x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Mauritania moves in the right direction

In a leading article, the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi congratulated Mauritania on its handling of its political crisis.

In a leading article, the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi congratulated Mauritania on its handling of its political crisis. "The Mauritanian political elite have outstandingly demonstrated a flexible attitude throughout the dialogue intended to solve the current crisis." All the parties were reasonable in their demands and generous in their concessions. In particular, the resignation of General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz will smooth the transition to a democratic government. He also waived his unpopular plans to hold general elections.

One might say that the military junta had been forced into these concessions as a result of internal and external pressure, but one cannot rule out the fact that Mauritanians are generally open to change, argued the paper. Mauritania is close to achieving a political breakthrough thanks to its desire for change and to the mediation efforts of Abdoulaye Wade, the president of Senegal. In the country of a million poets, as Mauritanian is often referred to, a new political era is taking shape. "Both the government and opposition are currently working hand in hand in an interim government to boost transparency and prepare for next elections."

"Somalia is in jeopardy," warned Abdulaziz al Maqalih in a comment piece for the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej. Somalia is caught in an endless cycle of bloodshed that perpetuates its current state of chaos and anarchy. Some have gone so far as to claim that Somalia is "enchanted" or suffering from "the curse of the US Marines". After all, was not it after the humiliating withdrawal of American troops that this country collapsed?

"According to statistics, half of the population lives abroad, and about 2 million Somalis are in Yemen alone. They are found throughout the country. One can easily notice their presence in major cities; they share bread and water with their Yemeni brothers." "Yet, the world should know that Yemen, unlike Somalia, does not have rivers and vast arable plains to sustain the growing scores of migrants. Yemenis have love and sympathy for their Somali brothers, but that is not enough as the burden is growing with no immediate prospect of a solution is in sight. Somalia is destroying itself and, unfortunately, there is no sign of recovery."

The London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat carried an opinion piece by the former US envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, who called on his country to undertake a major mediation role in Sudan. But he warned against inconsistent US policy. He said that it would probably hamper efforts to stop the civil war in this country. "Many policymakers in the US has described the situation in Darfur as genocide, whereas, the UN-AU Joint Special Envoy to Sudan, stated that the conflict in Darfur involved all factions. He found that between January 2008 to the end of March 2009, 2000 persons died, a third of whom were civilians, cannot be termed a true genocide when compared to the number of dead in the South during the same period."

So the use of the term genocide, claimed Mr Natsios, would limit the US's diplomatic options. The very word genocide is subjective and could lead to an appearance of bias by the US. In principle mediation dictates that it should be impartial in the negotiations. Rather the US should look at the issue in a comprehensive manner in accordance with the peace accord of 2005. It should engage all political actors in a wider, more positive talks on immediate issues, such as the distribution of oil wealth.

Commenting on the death of Michael Jackson, Satea Nourredine wrote in the Lebanese daily Assafir: "Michael Jackson's short life did not represent an accurate image of African-Americans. But it did reflect a troubled era that ended with Barack Obama's accession to the presidency." "Although millions across the world cried over the demise of this legend, his end was not as tragic as it was surprising. "

"His debut with his brothers in the 1960s expressed the intention of America's White art circles to reconcile with African-American art and culture following the civil right movement." What distinguished Michael Jackson from his brothers was his tendency to identify with "white" music. He rose to stardom through the "white" establishment, which accepted him and brought him to fame during the 1980s. "It is during this decade that black youth tended to whiten their skin to fit in and integrate into society.

During Ronald Reagan's presidency, the US used Michael Jackson as symbol of western culture in the communist bloc. Although he was left uncredited for this and his career declined, his music and dance have strongly marked the artistic history of the world. *Digest compiled by Mostapha el Mouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae