x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

There's no conspiracy, just discord

Hamas leaders claiming to detect a conspiracy behind power blackouts should concentrate on real problems instead, says an Arabic-language columnist. Other topics: Saif Al Islam and Syrian duplicity.

Gaza rulers must blame themselves, not any 'conspiracy ghost', for the power crisis there

The Hamas government in Gaza has launched an arrest campaign against Gazans who dare blame the local authorities for a severe power shortage that left the territory in a near-complete blackout for several weeks, wrote Rassem Al Madhoun, a contributor to the West Bank-based newspaper Al Quds.

"The news here is not really the arrests, the persecution or the striking number of summonses issued," the writer said. "The novelty, in fact, lies in the accusations levelled at the citizens of Gaza … which are completely outlandish."

One such accusation is "spreading rumours about alleged social crises - particularly related to electricity supply - with the intent of overthrowing the Hamas government", the writer said.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah - which governs the West Bank - have dominated the Palestinian scene in recent weeks, after several months of hope that the two rival factions would translate into reality the reconciliation deal they both signed.

But on a recent Friday, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Gaza, calling for "exposing the conspiracy" that has left the Gaza Strip in the dark.

The power shortages are due to the lack of a fuel that feeds Gaza's power-generation stations. It has been reported that Hamas has accused the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank of "conspiring" with Israeli officials to cut fuel supplies to Gaza, to stoke the anger of Gazan residents against Hamas and bring down their government there.

"It seems that the Hamas government cares less about finding real solutions to real problems … and more about finding the handy and tested escape-exit solutions: like blaming the now-notorious 'ghost' that is running around in Gaza and distracting Hamas officials from running the territory's affairs properly," the writer said.

That is the "ghost" of conspiracy. For each of their failures, Hamas leaders are always quick to point the finger at the "bad guys in Ramallah", he went on, referring to Fatah officials.

Given this amount of denial, one can safely say that "Hamas is going through a crisis", the writer argued. "A multifaceted, multilayered crisis."

There is politics in there, the economy, plus a difficulty in dealing with "the other," the writer noted, referring to Fatah.

Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah and the PA, was tasked with forming a unity government to rule over both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the reconciliation deal. But in truth Hamas is scared to let go of its undivided power over the Gaza Strip, which it has monopolised since 2006, the writer said.

Hamas must get to the bottom of its fears and ask itself: Is it ready to work with the other and accept plurality?


Assad regime's change shouldn't surprise us

The Assad regime had every right to announce on Sunday that the dictator will not withdraw his forces from cities, as per Kofi Annan's plan, said Tariq Al Homayed, editor of the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

The foreign ministry said the entire withdrawal of forces issue was a mere misinterpretation.

"The Assad regime was entitled to allege that it was misunderstood - because it was a mistake in the first place to believe that it would actually agree to Annan's plan," the writer argued.

The international community is well aware that the Syrian regime has never fulfilled a promise. It is after all most renowned for being manipulative and devious.

For his part, and in reaction to the Damascus retraction, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, expressed shock about the level of violence in Syria.

"If Annan is shocked, then what would the Syrians who are getting killed in cold blood every day have to say?" the editor asked.

Most puzzling is the world's silence awaiting the deadline, as they watch the regime press ahead with massacres. It's almost as if the lives of those murdered have no value.

"Who will be held accountable for these crimes? Who will punish Al Assad?" asked Al Homayed. "The international community didn't just misunderstand the Assad regime; it conspired with it granting it one deadline after the other and allowing it free rein to slaughter the Syrians."

Battle over the fate of Saif Al Islam continues

An open conflict rages between the Libyan government and the International Criminal Court over the prosecution of Saif Al Islam, son of Muammar Qaddafi, columnist Mazen Hammad wrote in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

Libya continues to defy the ICC by insisting on prosecuting him in Tripoli,

Once the heir apparent to the Qaddafi rule, Saif Al Islam was captured by Libyan authorities last November, the writer reminded his readers.

Since his capture the ICC, which accuses him of war crimes, has been requesting that he be handed over to its custody.

But Tripoli holds on to what it claims is its right to prosecute him on Libyan territory, since the crimes he committed were local. Libya has scheduled his trial to begin as promptly as April 13, next Friday.

"Sources believe that Saif Al Islam could be sentenced to death should he be tried in Libya; a sentence that isn't recognised by the ICC," said the writer.

"The new Libyan government's refusal to cooperate with the ICC raises questions about its commitment to international law," he added.

Such a challenge entails considerable risk for a budding government that depends largely on international aid.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk