x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

New models for the Arab world

In different ways, Libyans and Tunisians have sent powerful messages this week, an Arabic-language columnist says. Other topics today: water quality, Egyptian policing, and coded colonialism.

Libya and Tunisia, new models for Arab world

In one day, Arabs and the world made two amazing discoveries, columnist Satea Noureddin suggested the in the Lebanese daily Assafir.

The first discovery is that the Libyan population can come together, as an entity, around a united identity and for a common goal.

The second is that the Tunisian people have decided to break away from Arab traditions and join western traditions of democracy.

The festivities that accompanied the declaration of liberation in Libya were quite touching. It seemed as if the deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi was able in his final days to accomplish a miracle by bringing the Libyans together to claim what is rightfully theirs and to hope for a normal state with satisfactory institutions and reasonable ambitions.

"The celebrations marked a crucial turning point. Libya's history was being rewritten. Its people were learning the elementary rules of national assembly."

But the Libyan discovery was rudimentary compared to the Tunisian case that presented the world with a unique model of congregation, politics and awareness.

The Tunisia that went to the polls on Sunday didn't need to forge a national identity; democracy is its identity now. Its people have every right to boast of the accomplishments that have put them at a considerable distance from the rest of the Arab peoples.

Senator uses code word for colonialism

US senator John McCain raised the possibility this week of a military attack on Syria to "protect civilians", which has become a secret code for modern colonialism, columnist Amjad Arrar wrote in the newspaper Emirati Al Khaleej.

"It is important to emphasise the Syrian opposition's express and firm rejection of any foreign interference in a region that can't take any more sparks of conflict, especially since foreign powers have only their own interests at heart," the writer said.

Voices within the Syrian opposition are warning of a tendency among regional and international powers to promote military interference, based on calls, specifically from opposition elements overseas, for such intrusions. This would surely drive the situation in Syria and the region into an unwanted confrontation.

"The regime can manoeuvre and contrive all it wants, in the end, it can't escape the fact that radical change is of the essence," he added. "A comprehensive national dialogue must begin at the earliest. The regime must end its violent streak and hold those responsible for bloodshed accountable. At the same time, the opposition must at all costs avoid seeking foreign assistance."

It is by now clear that both the regime and the opposition are in a bind; the former is getting nowhere with its violent clampdown and the latter is fragmented and lacks proper leadership.

Poor water treatment can jeopardise health

"It is scientifically established that water should have no more than 8 per cent acidity (and no less than 6 per cent). Above that limit water is too acid, and represents a direct risk to human health and to animals and plants," economist Najib Al Samsi wrote in the business section of the UAE daily Emarat Al Youm.

Water quality is checked carefully, in terms of pH rate (acidity level), and also proportion of radiation and of minerals. These standards are strictly observed in advanced countries. But some Arab countries which have important natural water resources face many challenges and see the quality of their water worsening.

The UAE depends largely on desalination plants, and also on small commercial treatment plants. The small stations are less likely to respect quality standards, as their owners are mainly after profit. Small plants are scattered in many parts of the country, the writer said.

Such small water purification plants may use low-quality filters and equipment.

Sometimes they fail to change filters on schedule. Thus, sediment and germs can grow, which may pose serious health threat to humans.

Water destined for human use is also threatened because of storage conditions. In UAE, tanks on top of buildings can be poorly maintained.

Egypt's police code is a sign of recovery

Because police had too small a role in the aftermath of the January 25 revolution, Egypt was plunged into a state of chaos as muggers have been terrorising citizens, the Cairo-based newspaper Al Ahram noted in its main editorial.

The state of lawlessness has become a matter of deep concern, as thugs managed to smuggle weapons into the country from Libya following the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi's regime.

This happened at a time when the police apparatus had not recovered completely. Yet there are many indications that great efforts have been made to overhaul the role of police and enable them to undertake their responsibility in protecting citizens and maintaining public order.

The ministry of interior has recently issued a police code, a professional charter of ethics setting out guidelines. A ministry source calls the code a new version of a social contract between police and citizens.

Police have also undertaken several courses during the last five months to train themselves on the new concepts and culture of the ministry.

"This paper believes this is a positive development that is likely to ensure people's safety and achieve stability."


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk