'The press and media in general were facing great economic challenges as well as the technological demands brought about by the digital technology revolution.'
Media is in a state of metamorphosis
"The major news agencies, such as AFP, Reuters and AP, considered 2009 as a turning point in their history", wrote Mansour al Jumari in an opinion piece for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. "As stated by AFP in an earlier report, the press and media in general were facing great economic challenges which were aggravated by the world financial meltdown as well as by the technological demands brought about by the digital technology revolution."
In Bahrain, the ministry of information decided to close many websites, while some promised amendments to the press law were stalled. Moreover, journalists did not manage to properly organise themselves in line with modern concepts that have been widely promoted since 2002. "While the audiovisual media has achieved great progress in neighbouring countries, ours is still lagging a long way behind."
Worldwide, the end of this decade marks a radical change in what constitutes a media outlet; it has acquired new forms and encompassed any information medium of mass communication from a major satellite TV network to a blogger's website. "The new electronic media, I believe, will consolidate further the position of the independent and responsible press. I also believe that online 'citizen newspapers' in the mid and long term will override the role of traditional pro-state media."
With reference to the statements by the former Israeli justice minister, Yossi Beilin, Mazen Hammad, in a comment piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan, questioned whether Benjamin Nethanyahu was on the verge of finalising an agreement with the US that would allow him to resume negotiations with the Palestinians. "If Mr Beilin's remarks emerge to be true, then very important developments are expected to occur in the coming weeks at the level of Israeli-Palestinian relations."
While acknowledging that his government was in talks with Washington, Mr Nethanyahu denied, however, reaching any agreement on a formula for negotiations. However, Mr Beilin remarks are worth further examination as he referred to information that Mr Nethanyahu's negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho, had achieved major steps towards a deal with Washington. From what information that was leaked, the US and Israel have agreed on a timeline of two years for the negotiations, and the goals set for direct talks were to end the conflict and establish an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, in addition to agreement on an exchange deal of land. The Americans believe that the framework discussed with the Israelis should be enough to convince Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations, yet all this depends on "Mr Nethanyahu's attitude and surprises".
Sana'a is undeniably under tremendous pressure, but that could help Yemen firmly address its present security challenges through international support, wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat.
The attempt to down an American jet over Detroit brought world attention to Yemen as "the new international war site" and with it the necessity to intervene to track down Al Qa'eda. The price that Yemen has to pay is the possibility that it will become a new Afghanistan. "Yemen should not be considered for this unless the system has become threatened with defeat and declared lapsed." And at present, this is not the case.
If it emerges true that Umar Abdul Mutallab, who tried to blow up the American airplane last week, obtained the explosives and was instructed in Yemen, then this country will be seen as "the new terrorist laboratory". Yemen will probably be associated as home to Al Qa'eda leaders, strategists, suicide bombers and explosives experts as well as a centre for electronic propaganda. Under these circumstances, and although the Saudi Arabia and the US are ready to help, the government needs first of all to create a unified front to address the present crisis. Otherwise, Yemen will remain weak nationally and internationally.
In a showroom in the US city of Detroit, a large job advertisement calls for applications from people who would like to join the CIA, wrote Talaat Shanaa in a comment article for the Jordanian newspaper Addustour. "One of the main requirements to win a position as a CIA agent is to be an Arab-American living in the US. According to a press report, this opening has attracted large numbers of Arabs who are willing to accept the job."
Some have thought of it as a form of "participation in the decision making process in the US". Those eligible for the job will undergo drastic tests. And only a few will be chosen at the end of the process. "What can be seen here is that the word 'agent' is no longer sensitive to most people, especially Arabs. Probably this is because it has been used and abused since Israel occupied Palestine in 1948. A question arises, though: why does the CIA seek to employ Arab agents at this time in particular? I have no clear answer, but I can assume that the US administration, despite its might and experience, has failed to understand Arabs and Muslims deeply since it dealt with them through force and never through high culture as did the French and the British."
* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi email@example.com