x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Lebanese cabinet's agenda unclear

Arabic editorials also discuss the Middle East Quartet, the tragic death of an elderly Emirati, and minorities in the region.

"Two days before the regular meeting of the Lebanese cabinet, the agenda is not known yet. This is due to the absence of Prime Minister Najib Miqati, who is still in New York on a short recovery sojourn after he chaired the UN security council," wrote the Lebanese newspaper Al Anwar in its editorial.

The cabinet's agenda has not been drafted, because it needs the approval of the prime minister and the president.

As such, political figures are looking forward to his return from New York. "But is this the way to run a country?" asked the writer.

Public opinion needs to know exactly what is on the agenda so that it can give feedback.

Apart from the routine stuff like accepting donations and so on, it is not clear yet whether the cabinet will consider the demands of the General Workers' Union, which called for a strike in case its request for wage increase was ignored.

The cabinet has also to tackle the demands of the Lebanese University professors, who asked for a new pay scale, for which they threatened to call strike for.

So far, it is not clear in what way the cabinet will tackle these issues and others, such as the 2012 budget, in light of the economic implications of banning import from Lebanon to Syria by Damascus, as well as the faltering export of agricultural production to other Arab countries.

Middle East Quartet have lost credibility

Neither the Quartet, nor its head, Tony Blair, are qualified to undertake the role assigned to them in the settlement of the Palestinian cause, noted the UAE daily Al Khaleej in its editorial.

"Since its creation in 1992 following the Madrid Peace Conference, the Quartet has played a deciedly American-Israeli role in its meetings, statements and positions. It has not suggested even one initiative likely to achieve the goals for which it was established.

"Blair, who was appointed as head by George W Bush after the failure of his party in the British elections in 2007, in return for his role in backing the war in Iraq, has remained loyal to Israel, and supported the latter in its siege of Gaza Strip…  and aggression on Lebanon in 2006."

Truly, the Quartet has lost its efficiency, while its head is expressly biased towards the Israelis. It is stripped of any credibility and respect. Furthermore, it represents a burden on the Palestinian cause, the international legitimacy, and principles of rights, justice and morality.

Thus, the Quartet, together with its head, are less likely to undertake any positive role in favour of the Palestinian cause. Last of their stunts is inviting the parties in the dispute to engage in unconditional negotiations, while disregarding the issue of ongoing settlement expansion and the Judaisation of the Palestinian Territories.

Death of Emirati in need is a catastrophe

There was no need for an Emirati citizen to die of anguish and maltreatment for the Ministry of Social Affairs to realise that its decisions and policies in the last few years were unfair to a large section of the social security categories, said Sami al Reyami, the editor of the Dubai-based Al Emarat Al Youm daily.

Recently, Mohammed Hassan al Abdouli, 33, a disabled Emirati citizen and father of seven, died of heart complications after he became incapable of supporting his family. His requests for social aid were repeatedly rejected.

"For a citizen in dire circumstances to die after he had to endure poverty and deprivation on his own is difficult to fathom. It is by all accounts a catastrophe the likes of which have never been witnessed in the Emirati society, not in the pre-oil era or in the years after, prior to the ministry's creation," said the writer.

"How is it possible that we now hear of such stories while we have a ministry whose sole purpose is to provide the basics of welfare for citizens in need?" he asked. "This is a failure that denies the very existence of the ministry, whether it was directly or indirectly involved in the incident."

The decision by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to revoke the ministry's decision to cut welfare allowances came as proof that there are executive officials whose ideas don't comply with the leadership's vision of human support and development.

Minorities must serve countries, not tyrants

During a meeting with delegations from oriental Christian associations, the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad reportedly expressed his rejection of "Ottomanism" as a substitute for "Arabism" and for the shifting of the Arab world's decision centre to Ankara.

He also emphasised the dangerous consequences of empowering religious parties.

In his editorial article for the London-based Asharq Al Awsat, Tariq al Homayed wrote: "Such rhetoric suggests that the Syrian regime is trying to sway religious minorities by representing the majority as a scarecrow."

The real problem in this case isn't the regime itself, but rather the actions of the minorities themselves in our region.

Minorities in our region are accused of open radicalism. They seem to forget that country and citizenship are above everything and everyone.

This is the mistake of the minority Shiites in Bahrain and Lebanon. They throw themselves in the lap of Iran's dictatorship at a time when Iranians themselves dream of freedom and democracy.

The safeguarding of Arab countries and the right of coexistence in them must be the main priorities of all Arabs at the moment. Sooner or later, the tyrants will vanish, but countries are forever.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk