x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

WikiLeaks denied Arab audience direct access to leaked texts

The choice of outlets poses a cultural issue because the cables do not concern only the affairs of the five countries where the newspapers are published.

In an opinion piece for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir, Satea Noureddine wrote that five major world newspapers were simultaneously publishing the WikiLeaks documents.

This came as part of a non-profit agreement, which does not include any financial or penalty provisions. It is reported that the same proposal was offered to CNN and the Wall Street Journal, but it was rejected for unknown reasons.

The choice of these outlets poses a cultural issue because the cables do not concern only the affairs of the five countries where the newspapers are published. They are also of interest to the world public, regardless of linguistic and cultural differences.

Yet the decision of WikiLeaks to exclude media institutions from such important countries as China and India, whose readership base is far larger than that of the five selected newspapers, can stem from potential censorship.

As for the Arab media, WikiLeaks did not approach any newspaper or TV channel to disseminate the content of thousands of diplomatic cables, which have recently become a rich source of material for Arab media outlets as well as their audiences. Overlooking the Arab media by WikiLeaks undermined their position, as it brings forth the cultural and psychological barriers between the Arab world and the West, and denied the Arab audience direct access to these texts.


Morocco re-assesses its relations with Spain

In response to a resolution by the Spanish parliament, described by the Moroccan minister of communication, Khalid Naciri, as biased against Morocco, Rabat considered that present circumstances require a re-evaluation of Moroccan-Spanish relations in all fields, reported Mahmoud Maarouf in the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

Morocco had earlier described the tense relations between Rabat and Madrid in light of the attitudes of the right-wing Spanish People's Party, which supports the Polisario Front.

Morocco's reaction came after "the Spanish parliament called on the government to condemn acts of violence resulting from the dismantling of the camp pitched by Sahrawis outside Laayoune last month".

Mr Naciri described the resolution as "aggressive and biased", adding that "it turns a blind eye to Algeria despite its major responsibility for the tension in the region."

Mr Naciri said that his government had examined in depth the reactions of different Spanish political parties, and found they were generally negative and hostile to Morocco.

He stressed that Spanish political parties put Morocco in the heart of an internal electoral race in a bid to distract the public from the deep economic crisis that has swept over Spain.


Increasing population threatens Egypt

In a commentary on the future development in Egypt in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat, Ahmad Othman wrote that the country will enter an alarming phase because of decreasing water resources.

Quoting Mohammed Allam, the Egyptian minister of water and irrigation, Othman said that Egypt has already experienced water shortages, where per capita share of water in recent years was about 700 cubic metres annually. Mr Allam warned this average might fall sharply to 400 cubic metres in 2050 if no action were taken to address the situation.

To find a solution, the Egyptian cabinet met last October to draw future plans to improve ways to use water efficiently and to increase agricultural productivity. Yet these efforts might not be enough to meet the demands of a population that continues to grow by nearly 2.25 million people per year. The steady increase in population will bring about social and political problems.

Although the last agreement of the Nile Basin Countries last May has contributed to the recent decrease in water per capita, the water situation has worsened incrementally mainly because of the size of the population, which has increased fourfold in the past 60 years, from 20 million to 80 million.

Egypt is in a critical situation and has to act accordingly to maintain sustainable food security.


Qatar deserves to host the World Cup

It might have been better for the US president, Barack Obama, to hide his resentment over the US failure to host the 2022 World Cup, wrote Mazen Hammad in a commentary for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

That he expressed his hard feelings in public means he lacked the spirit of sportsmanship, not accepting the fact that "Qatar is a smaller state that has managed to break taboos, and challenged the red lines. It thus demonstrated to the whole world that football should not remain the preserves of a closed club."

Mr Obama made a mistake when he called the Fifa's choice of Qatar "a wrong decision". The election of Qatar was done through a vote, and received the support of the majority.

Qatar's success came above all as a result of a well-designed marketing and public relations campaign. Its application has been convincing throughout the bidding process. It has also outlined a road map that answers all queries and confirms the ability of the country to provide the sports infrastructure to accommodate the World Cup.

More importantly, Qatar will enter the history as the first Arab and Muslim country to organise this event, and will prove it can handle such a challenge with much confidence and professionalism.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi