x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Opinion piece discusses the crisis in Syria

Editorials in Arabic newspapers comment on the last stage of the regime in Yemen, differences in TV shows in the East and West, and false reforms after the 1967 war.

Situation in Syria may have limited impact

"The Syrian revolution is evolving," observed Satea Noureddine in a leader article in the Lebanese newspaper Assafir. "Day after day, it is growing larger. It has gradually written off the myth that it is a byproduct of external conspiracies."

Many analysts previously argued that any popular movement in Syria could send shockwaves through the region, and eventually alter its geopolitical map.

Increasingly, the popular protest has taken a form that is reminiscent of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, prompting angry people to organise themselves to counter a violent regime seeking to quell their revolt.

While the revolution is gaining more support, the regime is losing credibility, a situation that is likely to lead the conflict to an abrupt tipping point. Fearing that incidents in Syria will have a wider impact, neighbouring countries have grown concerned, yet there is no sign that they need to declare an alert on the borders.

In the meantime, countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Turkey are trying to handle their own problems, which cannot be attributed to events in Syria. However, Lebanon might, in the long term, be affected by any major political changes in Syria.

Lebanese sects are closely monitoring the situation in Syria, which will possibly change the political landscape and may also produce a new pact among different Lebanese political forces.


A step before the final exit in Yemen

"Last week I wrote an article entitled The Yemeni president before the audiotape," wrote Tareq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat. "Today we entered a further phase marked by an attempt to assassinate him. He survived and left for Saudi Arabia for treatment. So is this his final exit?"

This matter is open to all possibilities. His departure for treatment can either be the beginning of a breakthrough in Yemen's crisis or the start of worse scenarios after the situation slid to bloody clashes in Sanaa.

Practically, the rule of Mr Saleh became over as soon as the palace came under attack and many government buildings were occupied. This raises the question of whether the regime has any more legitimacy. Moreover, Mr Saleh's departure to Saudi Arabia may mean Yemen has entered a new but critical phase.

It is expected that the presidential palace will fall into the hands of the protesters, and so mark an end of Mr Saleh's regime, especially since there are divisions among his aides. Violent fighting is expected continue over power. This is the worst that can happen.

The third possibility is that Mr Saleh's departure can be a first step for him before stepping down for health reasons and handing over power to a government figure close to him.


Moment of truth may turn to one of remorse

In a leader article in the UAE newspaper Emarat Al Youm, the editor-in-chief Sami al Ryami criticised Arabs for a lack of innovation in producing television programmes.

"Arabs' failure in innovation is nothing new or strange. But what is most strange is that we are unable to imitate famous shows, because we fail to understand what can be suitable to our communities."

There are significant differences in values between East and West. "In the West, for example, money is the foundation of other values. This is the way it goes. In the West, the game show The Moment of Truth is successful because there are no restrictions on the questions or answers. There is no issue with social values and ethics as long as the money is there to win."

Every answer means more dollars in cash. So it is natural for a participant to acknowledge that she has betrayed her husband to win $1,000. And it is more natural to answer how many times she has done it, because every answer accounts for more thousands.

Trying to copy a version of that show in the Arab world would backfire. What is the added value of revealing to the wider public that a son wishes he had a different kind of father, or a husband confides he has regretted marrying his wife?

"That is not a moment of truth, but one of vulnerability to the lure of money,to be followed by a moment of deep remorse."

Arab reforms turned out to be deadly

"Cucumbers look attractive due to their aerodynamic shape and brilliant green colour," remarked Abdullah Iskandar in a commentary for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

But cucumbers are now accused of carrying deadly strains of a bacteria that is hard to treat. It was confirmed that the type bacteria has been discovered for the first time.

In the Arab world, a similar discovery dated back to some decades. It was a sort of "cucumber" which, like the real one, has proved harmful.

We are talking about a project that once made the headlines: the Arab reform that came followed the defeat of 1967, the Naksa.

In many Arab countries, governments undertook reforms to overcome the bitterness of the loss in war, but they remained only decorative ones. In the name of reform, many regimes sought to legitimise themselves before their people. This happened in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.

Like the cucumber strains, the Arab reform was employed as a cover to proceed with unpopular policies that oppressed basic freedoms and sent off thousands to jail.



* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi