x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

'The natural end of any tyrant'

A former Libyan PM calls Muammar Qaddafi's death "the natural end of any tyrant". Other Arabic-language comment topics: Tunisia as the new Turkey, polygamy vs. bikinis and Israeli extremists.

'The natural end of any tyrant': Libyan ex-PM

Abdessalam Jalloud, Libyan prime minister from 1972 to 1977 and a close comrade of Libya's now deposed and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, gave a long interview to the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat only two days before Qaddafi's death.

The newspaper published the first instalment of the interview yesterday.

The death of Qaddafi, Mr Jalloud said, would be "the natural end of any tyrant. Other despots must learn from it."

Mr Jalloud joined the revolution and fled Libya in August, with the help of the rebels. His departure bolstered the perception then that the Qaddafi regime was falling apart.

Mr Jalloud answered questions ranging from whether Libya ever sought to buy an atom bomb from China in the 1970s to the suspected involvement of Qaddafi in the disappearance of the prominent Iranian-Lebanese Shiite cleric, Mussa Al Sadr, in 1978.

"The [atom bomb] story … is not true," Mr Jalloud said. "I went to China with a proposition for a collaboration that would enable us to produce a nuclear weapon. We were young and our motivation stemmed from anger at the fact that Israel owned a nuclear weapon."

"The Chinese prime minister [then] explained to me that such collaboration requires an industrial infrastructure and a level of technological advancement that were not available in Libya."


Is Tunisia heralding the Arab world's Turkey?

"The Arabs are looking forward to their own version of Turkey," columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed wrote in Friday's edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

"So will Tunisia's Islamic party, Ennahda, become their answer to the Justice and Development Party in Turkey? And will Rached Ghannouchi, the Ennahda party leader, become the Arab match to [the Turkish premier] Recep Tayyip Erdogan?"

Awaiting answers to such questions is part of the reason why developments in Tunisia, the writer went on, are of more consequence to the Arab world than might be expected from the small size and modest means of the country.

Optimists see in Ennahda's large-margin victory in Tunisia's national elections last week yet another harbinger of a new political system taking root in the Arab region, one that is led by moderate Islamic parties in the manner of Turkey and Malaysia.

Pessimists, on the other hand, fear that Ennahda might well be a classic fundamentalist, authoritarian movement - like Hamas or Hizbollah - hiding under the cover of an open-minded, tolerant Islamic party, the writer said.

This much is certain for now: Ennahda has not been tested yet. Any suspicions one may have, as a result of the party's previous contradictory statements, ought to be put on hold until it gets its fair chance in government.


Don't limit freedom to 'polygamy' or 'bikinis'

The head of the National Transitional Council in Libya, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, said during the NTC's "liberation" speech, following the killing of deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi this month, that Sharia will be the main source of legislation in the new Libya. That means a man's right to marry more than one woman will be guaranteed.

Columnist Yasser Hareb, writing in the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan yesterday, said Mr Abdul Jalil was not the only Arab Muslim leader to have made such a reductive statement on rights and freedoms lately.

In Tunisia, the leader of the Islamic party Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi, said in the lead-up to the country's first post-revolution national elections, which were held last week, that his party was not planning to shut down bars and mixed-gender beaches, and won't ban bikinis.

"I wish we had heard from these otherwise respectable men something more serious - something to do with the future of their respective economies, for example," the columnist said. "It isn't fair to reduce Sharia to talk about polygamy … nor is it wise to reduce freedoms to just alcohol drinking and bikini wearing."

The national income should now be a more pressing question for Libya than multiple wives.

"It's as if we're back to the Salafi period, where women are seen as the one thing wrong with civilisation."


Israeli right targets freed Palestinians

An Israeli magazine revealed on Friday that right-wing Israeli extremists have launched "an incitement campaign" against the recently-released Palestinian prisoners, the West Bank-based newspaper Al Quds said in an editorial yesterday.

The organisers of this campaign have reportedly hired private investigators to watch the released Palestinians, particularly those residing in Jerusalem.

The campaign organisers are also said to have circulated the names, pictures and addresses of these Palestinians, warning the Israeli public about them.

Israelis have reportedly also been encouraged to evict those Palestinians from Jerusalem neighbourhoods, the newspaper said. It added that "this kind of incitement" is dangerous for those liberated prisoners. "It's a potential life threat."

What's more, Al Quds went on, one of the prominent figures of this anti-Palestinian campaign, Aryeh King, told the Israeli magazine that the campaign was perfectly legal.

"What these [Israeli] extremists fail to notice is that those liberated prisoners have simply returned to their own land, to their own town … and if there is any danger out there, it is the danger of continued occupation and radical extremism."


* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi