x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Is NAM becoming completely useless?

Handing the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement to Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, was like crowning the Libyan leader, Col Muammar al Qaddafi, "king of the kings of Africa", commented Fahmy Huweidi in the Moroccan daily al Masae.

Handing the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, in Sharm el Sheikh last Friday was like crowning the Libyan leader, Col Muammar al Qaddafi, "king of the kings of Africa", commented Fahmy Huweidi in the Moroccan daily al Masae. "If NAM has become an archaeological specimen that plays no role in current events, the African kings are not much different," the writer said. "The former, if you will, is just political folklore, and the latter more of a popular joke."

For his part, Shamlan Youssef al Issi wrote in the Emirati daily Al Ittihad that the NAM summit focused excessively on the multiple threats that globalisation poses to developing countries, which is rather odd considering that NAM members are caught in the net of global affairs. The truth that NAM still denies is that the interests of most Third World countries revolve around the American orbit: they rely on the US in matters of economic, logistical and humanitarian aid, and, more critically, American military assistance and protection.

The London-based daily al Hayat carried an opinion piece by Mohammed al Haddad, in which he argued that the murder of Marwa al Sherbini - an Egyptian woman residing in Germany, who was killed in court by a German man who, prior to the hearing, had assaulted her verbally on the street for wearing a headscarf - was a plain racist crime that some interested parties have attempted to politicise.

The writer criticised Iran's attempt "to crudely capitalise on the tragedy" by summoning the German ambassador and voicing formal protest. "This move was ill-advised and futile; it was not intended to stick up for the innocent as much as to polish the image of a government whose legitimacy had been impugned domestically and internationally," he said. A number of hardline Islamist groups have tried to do the same by calling Ms al Sherbini "the hijab martyr" instead of referring to her as a victim of racism. Still, the western media is to be blamed for glossing over the details of the murder for fear of stoking a reprisal. "The French Le Monde, for instance, allocated only 400 words, misleading the reader into thinking that it was not a racist act."

Three major points were debated during the meetings of the preparatory committee for the upcoming sixth Fatah conference: the venue for the meeting; the criteria determining which and how many members would be in attendance; and the movement's political approach towards Israel.

Then suddenly Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the movement, decided single-handedly to dissolve the preparatory committee, and called on Fatah cadres in the West Bank to convene for an emergency meeting where an "effective and final" decision was taken with respect to the three points of debate, wrote Bilal al Hassan in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat. It was decided that the conference would be held in the Palestinian Territories, not in an Arab capital; the number of the attendees would be between 1,200 and 1,600; and the armed struggle against Israel would be taken off the movement's political agenda, while remaining part of its general principles.

Days of "silent protest" followed this "internal upheaval", before Farouk al Qaddoumi, a Fatah founding member and the political head of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, gave a press conference in Amman accusing members of Fatah of conspiring with Ariel Sharon to kill Yasser Arafat. "After such a bomb was detonated, the rift within Fatah is no longer a matter of speculation," wrote al Hassan.

"We have come here, in the name of the British people, to apologise for the promise of Balfour the Briton to Weizmann the Zionist," was the message of the British humanitarian convoy known as Viva Palestina, which was led by the MP George Galloway and included other parliamentarians and human rights activists who defied the blockade on the Gaza Strip, wrote Mamdoh Taha in the UAE-based daily Al Bayane.

Now an American convoy made it into Gaza last Wednesday, led by Mr Galloway, with a similar slogan: "We have come here, in the name of the American people, to apologise for the promise of Bush the American to Sharon the Zionist."  The American convoy includes artists, politicians, peace activists, anti-Zionist rabbis and veterans of the Vietnam War. This global trend of solidarity mirrors the growing resolve among free peoples to champion justice and liberty in the international arena, even against the policies of their own governments, the writer commented.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El bahi aelbahi@thenational.ae