x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

No clear solution for Egypt agitation, says an Arab columnist

Nobody is safe in Kabul. The killing of AW Karzai is a signal that nobody in Afghanistan's government is really safe, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other excerpts touch on Egypt's expectations, the UAE's property market, and Saad Hariri's political future.

Killing of AW Karzai is a victory for Taliban

The assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Hamid Karzai the Afghan president, is a blow not only to Afghanistan but also to the US and its allies, the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi said in its leader article.

That the Taliban was able to reach such a highly-placed figure means that even Hamid Karzai is not immune from attack.

And this was not the usual car bomb or rocket attack, but rather by recruiting one of the victim's closest bodyguards.

AW Karzai, governor of Kandahar - the stronghold of the Taliban and the Pashtun - was one of the strongest US allies in Afghanistan. He enjoyed special charisma and influence among Pashtun tribes.

His demise may indicate that Nato is losing the war. The Taliban now controls more than two thirds of Afghan territory, and grows stronger over time. Meanwhile the US-trained Afghan forces are failing to ensure security for citizens. Reports say many Afghan soldiers are deserting to join the Taliban.

The plan to withdraw 30,000 US troops by year's end has confused the Afghan government, especially now that Washington and London have admitted having contact with the Taliban to discuss the possibility of involving it in a future government.

This is happening while Kabul is still fighting the insurgents.




Egypt between a rock and a hard place

"Currently, there is no radical solution in sight to the crisis between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) and the youth of the revolution in Egypt, other than to speed up the process of power transfer to a civilian government," columnist Mazen Hammad argued in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

People are growing dissatisfied with the reaction of both the council and the head of the government, Essam Sharaf, to their demands. Much of Egypt's civil society, including the January 25 movement, has expressed grave concern about the way the council and the government tackle the revolutions' demands.

People also express their fear that both institutions may be under the influence of hidden forces. Some suspect the remnants of the former regime, striving to push things back to where they were before the revolution.

As a result, protesters rallied against Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the council, accusing him of being a supporter of the old regime. They also criticised Mr Sharaf for being dependent on the military council.

This situation is likely to bring Egypt to the edge of a stalemate, considering the Council's threats to use force to disperse demonstrations in streets.

To curb any escalation, the government should think of reducing the transition period by setting the earliest possible date for organising the elections.


UAE should remain an investment hub

The repercussions of the global financial crisis are still being felt in varying degrees in different economic sectors in the UAE, especially in property, economist Najib al Sahamsi noted in the business section of the Emirati newspaper Emarat al Youm, yet there re promising investment opportunities for both Emiratis and expatriates.

As elsewhere, UAE real estate companies' stocks dropped steeply - by 50 per cent in Dubai - but the business community is optimistic about the future of the sector in the UAE. In the UAE we have seen a correction rather than a collapse.

Upmarket apartments and villas in Dubai did drop significantly, but demand for villas for Emiratis will increase as long as the population is growing. And lower prices are an advantage for many who are thinking of buying.

Abu Dhabi, in particular, can still absorb large real estate programmes like hotels and resorts. Yet a federal mortgage law is needed to regulate many real estate activities. Commercial banks, for example, are required to fund housing programmes designed for Emiratis, while local governments need to provide plots of land and be flexible in issuing licences for companies operating in this sector.

"All indications show that UAE will remain a point of attraction for investors, thanks to the security and political stability it enjoys."

Saad Hariri makes his political comeback

It was important for Saad Hariri, the leader of Lebanon's March 14 bloc, to show up, after taking a break from politics for months, to tell his supporters and his opponents "I am here", the Lebanese newspaper Al Anwar noted in its editorial.

"The young leader emerged this time more determined to achieve his political project to build the nation and preserve its institutions," the paper said.

Hariri looked serious when he said that the present government would not survive until the parliamentary elections expected in 2013. "The opposition will topple it sooner than anyone might think," he predicted.

Observers think that just by appearing, he showed that the opposition forces are still firm, and that the ultimate return of the leader to Lebanon is but a matter of time. Then, they said, he will closely co-ordinate efforts to overthrow the government.

But others say Hariri's remarks are nothing but words to boost morale, after some accused him of being insufficiently engaged in the investigation of the assassinations of his father Rafik Hariri, other politicians and journalists.

In his remarks, the younger Mr Hariri also noted some flaws in the government's first statement, which was passed by the parliament, particularly about supporting the Lebanese army.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi