x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

'A state without a state' is a last option

The threats by Palestinian leaders to dissolve the Palestinian Authority are contradictory to the pressing desires to declare unilaterally an independent Palestinian state.

In an opinion article for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat, Walid Noueihed described the threats by Palestinian leaders to dissolve the Palestinian Authority as contradictory to pressing desires to declare unilaterally an independent Palestinian state.

"This ambiguous situation underlies a crisis in identifying clear goals and setting priorities."

Dissolving the PA would be counterproductive to the proclamation of the state. The first option reveals how weak the Palestinians are in dealing with the growth of settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, while the latter shows their determination to challenge the facts on the ground and win international support.

The Palestinians would like it to be a symbolic step against occupation policies, which alter the geographical and historical aspects of the Occupied Territories.

Meanwhile, the negotiations with Israel have reached a deadlock after Washington informed Ramallah about its failure to convince Israel to freeze settlement expansion for a longer period. Moreover, settlement activities, said the US administration, would continue regardless of whether the Palestinian Authority agrees or refuses to enter a new round of talks.

Facing this load of internal and external pressure, it becomes possible to understand the reaction of the Palestinian leaders. This may be the only option left for them.


Sudan heads toward a dangerous referendum

If the referendum is held on schedule in Sudan before solving the major pending issues, Sudan will lose dearly, argued Othman Mirghni in a commentary for the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.

"The referendum, which is most likely to result in separation, is supposed to end a long history of wars between the North and the South. It would rather spark a new wave of civil strife. In fact, there will no point if peace is not achieved in return for secession."

So far, the general situation is not promising in light of growing tensions and a failure to resolve the most important outstanding question of the oil-rich border region of Abyei. Other pending problems concern water resources, debt and citizenship. A delay in addressing these matters until the transition period of six months after the referendum is truly a risky venture.

It is feasible now to negotiate these issues among the main protagonists while Sudan is still one united country. It may be more difficult to do so if separation occurs. Then it will be hard to gather both parties to the negotiation table because nationalist sentiment may run high then. More seriously, the two protagonists might plan to export their internal problems across the borders. Khartoum has already accused the government of the South of enticing militias from Darfur to wage new wars there in the event of a military conflict between the South and the North.


It is time for Iran to act positively in the crisis

"The meetings held in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1 have not led to any substantial progress on core issues regarding Tehran's nuclear programme," wrote Abdullah Iskandar in an opinion article for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

Perhaps no one has bet on this round of negotiations to achieve any breakthrough. But others considered this round a good step towards an eventual peaceful solution. The group agreed on a meeting at the end of this month in Istanbul, where Iran had requested an earlier meeting. Choosing Turkey as a venue is a goodwill gesture towards Iran, assuring it that the group might agree to some of Tehran's demands such as transferring and storing nuclear fuel in Turkey.

Meanwhile, the GCC  countries were holding their summit in Abu Dhabi. They stressed the need for dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue in accordance with international law. GCC members are categorically opposed to any military option to handle this issue. They also stressed the right to possess nuclear energy for civil use, and reiterated their call for making the Middle East region, including Israel, free of nuclear weapons.

It is clear that both the international community and neighbouring countries are genuinely seeking to find a peaceful solution to the Iranian crisis. Now it is Tehran's turn to respond positively.


Fans need to comply with UAE traditions

We are very appreciative of the decision of the Fifa World Cup organising committee to approve a list of prohibitions that fans must observe during their stay in the UAE, wrote Maysa Ghadeer in a commentary for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan.

The list includes a ban on drinking alcohol on the streets and public displays of affection. Clubs have positively responded to this call by educating their fans about UAE customs and traditions. Booklets were also printed and will be handed out to spectators.

Although this resolution has triggered negative reactions from some westerners, it has been welcomed in the UAE because it complies with the social norms of the country, but at the same time does not contradict Fifa's regulations.

The committee's decision also takes into account the religious dimension and invites the public from all over the world to respect this important aspect of UAE culture.

"For our part, as local spectators, we also should show exemplary behaviour and be the best ambassadors of our traditions and customs. We welcome all clubs in the UAE, but we will not accept any acts that may have serious repercussions, not only for players and fans inside stadiums, but also for others who are outside."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Moulouldi