x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Same old, Same old in Yemen

Nothing seems to change in Yemen, an Arabic-language editorial notes, because President Ali Abdullah Saleh is just so good at stalling for time. Other topics today: the observers in Syria and the fight against addiction.

Nothing changes in Yemen, as Saleh works to win a peaceful retirement and family control

Everything in Yemen is the "same old, same old": protests continue in city squares, President Ali Abdullah Saleh is always in his palace in Sanaa and the GCC initiative is still stalling, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi said in its editorial.

The one thing that changed, however, the editorial went on, is that the Yemeni vice president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, who has been in the shadows for decades, has finally spoken to express his exasperation with the incessant interference of the outgoing president and his family members in his present management of the transitional period.

"Mr Mansur Hadi was assigned to the position of vice president not to complain or speak out, but rather to remain silent and be an insignificant piece of decor," said the paper.

"Therefore, his threats to leave the country unless interference in his affairs stops may have put him in the way of danger."

President Saleh intends to remain in power for life, whether as the effective president or as an honorary figure. He isn't a man that gives up easily. This is the message he has been trying to get across.

"Manoeuvring for time is the only thing President Saleh believes in, and years of practice have given him unparalleled expertise in this domain even if it prolonged the suffering of the Yemeni people and caused the total collapse of the country's economy," added the paper.

It is hard at present to predict how the situation will turn out.

What is certain however is that the vice president's threats won't change anything.

In fact, President Saleh wants him to despair and leave Yemen, as did some other officials who have chosen to practice opposition in exile.

Mr Mansur Hadi doesn't have an army and doesn't control a security apparatus. He doesn't hail from an influential tribe; all he has is extensive military experience, and that doesn't mean much in a country ruled by tribalism.

His days in authority may be as numbered as the days of the GCC-brokered deal he is hopelessly trying to implement.

"President Saleh didn't accept the Gulf initiative with the intent of abiding by its provisions. What he wants is to perpetuate his regime the way he had planned it, by retaining power within his family circle, which would guarantee him a quiet resignation, an objective that the US surely supports," opined the paper.

In reality, Washington's interests in Yemen are restricted to the fight against Al Qaeda.

And the current Yemeni regime is serving these American interests, and shows readiness to continue serving them until the end.

Decisions on Syria pave the way to UN

A reading of the Arab foreign ministers committee meeting in Cairo on Sunday, and a close review of the report filed by the Arab observers, confirm beyond doubt that the Syrian case is on its way to the UN Security Council, suggested the Saudi internet daily Al Watan Online.

This is happening not through the efforts of the observers or the committee, but by the efforts of the Syrian regime itself, the paper said.

The ministerial committee said bluntly that the Arab observers mission in Syria will continue until Damascus puts an end to the killings that have been on the rise since the arrival of the observers.

The regime's continuing crimes, its unreasonable obstinacy and its persistence in dealing with protesters as terrorists will eventually take the case to its natural end.

"The discussions and debates among the members of the committee is in fact evidence of the soundness of the Arab body," opined the paper. "A case of this calibre can upset the balances in the region. Haste is to be averted in these circumstances."

The findings of the committee of foreign ministers didn't please the Syrian opposition that had been anticipating a clear condemnation of the regime. At the same time, they upset the Assad regime, which was expecting the sort of results which usually came from the Arab League in the times when the public interest had little weight.

Schools must fight against addiction

In the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan, columnist Fadila Al Mueini tackled the issue of student drug use across the UAE.

"It is high time we admit to the widespread drug addiction among schoolchildren," she said. Narcotic substances of all kinds are readily accessible to students in an unprecedented way. "This requires a serious and firm stance by various institutions to put a stop to this vice before it is too late."

The lack of specialised social workers in schools compounds the issue, since there is no proper follow-up on students. Surveillance cameras in halls and throughout school premises cannot alone counter addiction.

"Some boys' schools especially need to impose regular medical tests and analyses on students," the writer suggested. "In some cases, there may be a need to resort to police assistance in drug-related cases. What's more, military training has become a must in education curricula for it would serve to strengthen teenagers who are becoming closer to molluscs nowadays."

Of course the main question here is why aren't parents doing their job of monitoring their children's behaviour. We should not be forced to resort to the Ministry of Interior to try to find a solution for this problem, the writer concluded.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem