x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Lebanese ministers criticised for skewed priorities

Arabic editorials comment on Jumblatt's stance towards Syria, Iran-US tensions and why the campaigns against the Gaza blockade must continue.

Government should prioritise real issues

The Lebanese newspaper Al Anwar ran an editorial saying certain ministers are behaving as if the government is provisional, and are affecting its overall performance.

"But what makes some members act this way?" asked the writer. One of the explanations points to two pending issues, which are also the main causes of contention among various political blocs.

First, the deadline set by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to hand over the accused in the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al Hariri is nearing. In turn, the government is under pressure to provide a convincing answer.

"It cannot say it has not found them. This, of course, would not be an acceptable answer to both the Lebanese people and the tribunal."

Second, the government has to decide about the financing of the tribunal, as the public budget of 2012 enters the last stage of preparation. The question is whether the budget will include Lebanon's share.

In general, the prime minister, Najib Mikati, has failed to state clearly his government's work plan in the first statement to the parliament . This forced him to introduce new items later, creating confusion among the media and observers. Yet, this mostly has to do with Lebanon's commitment to the international community.


Jumblatt moves to secure his leadership

Walid Jumblatt, leader of the National Struggle Front in Lebanon, has called on the international community to categorise the protests in Syria as a revolution, Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat, said.

Mr Jumblatt stressed the fact that Arab peoples are aspiring for freedom. He also called on the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad to introduce reforms as soon as possible.

"Jumbulat's attitude is somehow intriguing: why did he take this stance so suddenly? Was it out of concern and support for the Syrian people under suppression, or was it formed by other motives?"

As a matter of fact, he was among the first who asked Al Assad to speed up the reform process, but his tone today is strikingly different. Mr Jumblatt wants to describe what is happening in Syria as a revolution. Indeed, no Arab official has gone so far to define it as such.

"I believe, however, that Jumblatt is fully aware that the Syrian regime is not yet ready to engage in reform.

"It is strange though to see Jumblatt demanding reforms for the Syrian regime, while the Lebanese government, including Hizbollah, turns a blind eye to Syrian security forces, which chase those who fled Syria to Lebanon. Indeed, the government handed over some defected soldiers back to Damascus."

Iranian-US conflict over Iraq renewed

Commenting on Iran's announcement earlier this week that it shot down a US spy drone near one of its nuclear establishments in Qom, Lebanese Assafir daily columnist Satea Noureddine said: "The US-Iranian cold war is gradually getting warmer."

During the past eight years of US occupation of Iraq, many direct altercations took place between the Americans and the Iranians within and outside Iraqi borders.

But, the most recent one could be the most dangerous and sensitive although it isn't the first of its kind. However, a few days ago, Tehran announced that it occupied three centres in Iraq that used to belong to a Kurdish Iranian group.

The situation is prone to escalation and may well become a confrontation since it serves the interests of both sides now more than anytime before: the Americans that are preparing to make the final reduction to their military presence in Iraq before the end of the year don't want to give the impression that they are handing Iraq over to Iran. As for the Iranians, they want to give the impression that they forced the US out of Iraq.

The conflict over Iraq, which has always been the grand prize coveted by everyone, is once again renewed, but it isn't restricted between the US and Iran and it isn't confined to Iraqi territories.

Fight against Gaza blockade must persist

The international community is still dealing with the Gaza blockade as a routine measure that a state takes within its legal and sovereign borders, but the fact is it is implemented by an occupying entity that is imposing unlawful sanctions, said the Emirati newspaper Akhbar Al Arab in its editorial.

The UN Secretary-General has repeatedly confirmed that the occupation is unlawful. "If occupation is unlawful, then the international community should be using this fact as a justification for punishing Israel's ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people."

However, many a golden opportunity have come and gone and the UN still chose to side with Israel. Such a disregard for the rights of the Palestinians raises questions about the seriousness of this international organisation in protecting peoples' liberties and intrinsic rights.

The international organisation is pushing the Palestinians to confrontation to free themselves from the Israeli grip. Meanwhile, the international support campaigns for Gaza must continue as they enhance the Palestinians' chances for liberation.



* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk