x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ahmadinejad's visit causes many to worry

The Iranian president is a source of concern among Arabs who fear Iran becoming the most influential state in the region at their expense, according to the lead editorial in London's Al Hayat newspaper.

"It is natural that the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is visiting Lebanon in response to an official invitation because Iran is an important regional country and it is in Lebanon's best interest to keep friendly relations with it," wrote Ghassan Sherbel in a lead commentary for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat

In 2003, Beirut welcomed the then Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, who highly praised Lebanon, saying before a crowd of greeters: "Lebanon was a jewel shining in a pitch dark night, which many would like to smash under the hammer of aggression and occupation."

The timing of the present visit brings new facts: a different president with a different approach to foreign policies, a new geopolitical situation with a less influential US in comparison to how it was seven years ago, and an increasingly weaker Arab world. Mr Ahmadinejad is a source of concern among Arabs who fear Iran becoming the most influential state in the region at their expense. 

They are equally worried about the fact that Tehran is yearning for both a leading role and a nuclear bomb.

The visit will definitely raise questions about the position of Lebanon regionally and internationally in the near future as well about the nature of balance of power among Lebanese political players. 

Al Qa'eda strengthens its media campaign 

"Christopher Boucek, a researcher in Yemeni affairs at the US Carnegie Institute, considered the release by al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula of an electronic bulletin magazine as evidence that the group was vigilant and alert," wrote Mazen Hammad in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

Mr Boucek said this when commenting on the second issue of Inspire, an English-language publication that features instructions on how to kill westerners. One of the contributors, for example, suggested to randomly strike a restaurant in Washighton, which may result in the killing of some government officials. The October issue, as seen by a specialised tracking search engine, came in time to commemorate the attack on the US navy vessel Cole in the Gulf of Aden in 2000.

The magazine's content also reveals that al Qa'eda encourages terrorists to use simple tools and attack smaller scale targets instead of major operations which are easy to foil. Other ideas put forward are related to how to use fast trucks to roll over large numbers of people. It also includes two articles by Anwar al Awlaki, who is wanted by US authorities for his involvement in the attempt to blow up an airplane over Detroit.

Mr Boucek concluded that such a publication, supported by multimedia, would likely expand the group's operations and advertise its activities. 

Arab League needs to undertake reform 

"Arab joint action represented by the Arab League system, needs reform," noted the UAE daily newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial. There is an obvious need as we live in a fast changing world. But before undertaking any reform, this should be comprehensive. A benchmark needs to be established to assess methodically the shortcomings of the Arab League, and above all the analysis should be objective.

What is more, the organisation should set for itself workable operational mechanisms that are able to help members take resolutions that match new regional and international developments, and at the same time safeguard the rights of Arabs. The Arab League should analyse both the Arab situation in the past and lay down effective plans for the future, while taking into account various political and economic factors. In this endeavour, it must enhance the integrity of the Arab peoples and support their development on more than one level.

The extraordinary summit held in Sirte, Libya, addressed in part the issue of reviving Arab joint action by developing the organisation's performance, introducing amendments to its charter and creating new pan-Arab institutions. Discussion of these matters prompted controversy, yet what is most important are the practical steps that are likely to address the situation of Arabs through the Arab League.

Direct supervision of education is feasible 

In an opinion piece for the UAE daily Al Bayan, Maysa Ghadeer hailed the step taken by the Ministry of Education to reassign the educational zone in Dubai as the main supervisor offer the education sector in the emirate. She said that in recent years such powers had been reduced and caused the ministry to face many challenges resulting mainly from the localised decision-making policies. It was a trend, she said, that education was dealt with in disregard of it being a federal matter. "This should not be accepted for any reason," the writer said.

The decision by the ministry to re-empower the Dubai educational zone is a welcome step, which is likely to put an end to the irregularities that occurred in the past years. "There is no space to ponder these mistakes here, but in order to develop any education system, accumulated experiences should not be replaced by imported systems that are implemented before they are even tested." Overall, "we hope this decision will contribute in rehabilitating the education sector, which has been affected by the the localised decision-making policies and some unsuccessful  initiatives."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi