x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Russia unmoved by Syrian massacres

The role of the "free world" during the violence in Syria comes under scrutiny. Other Arabic newspapers question likely delays in the Libyan elections and examine the nature of faith.

Even child massacres are not moving Russia or the 'free world' to the Syrian people's rescue

"The reaction of the international community every time a massacre is perpetrated in Syria remains far too inadequate, despite the fact that those lives are taken in cold blood by a regime that can no longer survive without killing," wrote columnist Walid Shuqair in yesterday's edition of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

Just two weeks ago, more than 100 people were massacred, almost half of them women and children, in the rural region of Houla, in Homs Province. In a show of outrage, a number of western nations, including France, the United Kingdom and the United States, expelled Syrian ambassadors.

"Although the measure was rather unprecedented - we're talking here about ambassadors, not just consular diplomats - this show of anger hits the ceiling of what the international community is capable of doing in the absence of a unified, deterrent international stance on Syria," the columnist said.

Massacres keep happening in Syria, almost 16 months into the Syrian uprising, precisely due to this continued lack of concrete deterrent measures, he noted.

Just last week opposition activists said at least 78 people, including children, were shot or stabbed. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is still divided on how to prevent more bloodshed.

A BBC correspondent travelling with the UN observer mission in Syria tweeted: "The stench of burnt flesh is still strong." Activists told him that government forces had removed the bodies while the UN's convoy was barred for two days from entering the village.

But where is the free world?

By making statements to the effect that America can't prevent all the world's atrocities, US President Barack Obama, too busy in an election year, inadvertently gives the perpetrators of those massacres some leeway, the columnist went on.

"They get reassurance that the international response will be confined to the usual form of verbal condemnation."

But Washington can't take the bulk of the blame for the continuing thuggery and bloodletting in Syria, the writer added. Russia, which pins the violence in Syria on "foreign interference" and "armed groups" and never strictly on the regime, offers lame pretexts for the brutality that the regime unleashes.

Moscow has used, if not abused, its veto power at the Security Council to protect the regime of President Bashar Al Assad, arguably its last Arab ally in the Middle East. So when it says Mr Al Assad does not have to remain in power for a diplomatic solution to be reached in Syria, something doesn't quite add up.

Constantly blocking Security Council resolutions against the Syrian regime neither stops the killing nor unseats President Al Assad, the writer said. "Absurdly, it just perpetuates both."

Libyan elections delay: stability will suffer

The elections for a national assembly that will draft Libya's constitution are likely to be deferred, threatening to extend for an unknown period of time the "fluid" security situation in the country, wrote Sameh Rashed in the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej at the weekend.

"A shroud of uncertainty is looming over the first big elections in Libya in over 50 years," he said.

"Whereas some concrete procedural factors may justify this likely deferral of the elections, just the bare idea of postponement may open the door for all sorts of speculation, not to mention the effect it might have on the country's already fragile political stability."

By trying to register, as voters or as candidates, many Libyans have been actively taking part in the pre-elections process.

That is probably one of the reasons the time allotted for registration had to be extended by one week, putting the whole process one week behind schedule, the writer noted.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council, said the time it takes to look into appeals about the validity of some candidates' applications might also require the elections to be postponed.

"But that is still astonishing," the writer noted. "Since the very beginning, it was known that appeals will take time and they were slotted into the schedule."

What do you really know about Allah?

"Someone was telling me about a period of atheism he went through at one point in his intellectual life, after he had failed to find satisfactory answers to many of the questions that were haunting him," Yasser Hareb, an Emirati writer, wrote in his column for the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan yesterday.

"The man said: 'I became an atheist, and sinned left and right, but there was something deep down that was telling me there must be a God in those heavens,'" Hareb wrote.

"So as he started reading about scientific materialism, studying energy science and looking at the works of a range of philosophers, he began to find his way back to Allah," Hareb went on.

Like this man, there are many people who embrace Islam after they sink their teeth into its rational and existential dimensions. And these people generally tend to be more tolerant than many of those who have taken Islam for granted since birth, according to Hareb.

"It is very rare to come across a 'new Muslim' who accuses others of apostasy," he noted.

"Some of us love Allah but don't really know Him. We fear His wrath more than we hope for His mercy … Yet we ought to believe in Him with our minds and senses so we will worship Him ever faithfully," he concluded.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk