x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

An economic solution to tribal fighting

"The clashes between Saudi security forces and Houthi groups is likely to extend the scope of fighting beyond Saada province," wrote Waleed Nouyahed in a comment piece for the Bahraini daily Al Wasat.

"The clashes between Saudi security forces and Houthi groups is likely to extend the scope of fighting beyond Saada province," wrote Waleed Nouyahed in a comment piece for the Bahraini daily Al Wasat. "Frontier skirmishes may go beyond politically delineated borders. Military clashes always remain a threat to the stability of the countries involved as they may drag them into chaos."

What happened on the Yemeni-Saudi border is not accidental. Rather, it signals weakening control over areas where tribal communities overlap. This concerns, but is not limited to, the north of Yemen and south of Saudi Arabia. Although a necessary legal step to mark out the geographical overlap between countries, border demarcation may sometimes lead to political differences if the unity of a tribe is divided across the borders, creating two national groups with different  political affiliations.

In addition to being a security problem, the issue should be seen in economic terms. Beside the consequences of alienating members of the same tribes over two sides of the border, there is the issue of how the  Yemeni central government deals with different communities and to what extent it is able to distribute wealth fairly and promote development in remote regions.

The decision of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, not to run for a new mandate confirmed that he was not after a leadership position, wrote  Hazem Mubaideen in an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai. "Mr Abbas rather looks forward to achieving a peaceful solution that guarantees rights to his people and brings security to the regions after decades of deadly conflict."

Three reasons may have compelled  Mr Abbas to take this decision. First, the US administration has withdrawn from its past promises and is adhering rather to the attitude of Benjamin Nethanyahu's government. Second, the Israeli's continuing intransigence and settlement expansion plans have caused the whole peace process to come to a halt. Lastly, the political scene in Gaza has weakened the unity of Palestinians and jeoporadised the Palestinian cause. "It seems there is no chance at present to solve the internal conflicts between the main Palestinian factions as long as Hamas maintains its control over the Strip." Mr Abbas would like simply to go forward in his efforts to achieve a two-state solution because he believes in peace. Many of his opponents will feel happy now, thinking his decision signals a defeat for his moderate approach as he had always sought to consolidate internal security and ensure supremacy of the law.

"What happened at Fort Hood, the giant army base in Texas, is a crime. It is a clear act of terror," opined the UAE newspaper Akhbar al Arab in its editorial.

The incident shocked the world as well as the Americans. It came at a time the US is still trying to heal from its traumatic experience of the September 11 attacks. It also coincided with efforts initiated by the US president Barack Obama to bring the views of the West and the Muslim world closer. "The incident has two aspects. First, it is a despicable act of treachery, involving killing friends in arms. Second,  the killer is of Arab and Muslim origin. His ethnic and religious background may affect the situation of Arab and Muslim communities in the US which, in turn, could obstruct the efforts of President Barack Obama to bridge the gap with the Muslim world." 

The killer should not be seen in terms of his origin because he is, after all, an American citizen living in a melting pot society. But there is a fear that the pro-Israel press will use the incident to exert pressure on Muslims in the US and limit their progress within the American community. The killer is an American citizen, who was chosen to serve in the military after tough exams and investigations to check whether he was fit and loyal to his nation. All in all, this crime could only have been committed by someone who was utterly depressed, mentally disturbed or a terrorist.

"Electing Nancy Ajram, the Lebanese singer, as the Unicef good-will ambassador, representing the Arab world, prompts me to think about what basis was she chosen for this honourary  title," noted Hassan Shukri Fulful in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. "I would like to stress that I have nothing against Ms Ajram. I am not going to argue whether she is talented enough or not, because this is not my point here. I would rather shed light on the living conditions of Arab children as Arab countries have a complex problem of street children."

Children's rights are constantly violated as many are forced into early labour and marriage. Most importantly, illiteracy still prevails among large numbers of Arab children whom Ms Ajram was chosen to represent in Unicef. An eligible person to undertake such a role should have devoted his or her life to protecting children and contributing to their happiness. "There are many persons in the Arab world including writers, artists and thinkers, male and female, who have genuinely contributed a lot to children, but to honour an artist who has not yet contributed that much raises many questions."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae