x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Avatar got the (few) awards it deserved

Some Arab critics went wrong in thinking that Avatar conveyed a political attitude opposing the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and its policy towards Palestine.

"Much has been said about Avatar. At a certain time, it was to turn into a legend in the history of cinema. Alas! Nothing of that happened ... and the hopes of viewers, who were amazed by the special effects and the cinematographic tricks, faded away," observed Satea Noureddine in an opinion piece for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir. Unexpectedly and contrary to the overwhelming box office statistics, the 3D movie Avatar did not receive many awards. Since its launch, viewers flocked into movie theatres to watch what they considered a thrilling, unparalleled experience. "But in fact there were only a few thing they could they recall afterwards, either of the detached plot, or of the screenplay, if it has one in the first place."

Avatar got only what it deserved. This of course has disappointed audiences inside and outside the US. Some may think that the Academy resorted to punishing James Cameron because he dared to criticise the American establishment for depicting it as a source for producing and propagating the philosophy of power and dominion. "Yet even this premise is unlikely," the paper said. Unfortunately, some Arab critics and audience went wrong in thinking that Avatar implicitly conveyed a political attitude opposing the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and its policy towards the Palestinian cause.

"Minors are commonly defined as a category of people who have not yet reached the legal age, and who can be exposed or do some irresponsible acts," wrote Maysa Rashed Ghadeer in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. Crimes committed by teenagers used to be no more than felonies. But the gruesome murder of the UAE citizen Ali, aged 13 years old in Dubai has changed the very concept of who is a minor - That a gang of youngsters aged less than 20 resorted to stabbing a child 11 times in front of his relatives and friends could not be acts of minors that we used to know."

By doing this, they let everybody think that they are not minors in their feelings or doings. They showed to the community that they were bold enough, so new laws are needed to define the status of juveniles and how to deal with them in such circumstances. Dubai Police said orders were given to arrest any person, especially teenagers found carrying sharp objects, and to summon their parents to sign an undertaking. It did not rule out the possibility of sending the parent and the minor court. This is, however, the least that can be done to deter the teenagers' ill-audacity as juvenile institutions are no longer able to put an end to it.

"The European Union's position towards various Arab issues has shown a lack of cohesion. The recent crisis between Libya and Switzerland over Muammar al Qaddafi's son Hannibal is an example of European failure to demonstrate a coherent attitude," wrote Randa Taqi al Dine in a comment piece in the London-based daily Al Hayat. After Switzerland banned members of Mr al Qaddafi's family from getting visas to Europe, Libya took the same measure against most European countries. In fear of jeopardising their economic interests, the EU disregarded the Swiss decision and convinced Libya to review its decision.

The second issue that demonstrates the weakness of European foreign policy relates to the failure to impose sanctions on Israel in regards to continuous settlement expansion, although is officially condemned by both the EU council and the parliament. The other issue concerns relations with Syria. Most European countries welcome an open policy with Syria, without making sure the latter would take the necessary steps towards demarcating borders with Lebanon, or solving the problem of the Lebanese prisoners. Nor did they push Damascus to mediate between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Europe emerged disunited, and more motivated by economic interests than by democratic values. This is why it is less effective in playing a decisive role in the peace process in the Middle East.

Now that military operations against the Houthis in Yemen have ended, attention is shifting to Somalia, observed Othman Mirghini in an article for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat.

It was reported that the Somali government intended to launch a large-scale military action against the al Shabaab movement, which is believed to have connections with al Qa'eda. "The central government would not be able to restore the areas controlled by al Shabaab unless it obtains international support. A few days ago, The New York Times reported that the US would provide training and weapons to the Somali government to undertake a military operation against al Shabaab and al Qa'eda."

After striking al Qa'eda's bases in Yemen, restraining its influence in Iraq, and attacking the Taliban as well al Qa'eda strongholds, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it has become crystal clear that Somalia will be the new battle field against the movement. This came as many reports said that a number of senior leaders were moving to Somalia to taking advantage of al Shabaab's growing influence and the lucrative piracy.

The US military intervention is expected to be different than that of 1992, and is most likely to take the form of intelligence support followed by air strikes to reinforce the government land action. * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae