x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

No commitment to change in Jordan

The Muslim Brotherhood has played it safe by deciding not to contest elections in Jordan, a writer notes. In other Arabic-language commentary, a potential breakthrough in Sudan is hailed, and the value of a boycott on a meeting about Syria is questioned.

The Jordanian government thinks it has made huge progress on the path of political reform, while the opposition maintains that decision-makers are simply putting lipstick on what is essentially the status quo, according to Ibrahim Gharaybeh, a Jordanian contributor to the opinion pages of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

In a context other than Jordan, it would perhaps look like a natural situation, the writer said in an article yesterday titled Consensus on a political life that is out of step with reality.

Early national elections in Jordan are expected to be held by the end of this year.

King Abdullah II has pushed for early elections under pressure from street protests that became more frequent since 2011, with the advent of the Arab Spring.

"Anywhere in the world, there is always conflict between those who rule and those who sit in the opposition," the writer said.

"But when you analyse the situation in Jordan, political behaviour and media manoeuvres from both sides will tell you that the government is happy to see the Muslim Brotherhood boycott the forthcoming elections … and, in turn, the Brotherhood find in the boycott something of a safe haven to continue to work, exert pressure and maintain a certain rhetoric."

Outside the convenient shelter of the opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood fears it may lose its edge, and probably stumble and fall, he noted.

But you definitely see the symptoms of a marriage of convenience there between the establishment and its main political rival.

"This kind of subconscious connivance between the government and the Brotherhood is an indication of how reluctant we are [in Jordan] to admit that reform entails painful and costly sacrifices, which may hurt far more than the status quo," the writer argued.

For the government, the standoff with the Muslim Brotherhood is less costly than a head-on confrontation with the prospect of genuine reform.

Without tensions with the Brotherhood, the government will have too much work on its hands: from improving basic infrastructure and fighting tax evasion to expanding school buildings and protecting natural water resources.

"All of these are boring, tough tasks that annoy the government's good friends and allies," the writer said. "On the other hand, the current crisis gives the Muslim Brotherhood a sense of security … They enjoy the feeling of being the victims, the oppressed, the romantic heroes."

Instead of taking this opportunity of new elections to make a difference and reach out to a larger base, the Muslim Brotherhood decided to play it safe and was quick to declare that it was boycotting them.

Sudanese agreement looms on the horizon

A major breakthrough in talks was noted recently between Sudan and South Sudan, the former civil war adversaries, which allows for anticipation of an imminent comprehensive agreement on most thorny issues, said the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan in its Wednesday editorial.

Since South Sudan's secession from the northern part of the country last year, the list of unresolved partition-related issues between both nations remains long. It includes the delimitation of the borders, contested areas and oil issues as well as security issues.

"The resilience displayed by the negotiating delegations in the Addis Ababa meeting had a positive role in facilitating the talks and circumventing hurdles. This only proves that the countries are capable of letting go of past differences and looking forward towards cooperation," suggested the paper.

The trudging war that tore through Sudan for decades had a destructive effect on development. It depleted the country's immense resources, which should have been allocated towards human welfare and development.

It was said in the past that Sudan, with its vast expanses of lush soil and a river that runs through its territories is "the world's food basket". Security and political stability at this phase mean that the Sudans could hope to rise to an influential status in the region.

Snubbing of quartet meeting benefits Iran

Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi has been active on multiple fronts in recent days, observed the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial.

He went on a European tour for official meetings then went on to host a meeting for the quartet committee that he proposed to find a political exit that would put and end to the bloodletting in Syria. However, Saudi Arabia didn't attend the meeting.

"Much speculation ensued about the real reason behind Saudi's boycott of the meeting. Iran's participation in it may have been the main reason, since the kingdom doesn't want any role for Iran in the Syrian crisis because it supports the regime," said the paper.

Iran, however, seized the opportunity to get on Egypt's good side. Tehran is aware of the transformation process that is going on in Egypt at present and is seeking to break free from its international isolation and build bridges with the largest Sunni state in the Arab world.

"In our opinion, Saudi Arabia's choice to boycott the quartet meeting was inopportune. It opens Egypt's gates wide for Iran that is anxious to reinstate diplomatic and commercial relationships with Cairo," added the paper in conclusion


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk