x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Arab newspapers comment on the struggling Kuwaiti economy and political

Arab newspapers comment on the Iranian president's sectarian speech and prospects for a new Egypt

New solutions needed for Kuwaiti economy

In a commentary in the business section of the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej, Amer Dhiyab al Tamimi wrote that the economy is the most important issue the Kuwaiti authorities have to handle after the resignation of the government last month.

The latest political developments in Kuwait might negatively affect the ambitious economic plans for the upcoming budget of $110 billion (Dh404billion). Planned development projects might be strained by the government's inadequacy and lack of oversight because of political wrangling and limited economic growth.

For this reason, the new cabinet needs to totally review the proposed economic development plan and determine which obstacles may hinder its progress.

On the basis of such an analysis, authorities must suggest more practical and rational goals focusing on human development and new effective educational and vocational training models in order to strengthen the position of Kuwaitis in the job market.

By the same token, the new cabinet should actively work on enacting a law that specifies the privatisation of some sectors with the aim of introducing updated management techniques to boost their performance. Otherwise, the Kuwaiti economy will continue to under perform, while suffering from a lack of innovation and professional inefficiency.

Too early for political reforms in Libya

"It is hard to talk about reforms in Libya while cities and civilians are under continuous attacks by Muammar al Qaddafi's forces," noted the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial.

"Without the help of the international coalition, which has neutralised the Libyan air force, we could have seen more civilian casualties because the regime has chosen from the beginning to use excessive power to regain control of the situation."

As long as the regime still uses force to shape the political landscape, there is no chance for dialogue or other political reform.

Recently, the Tripoli government said the regime was ready to negotiate political reforms, hinting at a sort of election or referendum. But there was no mention of the possibility of the departure of Col Qaddafi. Indeed, any call for change from the existing regime rings hollow, and is unacceptable both locally and internationally.

The statement even described Col Qaddafi as the "safety valve" that ensures the unity of the Libyan people. This is, indeed, the stumbling block. As long as the present regime remains obstinately power, there is hardly any possibility of emerging from the current crisis. That will thwart any potential diplomatic efforts, if there are any to be had.

Iranian president is shifting sectarian tune

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wasn't bluffing when he vowed to raise the price of oil to $150 (Dh550) per barrel, observed columnist Abdelrahman al Rashed for the pan-Arab Asharq Al Awsat daily.

Prices hit a new record of $120 this week following his statements condemning Gulf states and Bahrain's government. In an embargoed economy with receding government income that forces him to adopt a strict policy of austerity, inflating the price of oil is increasing Mr Ahmadinejad's profits.

"Added to that", opined the writer, "he has discovered that the game of threats has made him a leader for the first time, thanks to Gulf states who have become embroiled in a public debate with him that raises tensions between both sides to its highest level in 25 years."

For Mr Ahmadinejad, political prominence among Shiites in the region is more important than money. The Bahrain crisis and the publicised rows with the Gulf states guarantees him unprecedented popularity among the Shiites of Iran and in the Arab world.

Instantly, he has changed his strategy of forsaking his earlier slogans of threatening Israel. Instead, he has opted to ride the wave of sectarianism by declaring his support for Shiites in Bahrain.

A new Egypt seeks to rebuild burnt bridges

In his daily article for the Qatari Al Watan daily, columnist Mazen Hammad suggested that post-revolution Egypt is showing signs of political maturity mixed in with a clear desire to build new relationships with the former regime's old enemies.

The Supreme Council of Armed Forces has made it clear that Cairo seeks to revive diplomatic relations with Tehran and Damascus. Only a few weeks ago, the Council allowed an Iranian naval vessel to cross the Suez Canal on its way to Syria. It reopened the Rafah passage to Gaza and announced its intent to raise the price of Egyptian gas sold to Israel.

Egypt is a pivotal player in the Arab world; a prestigious status that the former regime readily sold for money and commissions. The Egyptian revolution, at this early stage of its life, has given sufficient evidence for its respect for the will of the people and its determination to mend the bridges that the Mubarak regime had burned with many Arab states.

"And just like Egypt, Tunisia too is reviewing former policies of sabotage. The hope remains that the rest of Arab countries would go down this path to reach justice and democracy that would guarantee their peoples' individual rights, freedom of expression and above all, their national rights."

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk