x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

King of Morocco starts radical change

"The speech that King Mohammed VI delivered last Wednesday was important on a number of levels, not least for its timing and symbolic tenor," stated the Moroccan newspaper Al Massae in its editorial.

Constitutional amendments have been a primary demand repeatedly expressed throughout Morocco in recent years, though not necessarily through the channel of political parties. Civil society groups were more active on that plane.

True, the king's move comes amid calls for a march of one million protesters on March 20, but "the king took this initiative with a boldness that flabbergasted, if not paralysed, the political classes that were not expecting a measure of this magnitude from the country's leader."

Significantly reducing his executive prerogatives, the Moroccan king pledged that the amended constitution, which will be submitted to national referendum before ratification, will expressly provide for greater powers to the prime minister and less centralised political clout in the palace.

"This means that, effectively, the prime minister will be the de facto and de jure head of the elected government."

The ball is henceforth in the court of the political forces in Morocco; now they will not be able to blame their time-honoured inertia on the limited space for manoeuvre within which they were allowed to operate.


Muzzle era is bound to end in Syria too

"There is a spectre of freedom hovering over Syria today, for the winds of change that blew over the Arab world in the past three months will not shy away from knocking on the gates of the large prison that the country had become," wrote Riyad al Turk, a leading figure of the banned Syrian Democratic People's Party, in the opinion pages of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

"We do not live in an isolated island and the wheel of history will not stop at the doorstep of our nation.

"The wall of fear, which has oppressed Arab peoples for decades, has come undone, and with its undoing a page is turned on half a century of military coups, junta rule and denial of civil liberties in the name of progressive socialism at one extreme and of religion at the other."

The point is, change is happening all around and Syria will not be an exception. All attempts to dampen the spirits of the people by referring to a civil war menace, the so-called Islamic threat or the incapability of the people to practice democracy are bound to fail.

"None of it will fly when the moment of truth comes.The Syrian people have long reached the age of majority, and the governing regime must bear this in mind before it is too late."


Twitter is creative space for Arab writers

These tiny texts that are massively disseminated through social networking websites, especially Twitter, are actually breathing life back into creative writing in Arabic, observed Yasser Hareb, an Emirati writer, in the comment section of the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan.

"For years, we have grown used to authors and cultural elites monopolising the whole literary enterprise. As readers, all we could do was watch, without the ability to comment, let alone to reveal some of our own literary creations which had enough potential to match the work of published writers."

But now, we have Twitter messages. So, those cultural "Berlin Walls" that once stood between the people and creativity have come down, and everyone now can, if they so wish, write what they want and however they want to write it.

Combining thought and literary wit, some of these tiny texts leave the reader in awe at their degree of eloquence and insight. This simple website, Twitter, is actually pushing us to improve our research and writing skills so as not to disappoint our readerships.

"Twitter has definitely become a soft power tool now. It's not just an entertainment platform anymore; it has become as effective as television, cinema, books and newspapers. And I kept wondering what to call this new literary genre, until a friend suggested: let's call it Literature 140."


Time is on the side of Qaddafi's brigades

"There is a very important element that analysts are failing to point out in their comments on the ongoing battle between Muammar Qaddafi and the rebels. And that element is time, which clearly plays into the Libyan regime's favour," commented Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

"The past three weeks of fighting have established a new situation which, according to western intelligence reports, is expected to tip the balance of power towards the Qaddafi brigades if the status quo remains the same."

The rebels may be large in number and pumped up on enthusiasm and a desire for change, but they are physically and strategically untrained. What's more, on the other end of the battlefield, Qaddafi in Tripoli has access to all the hard currency stacked inside Libya's central bank, which allows him to easily buy allegiances and the services of mercenary fighters.

The recent return of Ahmed Qaddaf Aldam, Qaddafi's cousin, to stand by his side after having deserted him earlier is perhaps a sign that political and military calculations are being reviewed.

"The time for talk is up, this is the time for action now - time to support the rebels in every way possible."

In this sort of situation, slacking simply costs lives.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi