x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Hundreds protest against Sudan flogging sentence

Protest came in response to a YouTube video which shows a Sudanese girl being flogged hard by two policemen, who are laughing while whipping her before a crowd.

Hundreds of Sudanese women took to the streets of Khartoum to submit a petition to the Ministry of Justice and the Legislative Council, demanding to cancel the laws of public order, especially the flogging punishment relative to "indecent dress", reported Fayez al Shaikh in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

Sudanese authorities arrested 46 women and six men, who protested against existing criminal laws concerning women's dress and what the penal code calls "egregious acts".

The protest came in response to a YouTube video, which shows a Sudanese girl being flogged hard by two policemen, who are laughing while whipping her before a crowd.

Abdul Rahman al Khudur, Khartoum's governor, said that the judiciary authorities closed the trial and condemned the executors, adding that the mistake lies rather in the way the sentence was carried out.

Commenting on the incident, Ali Ibrahim wrote in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan that the flogging reminded us of Taliban practices when they used to commonly torture women and kill them in public. Such a penal law and the way it was carried out was a crime against the integrity of human beings. Sudanese men were in the past protective and supportive of women but the law in force has downgraded women's social position and stained the country's reputation.


Ahmadinejad flexes his political muscle

"The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to consolidate his authority, and challenge both reformists and moderate conservatives," wrote Satea Noureddine in a commentary for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

"That Mr Ahmadinejad dismissed his foreign minister Manoucher Mottaki against diplomatic traditions and norms. The decision is also a humiliation for Mr Mottaki, underlying a deep conflict between the two men, who each belong to different political and ideological schools.

"It has become certain now that the Iranian conservatives are facing a moment of truth, as they have to redraw the borders between their respective political and military wings."

Part of this battle is taking place between the institution of the presidency and the parliament. At issue is how to manage the economy, oil, plans to lift state subsidies and the expansion of the Tehran metro. It also involves Iran's foreign policy, which Mr Ahmadinejad has tried before to control through the appointment of special envoys loyal to him.

"By firing Mr Mottaki in this peculiar way, the Iranian president would like to send a signal to his opponents that he means to trespass all the red lines and confirm to all that he dominates the political scene and probably is able to challenge the will of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."


Insecurity encourages Iraqis to own arms

"According to UN reports, there are seven million weapons owned by Iraqis, of which the government has no record. Most of these were looted from army warehouses following the fall of the former regime and found their way to the black market," wrote the UAE newspaper Akhbar al Arab in its editorial.

The UN figures show that ownership of arms by Iraqis is among the highest in the world, with a weapon for every four people. This outnumbers Somalia and Yemen. Iraqi's armaments can be traced back to the Iran-Iraq war, when the regime formed militias and mobilised tens of thousands of civilians through military training programmes. The attachment to arms by Iraqis reflects a deep sense of insecurity. Another factor lies in local traditions.

There were few attempts by successive governments to change the dominant tribal system in Iraq. In most cases, the central government had been reluctant to reform the system, and instead chose to enter into alliances with local clans and major landowners to retain power.

So it is time now for the central government to take firm steps to restore its prestige by establishing strong state institutions and promote the supremacy of the law.

This can only be achieved if Iraqis feel certain that the authorities are able to protect them by strictly implementing the law.

Europe aspires to US role in the Middle East

"According to Israeli statements, Europe led by Germany expressed some ideas that would recognise a Palestinian government within the 1967 borders, yet we do not know exactly the nature of these intentions," wrote the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh.

The move may put diplomatic pressure on the Israelis, as the US had failed in preventing the expansion of settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Europe may have put forth these ideas to support the US after Israel had trespassed all the red lines, which would jeopardise its vital interests in the Arab world. "As such, peace is no longer a diplomatic action, but a necessary option."

There is a consensus that the security of the region is part of Europe's security as both have been engaged in strategic relations that outweigh those with Israel. "The latter has, since its creation, been dependent on foreign aid from Europe and then later from the US."

Increasingly, Europe has been less assertive and acted in contradictory ways in dealing with Middle East issues. It may have grown aware of its historical responsibility towards the Palestinians when it encouraged and protected the establishment of an Israeli state in Palestine.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi