x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Syrian people need a cease-fire

A brief truce for Eid would not help the regime, and the Syrian people are desperate for a break, an Arabic columnist says. Today's other topics are Iraqi views on Syria and Malala Yousafzai.

Eid truce proposal deserves support, because the Syrian people are desperate for a respite

The thorniest of the problems in Syria's bloody conflict is the fury with which the warring parties react to calls for dialogue, Abdel Bari Atwan observed in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

"The political solutions are unacceptable, and so are calls for dialogue, and the outcome is hundreds of deaths every day, among fighters and civilians, and further destruction," he wrote.

On Tuesday, after months of inertia, the Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby invited the Syrian government and the armed opposition to a truce during the Eid Al Adha holiday starting on October 26.

"The call to a ceasefire was originally made by the United Nations envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, and the Arab League decided to milk it, to give the impression that it is not inactive and still committed to its mission of finding a way out of the bloody crisis," the writer noted.

The paradox is that Mr Elaraby, who is now enthusiastic about Mr Lakhdar's proposal, had asserted, just one day before his call for a truce, that there was no political solution to the Syrian issue.

Some groups from the opposition, especially those outside Syria, hastened to dismiss Mr Brahimi's proposal as providing a breathing space to the regime - a "hasty reaction that changed only after the Syrian National Council, urged possibly by some parties, accepted the armistice".

The writer went on to say that the wide response to the UN envoy's call for an urgent peaceful solution denotes a kind of fatigue observable among some parties that are backing the opposition.

The former UN envoy, Kofi Annan, was widely rebuked, from both Arab and western quarters, for visiting Tehran. But although Mr Brahimi went to Iran, Iraq, Riyadh, Beirut and on Tuesday to Damascus, no Arab country denounced the visit, he noted.

Mr Brahimi's proposed truce is the only initiative available at present after all the others have disappeared. So it must be given every chance to succeed, for the simple reason that this would save the lives of at least 1,000 people, he argued.

The regime does not need a truce to reinforce itself. It has aircraft and tanks to use against the opposition's light weapons. The opposition arsenal has been magnified in some reporting, creating a misconception about the fighting.

"It is the Syrian people, disregarded by many, that needs this truce, to treat the injured, bury the dead, seek food for children, and restore a part of their demolished houses," he observed.

The ceasefire should not be a respite, but a step towards trying something other than killing and havoc, an effort to bring normality back Syrians, who yearn for a time without bereavements.

A truce would give some room for the wise from both sides to work towards a political solution that can stop the bloodshed, the writer concluded.

Malala just one victim in a world of horrors

Why did one story from Pakistan draw such unprecedented global interest, Lebanese columnist Diana Mkalled asked in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat, when more atrocious tragedies go unnoticed elsewhere?

Last week, Taliban militants viciously attacked 14-year-old Swat schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai for writing a blog about wanting to go to school. The attack captured the world's attention.

"Malala's crime is that she 'committed learning' under a regime that criminalises the education of women," the writer said.

Shot point blank, the brave little girl survived and is getting treatment in the UK.

"Malala became the heroine who spoke to global public opinion, and moved it to the point where different governments are vying to finance her treatment," the writer added.

The elements of the story are ideal for the media. But the story came about in a time filled with sad and shocking stories. Nothing disturbs us any more; big crimes, small crimes, they've become the same to us.

Uninhibited murder surrounds us. In Syria, it doesn't distinguish between foetuses in their mothers' wombs and elderly people on their deathbeds. Everybody is susceptible to murder.

"The disastrous aspect of this reality is that due to the lack of appropriate reactions, we have become physically, mentally and emotionally incapable," the writer said.

Iraqis concerned over Syrian regime's fate

There is a great anxiety among both politicians and citizens in Iraq over the repercussions for their country of the Syrian regime's fall, wrote the Iraqi writer Hamid Al Kifae in an article in the pages of the London-based daily Al Hayat.

"Such concerns are justifiable and not illusional as some imagine," the writer noted.

The anti-Iraq groups departing from secular Syria during the period 2003-2010 killed thousands from all faiths and sects, and destroyed mosques, churches and infrastructure.

So what would be the case under a Syrian hardline religious rule, which could offer such terrorist groups material and moral support and join in hostilities towards the Iraqi government?

Nobody seems to have an answer to such a serious question.

Some might say that the Iraqi stance is influenced by Iran.

That may be partly true, but given that Iraq seeks to work with its neighbour to establish stability in the region, the truth is that Iraqis are increasingly concerned about the future safety and integrity of their country, explained the writer.

What president Bashar Al Assad did to Iraqis by arming and allowing gunmen to cross into their country as part of his "relentless war" is hard to forget.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk