x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Lakhdar Brahimi's efforts on Syria must focus on the revolutionaries

Assad cannot be party to the solution, since he is the cause of the problem, writes Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in Asharq Al Awsat. Other topics in the Arabic language press: Morsi's paternal tone, and Palestinian statehood

We don't know what plot the Arab League and UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is hatching in order to stop the ongoing war in Syria. He is the only person who represents the last hope for an end to the mayhem, said the Saudi columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

In light of his secretiveness and the information vacuum, it is only normal that stories attributed to him raise concern, although he had denied them every time. This time around, rumour has it Mr Brahimi has been touring capitals of interest to promote a new scheme for Syria that sees president Bashar Al Assad forsaking power in more than a year to be succeeded by the various competing powers through internationally supervised elections.

Would Al Assad's resignation and subsequent elections be adequate gateways to a solution or are they a crisis project that would lead to further complicating the issue?

"I believe that a similar proposal is doomed in advance and would certainly be rejected. Firstly because it is inapplicable and more importantly, because it would throw Syria into a wider ranging civil war," he said.

Syria is not Lebanon or Afghanistan, where Mr Brahimi was able to devise collaborative peace plans. Syria's turmoil is a bloody confrontation between the regime and the people. It is nothing like the power conflict between various domestic factions as the case was in Lebanon and Afghanistan.

"Mr Brahimi must not become Al Assad's and the Iranians' ride over the heads of the rebels. Mr Al Assad can't be party to the solution especially [because] he is the cause of the problem," added the writer.

If the international envoy really wants to rescue Syria, he must convince Mr Al Assad, or at least the Russians, that the president pick up his suitcase and depart from rule at the earliest.

This is the only solution for now and it is still available as long as the rebels haven't yet surrounded the presidential palace in Damascus.

Mr Brahimi may cynically respond that if matters were that easy there wouldn't have been any need for his role.

However, as important as his role is, any solution he proposes should in no way prolong the crisis and bestow legitimacy to whatever time remains in Mr Al Assad's term.

"If the special envoy is incapable of coming to a satisfactory solution for the Syrian people, if he fails to see the crimes that Mr Al Assad is committing everyday, and if he can't urge the members of the Security Council to stop the regime's daily massacres, he must go home and refrain from becoming an accomplice by covering up what is going on," added Al Rashed.

Morsi's 'paternal tone' is very out of touch

When the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, addressed his supporters last week to make the case for the new powers he granted himself, he used a very paternal tone, not realising how anachronistic it is, wrote Masoud Daher, a Lebanese scholar, in the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan.

This paternal and, more accurately, patronising attitude that characterises the speeches of some leaders was politely criticised by a Japanese Arabist, Nobuaki Notohara, who wrote in his comparative study The Arabs from a Japanese Perspective: "An Arab ruler addresses his people using the phrase 'My sons and daughters'. For us, it would be considered a serious insult if a Japanese official - of whatever rank - were to use it."

President Morsi seems to forget that the uprisings that convulsed the Arab world for the past two years have also been a rebellion against this insidious paternal authority, the columnist wrote.

Notohara observes: "We know that the father figure is quasi-sacred in the Arab family, based on religion, custom, and social structure … The ruler gets into that same position and places himself above the people, as a sacred figure."

President Morsi cannot use this old ploy. He must, instead, recognise that his legitimacy hinges on the separation of powers and on his adherence to constitutional provisions - not on issuing self-serving decrees.

Despite threats UN bid must be pursued

The most ironic thing about Israel's stance towards the Palestinian issue is when it depicts the Palestinian Authority's planned bid for the United Nations status as unilateral, as if the Israeli occupation consults with others about its killings and settlement policies, the Sharjah-based paper Al Khaleej said in an editorial.

As the date to submit the Palestinian bid for upgraded statehood at the General Assembly draws nearer, Israel and the US have stepped up pressure and threats under the excuse that the bid hurts the peace process.

"This is a big lie that people no longer swallow," he wrote.

The Palestinian Authority's move, if accomplished as planned, must be followed by other steps with different organs of the United Nations and the international courts, to which Israel's war crimes should be referred.

The Palestinian Authority must not capitulate to the pressures and threats of sanctions from the Israeli occupation and Washington; instead, the Authority must exert pressure and work towards opening up new horizons, he added.

All Palestinian forces must join efforts to turn up the heat on the occupation that presses ahead with its patent racism.



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk