x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Lebanon has moved beyond civil war

Most Lebanese by now should be aware that the factors that led to the outbreak of the civil war cannot ignite a new conflict.

The 35th anniversary of the Lebanese civil war came this year amid positive national sentiment that Lebanon has in the recent years focused on rebuilding as a more independent nation, wrote Satea Noureddine in the comment page of the Lebanese daily Assafir. As time passes, many of the factors that triggered the war are no longer present, namely the so-called left-Islamic movements and the extreme-right Christians.

In this context, Syria emerges as a partner and a possible rival, as demonstrated during the past six years. For many, Israel remains the reason to perpetuate a culture of civil war and attribute to it a moral dimension. Most Lebanese by now should be aware that the factors that led to the outbreak of the civil war cannot ignite a new conflict. Yet there is a new simmering situation that distances various groups, especially seen in the tension between Sunnis and Shiites.

Many believe that the local balance of power, in its present state, is less likely to lead to a new civil war, but that might change if Lebanon seeks to become too involved in regional issues, which would affect the course of events at home.

"The Washington nuclear summit has been long overdue to the detriment of the planet and all living creatures," wrote Saad Mehio in an opinion piece for the UAE's Al Khaleej newspaper. After alarming reports about nuclear materials available to 40 different countries, enough to build more than 120,000 nuclear bombs that would exterminate all forms of life, the summit is quite justified. However, is it enough? "Yes," answers the writer. "If it weren't for one single hurdle called Israel." He explains that the nuclear materials and warheads tucked away in secret vaults in Israel pose a serious threat to world security.

Israel came close to using its nuclear arsenal during the 1973 war to deter the Egyptian attack from the Sinai desert. This proves that Israel would not shy away from using its arsenal to attack rather than deter. Another problem is that studies carried out on the Demona nuclear reactor proved that it's obsolete and threatens the entire region. The writer also observes that Israel's refusal to sign the treaty to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons encourages countries like Iran to seek nuclear armaments. The summit will not achieve its goals unless the issue of the Israeli arsenal is laid on the table, the writer concludes.

The tragedy in Yemen is represented in the painful case of the girl Ilham Mahdi, 13 years old, who died just a few days after she was forced to marry a man in his twenties, wrote Ali Ibrahim in a comment article published in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat. Ilham's story is shocking and runs against all humane values, regardless of differences in religion and culture. It pays no respect to children's rights to proper education and care. In most countries, the legal age of marriage is usually between 16 and 18, with the aim of protecting children from abuse and misconceptions widespread in some communities that might badly affect them.

Even though in Yemen the legal age is 17, this provision is barely observed. Because of illiteracy and poor implementation of the law, coupled with an oppositional culture, such an incident is likely to happen again. Child marriages are not going to be solved overnight by new legislation, as many families are willing to circumvent the law or might use religion as a cover to strengthen their position. What is needed is a sound cultural and religious awareness against marrying minors, in Yemen and in other countries.

"The military order to transfer thousands of West Bank residents is a new war waged by Israel against the Palestinian people," wrote Mazen Hammad in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. The order was to take effect yesterday as reported by the Israeli press. The military decision will first affect Palestinians who are said to be from Gaza and include "infiltrators" who do not have residence permits, and foreign women married to Palestinian men. These are the kind of justifications put forward by the Israelis.

According to many analysts, the Israeli decision is motivated by a desire to deport as many Palestinians as possible from the West Bank, and thereby pave the way for an ethnic cleansing campaign. The ultimate aim, therefore, is to transform the demographic landscape of the Palestinian Occupied Territories by reducing the number of West Bank residents to make more room for settlers. Israel has a deliberate intention to make Gaza a prison for persona non grata and divide the Palestinian population without respect for international law, which considers the territories as one geographical unit.

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