x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Gaza rocket attacks are counterproductive

Israeli aggression continues in the West Bank, Jerusalem and at other holy sites, " yet we look with a suspicious eye at the recent rocket attack by Hamas", observed Areeb al Rantawi in an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor.

Israeli aggression continues in the West Bank, Jerusalem and at other holy sites, " yet we look with a suspicious eye at the recent rocket attack by Hamas", observed Areeb al Rantawi in an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor. These rockets were said to be a reaction to the latest Israeli decision to expand settlements and consider more sites among its national heritage. They coincided with the unprecedented visit of the European Union foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, to the Gaza Strip. They also gave every reason to the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to condemn the Palestinians.

"We were in dire need of visits from high-ranking international officials to Gaza to show the plight of the population there and bring into focus the forgotten issue of the blockade imposed by Israel." It was interesting to see how the Al Aqsa Brigade, tied to Fatah, and an unknown movement rushed to claim responsibility for the attack. If they did so to embarrass Hamas by using the Strip as a launching site, it is unacceptable, reflecting a double standard.

We wish the international "pilgrims" touring the region had not been disturbed by such incidents at a time when pressure is mounting against Israel.

"Again, President Barack Obama has extended his hand to the Iranians on the eve of Nowruz. He has ended a fierce debate within his administration whether he should address Iran, which rejected his proposal last year and has pursued its nuclear programme," wrote Satea Noureddine in a comment piece for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir. Scrutinising the message conveyed by Mr Obama, "we feel that he would like to apologise to the Iranians for accusing them last year for alleged support of terrorism. Tehran considered the accusations as echoing those of his predecessor George W Bush. This year the US president's note appeared to be free from such a criticism, underlying a clear reconciliation attempt and a call for open dialogue."

The timing is also significant. The message came just after the US decision last month to postpone any decision about new sanctions on Iran until next June. This gives the Iranians time to respond to the new call for dialogue. Through this message, the US has made a significant step towards easing the dispute with Iran, although the latter may ask for more time and assurances before deciding. It is also possible that Tehran wants to wait to get a better offer as the US is not able or willing to engage in military action at least in the coming months.

"Demands by both Nouri al Maliki, the Iraqi premier, and Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, to manually recount the ballots in all provinces have mounted as the electoral commission revealed the progress of the Iraqi National list led by Ayad Allawi," noted Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial. Recounting votes in some polling stations, which may have witnessed cases of fraud, is legitimate when there is compelling evidence. Yet to ask for manual recounting in all centres is almost impossible and may be a search for excuses to derail the electoral process altogether.

It is ironic to learn that Mr Allawi is the first one to talk about rigging results in some provinces and irregularities that affected the election. But as soon as the preliminary results were released, Mr al Maliki, for his part, complained about fraud. "It is hard to understand the accusations by Mr al Maliki of voting irregularities while he is head of the government and controls security authorities. Traditionally, it is the government bodies that can manipulate the vote by replacing ballot boxes or changing the results. But to accuse the opposition contestant is quite unprecedented." This newspaper, while opposing the occupation and its symbols, calls upon all the stakeholders to respect the outcome of the election and respect the will of voters.

Among the advantages of new elections in Sudan is that state governors cannot be removed by the government. Neither the president nor other executive authorities would have the power to do so, wrote Othamn Mirghini in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Akhbar Al Arab.

Instead, governors will be elected directly by the people. The only procedure to impeach the incumbent is a motion with a majority of three quarters of votes in the Legislative Council. If that happens, the new governor shall be appointed in an early election. The deposed governor can enter the election and if he wins, the Council, which passed the motion, should be automatically be dissolved. "This means voters choose the governor over the Legislative Council, a perfect system that will give local states more independence from the central government and more freedom of action over local matters.

"It will also strengthen the federal system and make it more beneficial for the population. This means local states will be able to compete for investment opportunities without constraints from the federal government. Investors will feel free to choose where to start up their businesses. This, in turn, will contribute to a fairer distribution of wealth." * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi