x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Preserving Syria is more important than seeking revenge

Pursuing a fight until the end may not be in the nation's best interests, a newspaper says. Other comment in the Arabic-language media concerns Egypt's new prime minister and its ties with Gaza.

Prior to the blast in the National Security building in Damascus that killed a number of top military officials, a Russian communiqué had revealed that Damascus would be willing to agree to a solution similar to the one implemented in Yemen. This means that president Bashar Al Assad would step down and a consensual government would be declared, said the columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

But Russia appended a note to its approval to make it clear that this was a mere formality aimed to appease the opposition and keep the Assad regime in the main power positions. However, the Arab mediation side rejected the proposal.

Then the National Security building was attacked and the rebels made their way to the heart of Damascus. Soon enough, they imposed their control over border exits.

"All of a sudden, word got out that the regime and its allies are willing to accept a Yemeni-style solution, but how serious they are this time remains to be known," said the writer. "Perhaps the regime is ready to pack up and leave unless it was mistakenly lured by its momentary successes in countering the rebels in confrontation areas, including Damascus."

But, the question to be raised here is whether the president's readiness to step down is a matter worthy of deliberation and negotiation or has the offer already expired and it is only a matter of time until the rebels take over the presidential palace?

The Syrians are divided among themselves on this matter. One team agrees to negotiations and to a peaceful transition of power, while another team sees that the deadline for negotiations is up and is adamant on fighting until the end.

"Although emotions are more inclined to support the second team that is calling for pressing ahead with the fighting, reason and past experiences warn of dire repercussions," opined Al Rashed. "The regime's fall is almost a certainty in view of the substantial gains the fighters have been reaping on the battlefield, but the situation is still tricky due to the regime's considerable military capabilities."

The Assad regime has been using its arsenal of aircrafts, tanks and artillery guns. Under the protection of the Russian veto, nothing guarantees that it wouldn't commit additional massacres. Then, Mr Al Assad could flee to Iran or Russia.

What's more, a fight till the end may lead to the total collapse of the army and the security institutions. More than half a million military men would become members of chaotic armed gangs spread across Syria.

Dismantling the state isn't in Syria's national interest. It would only throw a freed country into sedition and internal fighting fuelled by external parties such as Russia, Iran and Hizbollah.

Egypt softens its stance towards Hamas

Egypt's attitude towards Hamas is shifting rapidly following the revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime in February 2011, commented the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial yesterday.

On the invitation of Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh has started an official visit to Egypt, for the first time since Hamas took power in Gaza.

This is a clear shift from Egypt under Mubarak. But no wonder, Hamas is the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and the first Islamist movement to assume power in the Arab world, years before the Arab Spring.

Mr Haniyeh carries to Mr Morsi the woes of two million Gazans who have been under terrible times. They are set to address the opening of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing of Rafah, the only gate to the outside world for Gazans, and the supply of electricity and fuel from Egypt.

"To be sure, President Morsi understands the distress of Gazans and Palestinians at large, and seeks to end their sufferings at the airports and border crossings," the editorial said. "But certain security bodies are still following the former regime's policies and resisting change."

Reconciliation is yet another more important issue. But expectations should not be too high when it comes to this matter.



Naming a new prime minister no easy task

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's has named the outgoing water minister Hisham Qandil on Tuesday as the new prime minister and tasked him with forming a cabinet, a decision that has come as a surprise to many who think that Mr Qandil lacks expertise in addressing the country's economic woes.

In the Cairo-based daily Al Shorouk, Fahmi Huwaidi wrote that there must good reasons behind appointing Mr Qandil other than his expertise in irrigation.

But the public has a right to know the premier's qualities, because the selection standards of Egypt's prime minister after the revolution must be different from the ones under Mubarak.

To be sure, finding the right person for this post was no easy task for Mr Morsi. Besides personal and professional competence, the president had to find someone who is not from the Brotherhood, with no affiliation to any political party or group, who must not be too old like most Arab officials, and be pro-revolution.

No doubt, there has been a failure to find a perfect match for the requirements of the position. And it is highly possible that a continued balance has been sought between the dispensable and the minimum requirements.



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk