x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Obama address marks a shift in foreign policy

In the Arabic-language press, opinion writers express themselves on subject including Barack Obama's speech on the Middle East, a new career opportuity for Saudi women, and the "troubling" Arab silence about events in Syria.

Barack Obama's latest speech was meant to say that the US has changed, wrote Satea Noureddine in an opinion article for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

Obama wanted to say that his country would no longer be an ally to tyrants or the global police. He said the US would let the Arab world find its way to freedom and democracy, and reiterated that the US can no longer afford to engage in many wars.

Apparently, the US will focus in the near future on empowering local security arrangements by economic means.

In doing this, it wishes to leave the task of fighting terrorism, particularly Islamic militancy, to Muslim and Arab allies.

Meanwhile, it will gradually withdraw from Afghanistan and take more neutral positions in a bid to manage the changing Arab political outlook without jeopardising its interests.

This US withdrawal, for economic and cultural reasons, is prompting Arabs and Muslims to undertake changes by themselves.

By the same token, the US wishes to test to what extent it can take a non-allied but positive attitude in the interest of other countries and peoples.

Probably the new attitude has been accelerated by Israel's intransigent right-wing policies, which have convinced Americans to reduce their role on the Muslim and Arab world scene.

Arabs' silence towards Syria is troubling

Unarmed protesters have defied the Syrian regime's brutal clampdown for nine consecutive weeks. For that reason, US President Barack Obama broke his silence and called on Syrian President Bashar al Assad to stop the killings, introduce reforms or get out.

"But the question is: when will Arabs break their silence too?" asked Tareq Alhomayed in an opinion article for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The death toll is nearing 1,000 but no official Arab voice has been heard to denounce the Syrian regime.

Arabs were quick to take a stand against Col Muammar Qaddafi by calling on the international community to intervene. so why have they remained silent on Syria?

Syrians took to the streets last Friday bare-breasted to show they were unarmed. However, Syrian security forces opened fire and killed at least 40.

Unlike Libyan rebels, who used arms early on against Qaddafi's mercenaries, Syrian protesters have not used weapons.

The Arab silence about what is happening in Syria is sad and frustrating as there is no sign the killings will stop.

Political implications aside, the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference must take a moral and humanitarian position towards Syria's unarmed civilians, who are aspiring to live a decent life.

US should take serious steps towards peace

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has said it again: the Palestinian Authority has to choose between reconciling with Hamas or making peace with Israel.

"This gives the impression that a peace is indeed in process and Palestinians need to reap its fruits instead of getting along with each other," wrote the Emirati newspaper AlBayan in its editorial.

Ironically, this came right after US president Barack Obama's address on the Middle East, where he mentioned the withdrawal to 1967 borders as a condition to bring into effect the two-state solution, a step that can make peace possible.

"[The US] has to take serious and substantial steps to force Israel to commit to the requirements of a just peace."

The Israeli government continues to mislead international public opinion, in order to dilute international efforts to keep the peace process on track.

Tel Aviv seeks to obstruct any revival of the peace process based on terms of the Camp David accords, the Madrid Conference and other previous negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

"The reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is a core Palestinian demand that Nethanyahu has no right to interfere in."

Emerging local jobs for Saudi women

For Saudi women, work opportunities have been limited to very few careers, such as education and health services, observed the Saudi newspaper Al Jazirah in its editorial.

Undoubtedly, there are many occupational areas that will require the involvement of women. Now by expanding the scope of jobs women can perform thanks to an initiative by the ministry of education, women with the required specialisation will be able to operate in engineering and technical and maintenance operations in girls' schools.

This step will open the way for Saudi women to access maintenance services for women's communities. This has been initiated in the inauguration of Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University for women in Riyadh.

The explanation given about the newly established university, which will host tens of thousand of female students and faculty members, showed a great need for specialists in facilities maintenance and operation.

To keep the physical plant operating smoothly at such a big institution will require a large number of technicians and engineers on site. This should create ample job opportunities for Saudi women.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi