x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Testing the Arab League

The Arab League has accomplished little on Syria but this could change next Saturday, when the league considers recognition for the opposition, an Arabic language editorialist writes. Other topics in today's Arabic opinion roundup: Israel's arrogance, Emirati media and a new deal for the West and Arab States.

Arab League's resolve on Syria to be tested

The Syrian opposition had described the Arab League initiative as a lifeline for the regime and an attempt to keep it in power, but they were mistaken, said Abdulbari Atwan, the editor of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper.

Their analysis was off the mark not because the Syrian regime aborted the initiative after only one day by not implementing any of its terms, but because the Arab states that stand behind the initiative didn't intend for it to succeed in the first place.

"The US administration was too early to uncover and burn the Arab cards when it warned Syrian armed militants against yielding to their government's offer to pardon those who give themselves up, which gave the regime spokesmen enough evidence to prove that America is interfering in the country's internal affairs," he said.

The real test for the Arab League will be during its next foreign ministers meeting next Saturday where many anticipate a number of punitive measures against the Damascus regime.

These measures could include recognition by some Arab states of the Syrian National Transitional Council as a representative of the Syrian people, the support of the establishment of no-fly zones or buffer zones and emphasising the economic siege with special focus on the commercial areas that are still supporting the regime.

Israel grows arrogant as Palestine vote nears

Israel has been hysterical with the approach of the much-anticipated UN Security Council vote on Palestine's permanent membership, especially now that it has been voted a member of Unesco, said an editorial in the Dubai-based Al Bayan newspaper.

While the entire world holds its breath for the outcome of the statehood vote, Israel, in a pre-emptive move, announced a settlement expansion that would swallow the West Bank's territories with 62,000 new units to be constructed in the near future. That is in addition to Tel Aviv's decision to stop transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.

"Israel presses ahead with its policy of aggression and oppression of the Palestinian people," the paper said. "It must realise that the Palestinians have never been more adamant on reclaiming their rights and the entire world stands witness of Israel's arrogance."

The international community is called upon to assume its responsibilities in supporting the Palestinians' right to an independent, sovereign state according to UN Resolution 194 that provides for the establishment of two states in Palestine.

The Palestinian people will not be excluded from the Arab Spring's winds of change and it is at this moment the Arabs must come together to assist Palestinians to secure a victory in this diplomatic war.

Media can bolster the UAE's national identity

In any country, national identity hinges on some key institutions, namely the family, schools and media outlets, wrote Ahmed Al Mansouri, an Emirati writer for the Abu Dhabi-based Al Ittihad newspaper.

So when the performance of any of these institutions falls, attempts to consolidate national identity suffer.

The Media and National Identity Forum, which was organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi last month, shed light on the potential shortcomings of the local media's role in shoring up national identity.

Some of today's national television stations care less about national identity and more about commercialising their product and making it advert-attractive, he wrote.

That said, aligning the goals of the consolidation of national identity with commercial profitability is definitely possible. "The two are not mutually exclusive," the writer observed. "All it takes is creativity and perseverance to achieve … success stories are not few. Take the Million's Poet show, for instance, the Yola competition [traditional gun dance], or the local cartoon Freej."

But that is not enough; national media institutions need to continue to integrate features of Emirati culture more strongly into their strategic programming schemes.

A new deal between West and Arab world

Realists in the United States and Europe have talked for some time about the need to strike a "big deal" with Arab nations whereby western powers would collectively change their political approach to the Middle East and North Africa region, noted Mansour Al Jamri, editor of the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat, in a column yesterday.

This "big deal" is possible to reach. The right environment for it to start to take root is taking shape. Tunisia is a good example.

"This 'big deal' will be practicable when Arab leaders - moderate Islamists who are not anti-western - who are chosen by the people actually come to power," the editor said.

"That's when a tough political nut will crack: the West's strategic approach has always been that the interests of the US and Europe were exclusively achievable under despotic regimes, because the belief was that any democratisation project will only bring anti-western governments to power."

The winds of the Arab Spring have the potential to change the people-power paradigm in the Arab world, and by the same token, alter the old ties between the Arab region and the world.





* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk