x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arafat's archive had better stay in Tunisia

Editorials in Arab newspapers comment on the Arafat archive in Tunisia, judicial reform in Morocco, selective US standards on Saudi censorship and an Arab security plan

Official Palestinian sources confirmed earlier this week that the new Tunisian leadership has agreed to hand over "the archive of the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat" to the Palestinian Authority, noted the pan-Arab Al Quds al Arabi newspaper in its editorial.

The PA president Mahmoud Abbas is said to have made a request to that effect on his visit to Tunis several days ago.

"This Tunisian move reflects the scope of the change that has taken place in Tunisia since the departure of Ben Ali's regime. Under various pretexts, the latter rejected multiple requests from the PA president to recover that archive before."

What argument did Mr Abbas make to convince the Tunisian decision-makers to approve his request? And what were the old regime's reasons to reject it? Answers to these and other questions are still elusive at this time.

"The Arafat archive includes all his correspondence with world leaders, plus secrets about the Palestinian revolution, its military operations, relations with Arab and international personalities and its sources of funding."

This archive had better stay in Tunisia until an independent sovereign Palestinian state is established, for it won't a big surprise if Israeli forces stormed the PA's headquarters to steal it. They've done this before when they stole the archive of the Palestinian studies centre in Beirut.

Moroccan judges go against minister online

In a move that set a precedent, a group of Moroccan judges went on Facebook to voice their demands for reform of the judicial system and for restrictions on the influence of the incumbent justice minister, Mohammed El Nassiri, reported the online newspaper Hespress.

About 150 Moroccan judges launched the page, posting a statement entitled "The Text of the Constitution". They said that they intend to voice concerns arising from the Moroccan monarch's landmark speech in March.

"The social and institutional changes that have been taking place in Morocco recently prompt us, we the judges, to make our voices heard regarding the constitutional reforms that have to do with the judicial power," they said in the statement.

The voice of the Supreme Judicial Council is "underrepresented" and "biased" towards the justice minister's agenda, they said, calling for the involvement of prominent members of civil society in the judicial process.

"Some of the judges said a starting point for reforms is to distance the justice minister from the Supreme Judicial Council and dismiss the "top-down" policy."

Reforms to the justice system in Morocco have been at the heart of the demands of the February 20 youth movement for democracy and civil rights.

US is selective about freedom of expression

In a comment about US requests to Saudi Arabia to stop the broadcast of Libya's state television channel via Arabsat, Tareq Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based Asharq Al Awsat daily wrote: "The US request is indeed puzzling. Only one month ago, a considerable part of the US media was criticising Saudi Arabia for media censorship among other vices. But Washington doesn't shy away now from urging Riyadh to interfere and censor Col Qaddafi's channel."

It isn't as if the official Libyan TV has a big international following. No one sees it as a reliable source of information, but rather as a source for jokes. Therefore, there is no point in stopping it.

The point is how does Washington denounce censorship in one instance, then ask for it in another, even if it's against its enemies?

Washington has been a staunch preacher of media openness. Nonetheless, it asks for the shutdown of Col Qaddafi's channel and it did, a while back, ban Hizbollah's Al Manar channel in the US and elsewhere. The question here is why the selectiveness?

"Of course, this isn't said in defence of Col Qaddafi's channel. The problem in Libya is much bigger. The man will not step down unless Nato acts quickly. What matters now is to stop his military machine, not a mere risible TV channel."

A comprehensive Arab security plan is needed

"In light of the events that have been taking the region by storm, it is utterly crucial that an Arab summit be held, in any Arab country, with a single point on its agenda. What to do in the wake of these random political earthquakes and how can we confront their repercussions as a regional group rather than as individual states?" wrote the columnist Saleh al Qallab in an article for the Jordanian Al Rai daily.

Arabs are under the false impression that they are immune to what is going on in the region as long as they are able to provide a good living for their peoples and as long as they rely on their oil reserves. But they must realise that the fire that is devouring their neighbours' lands will sooner or later come to their doorstep. They are required to take matters seriously and deal with the threat before it gets to them.

"No Arab country will be safe should these successive events lead to chaos, poverty and famine. Poverty is the perfect breeding ground for terrorism and violence."

The Arabs are required to develop a comprehensive security plan to avoid an eerie future.






* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk