x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Will division of Sudan teach Arabs anything?

An Arabic-language commentator sees the division of Sudan as a failure - and an omen for other states. Other topics today: French-Syrian relations, Nato's views on Libya, and Egyptian's view of their government.

"A strong feeling of disquiet seized me as I looked at the new map of Sudan," columnist Othman Mirghani wrote in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

"This feeling of discomfort intensified when I saw the nonchalant reaction in Sudan itself and across the Arab world. Are we Arabs not able to assess the gravity of what happened? Or have we become numb to failure and fragmentation?" he asked.

Some of the conditions that have led Sudan to split into two separate states this month are present in other Arab countries, the writer went on. Sudan paid the price of its failure to champion the principles of coexistence, citizenship, diversity and equal rights - a situation familiar in many other countries.

"Now that we have accepted the division of Sudan, how would we be justified in rejecting the divisions of other countries if these same problems are cited?"

The secession of South Sudan will have significant repercussions inside both Sudans and the region. Armed conflicts that were before considered an "internal matter" will now become "international" and prone to all the hazards of foreign interference.

Just the issues of Nile water distribution and oil exploitation are enough to keep the north and the south at loggerheads for a long time, the writer said.

"The irony is that Sudan will be paying the bill of division without cashing on stability."

Damascus loses its good French friend

On July 14, 2008 the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, was sitting next to his new-found friend from the West, Nicolas Sarkozy at the Champs-Elysées, wrote Randa Taqiy al Din in the opinion pages of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

They were watching a French army parade commemorating the French Revolution.

Three years later, Mr Al Assad was sending a bunch of his Baath party supporters to attack the French embassy in Damascus, on the eve the French Revolution's anniversary.

Why did this change come about?

Because the French ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevalier, recently visited the city of Hama, where massive crowds were demonstrating against Mr Al Assad's regime.

Never mind that Mr Chevalier has been one of the staunchest defenders of the current regime in Syria, the writer said.

In fact, French policy since President François Mitterrand has been to encourage Damascus to start on the road of reform. Not any more.

"The current French president has given President Al Assad a real chance to come out of his isolation," the writer said.

"But now he sees that there isn't any hope that the Syrian regime will be willing effect any genuine reform."

Foreign views on Libya are not really changed

Some countries' contradictory attitudes about the situation in Libya may concern the people of that country, especially when there is a break in solidarity by a major Nato member such as France, the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan argued in its editorial.

The French minister of defence, Gérard Longuet, favours a political solution, but Alain Juppé, the minister of foreign affairs, considers the goal of toppling Colonel Muammar Qaddafi to be a top priority of the international campaign against the Libyan regime. This reveals a varied internal French stance about the right mechanism with which to address the crisis after months of military operations.

Meanwhile, Nato is obliged to maintain its efforts to protecting civilians, as indicated by the UN security council resolution. Most countries have affirmed that there is no room for Col Qaddafi to stay in power or have any role in Libyan politics whatsoever. Therefore, all efforts should focus on accelerating the process of removing him.

To help achieve this, Arabs also need to unify their efforts in this direction, in line with the international endeavour to get rid of the "stumbling block"of Col Qaddafi.

This month's meeting of the Contact Group on Libya, in which the UAE will take part, should be an important milestone in crystallising a clear vision on how to end the Libyan crisis.

Egyptians' patience is wearing thin now

Months after the revolution in Egypt, key political demands have not been all met yet, noted the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram. The ousted regime still exists in a form or another, and security is absent.

This prompted thousands to rally again, calling for the prohibition of military trials of civilians and the abolition of laws that criminalise peaceful sit-ins and strikes.

They also demanded dissolution of the parliament and the new parties, saying these oppose the core foundations of the revolution.

In response, the government has moved to appease the masses. Yet most protesters around Egypt rejected the two statements by the prime minister, Essam Sharaf.

As the patience of Egyptians is wearing thin, Egypt is facing the most serious crisis since the outbreak of the revolution.

People simply would like to clean ministries, public departments, media and economic institutions off corrupt elements and foster good governance and improve the situation.

But so far, the present government has failed to achieve the goals of the revolution, or bring about the desired change that people want.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk