x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Tunisia's battle won, but the war is not over

A roundup of the region's news translated from Arabic.

Now that the world has applauded the bravery of Tunisia for being the first Arab state to depose a despotic ruler through a popular intifada, things should wind down to cold calculations, says the columnist Saad Mehio in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

Victory isn't complete. The regime Zine el Abidine Ben Ali installed during 23 years of autocratic rule is still alive and kicking, as evident in the armed gangs deployed by the security authorities to spread fear and chaos.

"Intelligence systems were the real authority in the country for a quarter of a century, built on bases that can't be easily undermined: an extensive network of informants, complete power over all state ministries, and the wide-ranging penetration of civil and political communities." These systems oversaw the ideological, cultural and intellectual monopoly over Tunisia.

For the Jasmine Revolution to succeed, its primary task shouldn't only be democracy and regime change, but also to de-politicise systems and create a balance between the security of the country and its citizens.

Tunisians have a great opportunity to achieve this end as they now have the army as a strong ally. The Jasmine revolutionaries won a battle, but have not yet won the war. For the war to end, security systems must be overhauled.

Hizbollah's plan goes against own interest

As long as Hizbollah is convinced that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an unrestrained force and on an agenda that holds promise of a settlement that excludes them, Lebanon's only hope is that the reaction to the STL's operations would differ from the past, observed Satea Noureddin in the Lebanese daily Assafir.

If the party feels it is being wrongfully accused, its reaction should benefit from past experiences and take measures that would least damage the party itself and the rest of the country.

If its pullout stunt in Beirut reveals anything, it is that the party is going against its own interests, through what Hizbollah and their allies call the gradual plan to respond to the STL indictments and achieve the ultimate goal of eliminating the tribunal, although the party itself had previously admitted that it is an impossible task.

Pressure was directed at one section of the public in an attempt to coerce their leaders to acquiesce to the party's demands.

"Before taking to the streets, there are various political and security options that serve the purpose without recourse to bloodshed. The confrontation within the state institutions is still beginning."

The party's and Lebanon's only remaining hope is that the required political change be reached in state institutions, without civil strife, sedition and even without The Hague.

Sudan's painful split and its repercussions

Now that the referendum is over and the separation is a reality, courage is required to preserve what remains of a Sudan that teems with issues such as Darfur, in addition to the repercussions of separation, proposed the columnist Mazen Hammad in an opinion article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

No reasonable solution can be reached unless the ruling regime were to step down and allow for free democratic elections to guarantee the survival of this large country. "But what we have seen doesn't augur well and it seems the silence towards the separation of the South was part of some deal with the US. If that proves to be true, the current ruling regime won't hesitate to make more sacrifices to ensure its own survival."

As painful as it is to witness the separation of southern Sudan, one must understand the feelings of southerners who are now free from the pressures of a regime that couldn't protect them. This could be the only good aspect of this separation, for the North has lost territories, riches and people that should've made for important cultural and human diversity. The southerners also lost their belongings to a state that is supposedly strong and capable of protecting its citizens.

Northern Sudan failed to realise the importance of diversity and acceptance, and southern Sudanese cannot take any more pressure under a regime that prioritises its own personal interests.


Threats call for change of summit venue

Continued security issues call for a change of venue for the Arab summit, planned for Iraq in March, declared the Emirati daily Al Bayan in its editorial. With the relative stability in Iraq after the formation of Nouri al Maliki's cabinet, an urgent question must be raised about the fatal explosions that keep disrupting reconstruction plans.

On Tuesday, Iraqis buried dozens of casualties that were killed in a suicide attack on the police recruitment centre in the Saladdin district north of Baghdad. Simultaneously, ambulance sirens were heard near the Iraqi conference palace as the strictly guarded Green Zone in the middle of the capital was hit by two missiles.

Of course, these events can't be described as breakthroughs in the Iraqi general situation, but the important conclusion is that the government has yet to prove its ability to control the situation.

The recent bloody events show that "forces of darkness" still enjoy a large margin of mobility in the country and there are many threats that Mr al Maliki and his partners must confront.

As Baghdad gears up to host the Arab League Summit, security issues are highlighted. Therefore, the opinion to hold the summit in another Arab state must be reviewed in light of recent events and the shattered security scene in Iraq.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem