x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Arabs must take a stake in Africa's security

African countries are meeting in a summit in Uganda to try and formulate a strategy to counter al Qa'eda and other terrorist groups in the continent.

In a comment piece in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat, Diaa Addine Saeed wonders whether African countries, which are meeting in a summit in Uganda, can formulate a strategy to counter al Qa'eda and other terrorist groups in the continent. Somalia has become infested with Arab and non-Arab militants tied to al Qa'eda. This is largely due to the weak central government's inablity to impose its authority over its territories, and partly because of the international community is reluctant to provide the necessary help to achieve this goal.

It should be noted that the situation in Somalia is no longer simply a tribal feud, or a conflict between warlords as it was before the fall of former president Mohamed Siad Barre. Somalia is the site of increasing infiltration from terrorists who plan to spread their influence to other African countries, the impact of which can reach also Arab states. This is an imminent threat because Somalia neighbours Yemen, the gateway to the Arabian Peninsula. Arabs must help African countries deny terrorists sanctuaries in Africa through such organisations as the African Union and the Arab League. This will allow Arabs to regain a role in African affairs and at the same time counter an increasing Israeli influence in Africa, which would affect their vital interests there.

In an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan, Mazen Hammad highlights the increasing pressure exerted on Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, to agree to direct negotiations with Israel.

In a bid to encourage Mr Abbas, the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, went so far as to praise the Israeli premier, Benjamin Netanyahu's serious commitment to reaching a settlement. Quoting Israeli press reports, Hammad claims that a move to direct talks could occur, which indicated that western leaders had assured the Palestinians would intervene immediately should the Israeli government resort to counterproductive policies to delay the peace process. Similar pressure came also from donor countries. Officially, Mr Abbas is still resisting, and he has not yet retracted any of his conditions for the resumption of direct negotiations. Yet as the Arab ministerial meeting approaches, pressure on Mr Abbas might increase, and any decisions taken regarding peace talks are likely be approved later by the Arab League.

When it comes to international education standards, the Arab world is lagging behind, says Abdullah Bin Bajad al Eteibi in an opinion piece for Emirati daily Al Ittihad.

Few Arab countries saw the benefit of bringing in western educational institutions. However, the rewards have been immense for those countries that did. They produced generations of graduates that went on to become useful to their communities, as is the case in Beirut and Cairo after they brought in branches of the American University. Nowadays, many other countries have followed suit, especially in the Gulf area; the French Sorbonne was inaugurated in Abu Dhabi, Georgetown University has a branch in Qatar in addition to many other prestigious institutes and colleges that are much needed in a region of the world in order to enrich and upgrade its system of education. Despite the culture shock that exposure to western concepts may induce, their benefits are countless. They introduce the young generations to the state-of-the-art educational breakthroughs. However, this should not exclude the need to re-build local universities to meet the standards of development and knowledge needed to build independent and self-sufficient societies.

Amnesty International announced that seven detainees belonging to the Justice and Charity group in Morocco needed urgent medical care after it was reported that they had been tortured, wrote Mahmoud Maarouf in the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

In a statement, of which Al Quds al Arabi obtained a copy, Amnesty International said that seven Moroccans were arrested in June 28, 2010 in Fez, and they all needed urgent medical care. Most of them had been tortured, five were raped, and all of them may face charges based on the confessions they gave under duress.

Moroccan non-governmental human rights groups also condemned the authorities' approach. They warned against using the same interrogation methods that were used during the "years of lead" - the term for the decades of political repression from the 1960s to the 1980s. The authorities accused the activists of kidnapping a former member called Mohammed al Ghazi in an attempt to force him to rejoin the group.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha el Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae