x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Iraqi elections only the first step on a long road

Despite the great importance of the Iraqi election, it remains one mile in a long journey. And irrespective of the nature of the new government, it should address a host of challenges, remarked Kamel Youssef Hussein in a comment piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan.

Despite the great importance of the Iraqi election, it remains one mile in a long journey. And irrespective of the nature of the new government, it should address a host of challenges, remarked Kamel Youssef Hussein in a comment piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. At the forefront is the rebuilding of the country. To achieve this, there is a need to eradicate corruption and establish a culture of transparency. To start with, the government has to study carefully cases of people who suffered during the invasion and should pursue ways to compensate them. The government should also legally prosecute the responsible.

Second, there should be a new strategy to handle oil concessions since the current method is ineffective in providing a strong platform for developing oilfields and hence meeting the overall economic development needs of the country. Third and foremost, Iraq needs to reopen issues of smuggled money during the occupation. This issue can be considered in accordance with the international law to examine the fate of $150 billion allocated for the reconstruction programme. US investigators expected that cases will be filed by the end of this year in the US against US officials, who are suspected of embezzling large amounts of money destined to rebuild Iraq. While this is taking place, a question arises: is there any Iraqi action to restore Iraqi funds?

Unfortunately, the Palestinians have yet to realise that their cause is no longer a pan-Arab issue, and that those who insisted in the Rabat summit in 1974 to consider the Palestinian Liberation Organisation as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people would in fact like to repudiate the issue altogether, observed Saleh al Qallab in a comment article for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda.

The same is true for Palestinians based in London who, instead of engaging effectively in resistance back home, aimlessly blame Arab regimes and call Arabs to overthrown them. There is no doubt that both Arabs and Muslims are to blame for the current situation of the Palestinian cause. But for Arabs to have a hand in the issue, the Palestinians need to comply with calls for national reconciliation. That is, the government in Gaza should be dissolved and a new legislative and presidential election be held to elect future leaders that can help translate the people's aspirations for an independent state. There is no point any more for various factions to blame others for their lot. It is time for Palestinian politicians to be proactive and solve their internal problems, especially the divisions among them. They should understand that today's reality is so different from the past: Arab countries are also dumped with tons of issues and priorities they should handle.

"Ali Belhadj, the deputy leader of the banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), has called for changing the Arab regimes before liberating Palestine. Of course, he did not mention how or when. Ironically, he overlooked his failure to change the Algerian regime, though he has spared no effort in instigating revolt against it," wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

Known for an overwhelmingly extremist attitude, he has loyal followers that adore him. Even after more than two decades of Algeria's tumult, he has remained unchanging, attacking Islamic fellows who reviewed their convictions and condemned extremism. "Not only did he bring disaster to Algeria in the past, but is now trying to sabotage the Arab region. The 1988 elections could have been a successful story had he not threatened the political and military establishments, which prompted the army to intervene to cancel the election results." Moreover, he declared he would not alternate governance after winning the elections and described the existing system as well as a great segment of society as infidel. Mr Belhadj, who only succeeded in sowing feelings of hatred, is using now the Palestinian cause to justify his call, reminiscent of Saddam Hussein, who launched wars in Iran and Kuwait on similar grounds. Belhadj's insatiable obsession with power is limitless. He will not cease basing his claim on various grounds.

On his recent visit to the Middle East, the Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva paid his respects at the mausoleum of the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat in the West Bank with flowers in his hand, a gesture that reflects the man's esteem for the Palestinian people and their legitimate resistance, stated the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

This was further validated by Mr da Silva's refusal to place a wreath of laurels at the grave of Theodore Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement. "The Brazilian president, who has played a big part in pushing his country forward and turning it into an up-and-coming superpower, knows very well the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and is fully aware of the oppression that the Palestinians have been subjected to at the hands of the Zionist movement," the newspaper said.

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, couldn't get his mind around the fact that the Brazilian statesman would have that level of compassion for the Palestinians' plight. He boycotted Mr da Silva's address to the Knesset in protest. It seems that Israel has got used to world leaders applauding its attacks on Gaza and Lebanon and giving their blessings to its Judaisation activities in Jerusalem, according to the editorial.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae