x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Nakba puts Palestine atop the Arab agenda

Editorials and columns in the Arabic-language press address subjects including Sunday's Nakba events, concern over Morocco's violent new response to protests, and anxiety over the fact that there's still no new cabinet in Lebanon.

The Arab awakening has broken psychological barriers erected by the Arab regimes about Israel, commented Satea Nourredine in a leader in the Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

For the first time, the Palestinians feel they are able to move forward to the front lines without fear of being stabbed in the back.

This year's commemoration of Nakba was special, no longer a moral burden on the shoulders of Palestinians and all Arabs.

The Nakba anniversary has become an event that sends shudders down the spines of Israelis. Of all the Arab popular actions, this one is in a way the most important, with its deep symbolic meaning. This rising perhaps outweighs all the wars Arabs have fought against Israel.

"The most beautiful scene on that historic day was the movement of Palestinians from the north, east, south and from the Palestinian Occupied Territories in a unified march to exert pressure on Israel. They sent a clear message that … a new civil and peaceful resistance is looming .

"The new movement against the occupation will be stronger, able to freeze Israel's military might and deprive it of political legitimacy."

The most important outcome of the border incidents was that Arab public opinion still backs the Palestinian cause, which is now likely to regain its position at the top of the Arab agenda.

Lebanon still does not have a government

"While revolutionary storms are blowing across the Arab world, Lebanon has stagnated with no government for the last four months," observed Amjad Arar in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Al Arab.

Sources close to the prime minister-designate, Najib Miqati, said some progress had been achieved through daunting consultations, but uncertainty persists, and there is no clear deadline for a government to be born.

The Druze leader Walid Jumblat poured anger over his new allies, criticising them for moving so slowly. He said there is no justification for this since former prime minster Saad al Hariri and his supporters are outside the game.

Contrary to what others have suggested, conflict over the distribution of ministerial portfolios is the main obstacle.

Some maintain that Damascus is still a major player in Lebanon's internal politics, but where is the logic in waiting for Syria to settle down before Lebanon establishes a government? This would only make the Syrians ridiculous before the world, revealing that they are unable to manage a small country like Lebanon.

"It is unacceptable that Lebanon should be in such a vacuum that the ministry of finance complains of being unable to pay public employees' salaries because parliament is late to convene."

Political forces need to put aside their differences to solidify a government for the country.

Too much force breaks up 'picnic' in Morocco

Moroccan human rights associations expressed fear after the violent intervention of security forces to disperse protesters on Sunday in Rabat, reported Mahmoud Maarfouf in the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

The groups expressed concern that the violence signalled a change in the ways the authorities will, from now on, handle peaceful demonstrations.

Khalid Soufiani, a lawyer, said that some parties in government would like to confront the protesters, who are demanding constitutional, political, economic and social reforms. But this is unnecessary, he said.

Security men used excessive force to break up a protest of the February 20 movement in front of a shopping mall in the Riyadh district of Rabat. Demonstrators claimed that the Moroccan intelligence service was holding political prisoners and illegally torturing them at the nearby Temara detention centre. This jail has been the focus of reports and claims of torture.

The protesters called their demonstration a "picnic". It attracted former detainees, Salafi jihadists, journalists, and rights activists.

Al Mukhtar al Ziyani, a journalist with Al Ittihad al Ishtiraki newspaper, wrote that he too fears that the violent intervention by security forces may mark a new policy. He added that police also violently dispersed other demonstrators in Mohammed V Avenue downtown.

First test of new Egypt in dealings with Israel

Two days ago the Egyptian armed forces had to intercept protesters who, demanding the liberation of Jerusalem were marching towards Sinai on their way to the Israeli border, said the columnist Abdulrahman al Rashid in the London-based Asharq Al Awsat daily.

In another incident Egyptian security forces blocked a horde of protesters headed to the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

"The protests failed, but what we have witnessed was the first test of the new Egypt in its foreign policy towards Israel," noted the writer. "The Syrian authority resorted to opening the Golan front for demonstrators against the Israeli occupation in hope of swaying Syrian and Arab public opinion in its favour. The Egyptian command didn't care about public opinion."

The events did not quell the claims of some Egyptians who want to repeal all the agreements that the Mubarak and Sadat regimes signed with Israel over the last four decades. Popular pressure on the government and the military council will escalate. People will not shy away from taking to the streets once again.

An annulment of the Camp David accord would mean war. However, Egypt's suffering economy doesn't allow for an open confrontation while the country is just starting to rebuild itself.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi