x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Syrian forces should be held accountable for violence

Letters discuss Obama's speech, hikes in school fee, protecting dogs from summer heat, rise of thrifty chic and British presence in the UAE.

Syrian anti-government protesters rally in Banias last month. A reader condemns Damascus for its violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrations. AFP
Syrian anti-government protesters rally in Banias last month. A reader condemns Damascus for its violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrations. AFP

Contrary to many Middle Easterners' expectations, the May 19 speech by President Barack Obama at the US State Department did not clearly address the "very core issue" of the region:  the Israel-Palestine conflict (Deadlock as Israeli PM visits Obama, May 21). And his public support of 1967 borders was simply stating an old fact, not anything really newsworthy.

A quick look back at the recent relevant historic events shows on one side the West-backed Israel, while on the other side the betrayed and disunited Arab nations struggle.

The 63-year-old issue has given rich raw material to all non-moderate Arab groups as well to non-Palestinian elements of Middle East politics including the West, Israelis and Iranians to exploit the issue to suit their own agendas.

Ideally, the recent Arab Spring could have changed the landscape of Middle East politics by motivating the post-neo con US government to become a genuine supporter of the Arab democracy movement and turn itself into an honest broker of peace once and for all. But the Obama speech proved to be business as usual.

It is not a fantasy to imagine that a win-win resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute could strip hardliners from all sides of their peace-obstructing agenda and would sooner or later lead to the realisation of Arab aspirations.

Arjang  Arjangian, Dubai

Schools continue to raise fees

In reference to the article Fees, fees everywhere, but no school pool in sight (May 20), one wonders how the two schools manage to swing fee increases. How can such a seeming double standard exist when fees are regulated by the government?

Fees are raised while common sense and ethics are left on the side. With so few options parents are left unable to mount any kind of defence against the greed of private education. As long as so many companies continue to pay the full tuition without question, fees will keep going up and those companies who cap education allowances will have trouble retaining and hiring.

Donald Glass, Dubai

Dog owners need more awareness

Almost two years ago, The National ran an article by Leah Oatway regarding the care of dogs in the summer here in the Emirates (Even a walk on a hot summer day could kill your dog, June 25, 2009).

Please could you run it again as in Jumeirah, there appear to be many people who feel being outside with a dog, chattering with friends for long periods of time, is "a walk".

Also, as said in the article, dogs get hot very quickly here, and with the red bricks making up the sidewalks, the sun's heat is retained through the night and the walks burn the dogs' feet. Just try to stand on them even at 10am and see.

Since there are now so many very hairy dogs here and many "newbies", a rerun of this article may be very useful to us all.

Gail Gordon, Dubai

Syrian forces must be accountable

The article, 34 die in 'another bloody Friday' (May 21) was sad and painful to read. Today, everywhere, people are looking for change, after seeing the changes in the Arab world.

Damascus was also looking for change, and the people have been protesting against the government for the past three months. Killing the protesters for their demands is not ethical, and the Syrian government has rightly been condemned by human rights activists. I pray for the innocent victims and their grieving family members.

K Ragavan, India

Never show your untidy closet

Loved the article Recessionistas' and the rise of thrifty chic (May 20).

But Paula, Paula, Paula before letting someone into your closet make sure it's tidy and, horror upon horror, NO wire hangers! I will gladly come and organise what should be one of your pride and joys.

Lee-Avinne O'Farrell (aka Joan Crawford), Abu Dhabi

Britain never 'occupied' UAE

The article Our Super highway to the future (May 21) stated "In the late 1950s ... the British, who occupied the UAE at the time ..."

This is factually incorrect on two counts: first, the UAE did not exist in the late 1950s; second, the British never "occupied" the sheikhdoms that preceded the UAE.

The Trucial States, as they were known, were a British Protectorate, which meant that Britain controlled external relations and "advised" on internal affairs. To call this relationship (however unequal it was and based on Britain's imperial interests) an "occupation" is to do an injustice to those people who genuinely suffer under the presence of foreign troops on their land. Please choose your words more carefully.

Philip Bowler, Dubai