The Arabic News Digest covers negotiations in Libya, Egypt's diplomatic overtures with Iran and Israel's continued campaign against the Palestinians.
Arabic newspapers criticise the banning of the niqab in France
France uncovers its true face now
The French minister of interior Claude Gueant recently issued a detailed memo about the law banning the niqab in public areas, wrote the columnist Daoud al Sharyan in an article for the pan-Arab Al Hayat daily.
"Imagine the position of Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab when they realise how condescendingly the French government looks at them."
This discriminatory law, which was approved last October, raised a lot of controversy. Some French Muslims saw it as a deliberate provocation, especially when the number of women wearing the niqab in France is no more than 3,000. Of course, some observers believed that France wouldn't implement the law since it contrasts with the principle of individual freedom, but it has become clear that France is the hostage of the extremist right wing. They are keen on intensifying the hostility between Muslims and the West.
The declaration of the implementation of the law at this time is sure to compound France's crisis with Muslims around the world. "France is a leading player in the air offensive in Libya where civilians are being killed; it doesn't need to give people more reasons to hate it."
"This foolish law would complicate France's mission in Libya. But, it seems that France has decided to remove the niqab and uncover its true face."
Egypt's normalisation with Iran is new course
A glance at the diplomatic developments in post-revolution Egypt reveals that it is focusing first and foremost on the country's security and strategic interests, observed Abdulbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the London-based Asharq al Awsat daily.
This would put it again in a leading position regionally and internationally.
The bold move is a show of independence and a clear break from axis politics. This explains Cairo's disconnection from the crisis in Bahrain and its efforts to normalise relations with Syria and Iran.
"Dr Nabil al Arabi, Egypt's new foreign diplomacy architect, surprised everyone when he welcomed the director of the Iranian interests bureau in Cairo and declared that the current communications with Tehran aim to normalise relations. Post-revolution Egypt intends to have normal relations with all countries."
It is evident that Cairo decided to give precedence to its economic and strategic interests and to adopt the politics of dialogue to settle old conflicts.
"The normalisation of Egyptian-Iranian relations means that Cairo is out of the axis of moderation that opposes Iran, Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas. This may grant Iran the legitimacy it has lacked in the Arab world."
Dialogue in Libya is a waste of time
Talk of negotiations or dialogue between the rebels and the regime in Libya is a waste of time, wrote Mazen Hammad, a columnist with the Qatari Al Watan daily.
The crisis as it stands now is not between two states or two armies; it is a battle between the Benghazi transitional national council that is gaining international legitimacy and the Tripoli regime that is losing it.
"Unfortunately, it is Turkey that is leading the time-wasting campaign by hosting representatives from governments in Tripoli and Benghazi. It is well aware that there is no way the national council and the Qaddafi family could sit together, let alone reach any viable agreement."
Besides, what kind of agreement would that be? Would it be a mutual ceasefire in order to make way for dialogue, a temporary measure that changes nothing or a prelude to a plan to divide the country?
Ankara's involvement in the Libyan crisis and its efforts to save Col Qaddafi's government from the grim fate that awaits it pose questions about the depth of Turkish interests with the Qaddafi regime.
"Mr Erdogan, who enjoys wide popularity in the Arab world, should modify his country's position. Otherwise the Libyan revolution would be foiled and the colonel and his sons would prevail."
Israel is exploiting the instability in the region
Recent Israeli movements are raising questions about the objectives Israel seeks to achieve by escalating tensions in the occupied territories, stated the Emirati Al Bayan daily in its editorial.
Through its actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel seems to be pulling the resistance into total confrontation. It is an exploitation of the present instability in the region and the confrontation between Fatah and Hamas. From an Israeli point of view, this is an opportunity to further suppress the Palestinians through policies that guarantee Israel more control over the territories and more negotiating power in the future.
Israel is using the principle of a pre-emptive strike. The PLO's accuses Israel of taking advantage of the international community's incapacity in order to foil the two-state solution. This is in fact one of the objectives of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
The ratification of plans to build 942 new residential units in Jerusalem is a clear indicator. Meanwhile, the tension that prevails over Gaza is a result of systematic assaults, which ultimately aim to drag all parties concerned into a new war or submit to the terms and conditions of the occupier.
* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem