thing, as it will usher in a new phase in Lebanese politics away from sectarian and factional divisions." And it is a necessary move towards greater democracy and transparency. This is a timely of evolution, especially since the country has to address many political challenges, such as the imminent verdict of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.


Ministry of education is keen on stability

"In a symposium organised by Al Ittihad newspaper on education and human resources, the minister of education, Hamid al Qatami, spoke of the concerns of this strategic field. His speech highlighted a new vision about the role of media as a partner in policymaking," wrote Ali al Amodi in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Ittihad.

During  his presentation, Mr al Qatami highlighted the government's efforts to education, and its role in improving people's lives and the country's welfare.

"Perhaps one of the most vital points raised by al Qatami is his ministry's keeness on the stability of education sector by upgrading the standard of teachers and restoring their  educational central role. This endeavoour, he said,  will be institutionalised, and shall not be affected by change of persons in charge."

Indeed, professional development and the institutionalised framework of this activity have been serious issue, which has continuously affected the output of compulsory education. Officials have to place 96 per cent of high school graduates in foundation courses, which represents "a drain on the budget and waste of time".

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi