x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Natural wealth is Sudan's safety valve

Al Riyadh: Thanks to its resources, Sudan's peace and stability would be intertwined with that of the superpowers, who crave its natural wealth.

"Sudan has witnessed a succession of governments of various ideologies, ranging from quasi-communist, pro-western, military, to parties stemming their power from family status and tribes. Sudan, however, remained to a great extent stable, except when the crisis of the south erupted followed by the Darfur issue. Darfur was one of a kind because it saw the interference of many neighbouring countries as well as foreign powers," wrote Youssef al Quailt in the lead article of the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh.

That led to issuing an international warrant against president Omar al Bashir in addition to imposing sanctions that were supported by the US during George W Bush's era. Yet, by the emergence of China as a superpower and its increasing economic involvement in mineral-rich Africa, the US and Europe resolved to review their policies. They even began to judge the measures taken against Sudan as somewhat wrong.

Many in the West now believe that the stability of Sudan means attracting large investments to fill in the development gaps in a country with huge, natural resources that have produced a growing sense that they should not be left to China alone. Thanks to its resources, Sudan's peace and stability would be intertwined with that of the superpowers, who crave its natural wealth. Ultimately, it would enjoy more freedom of action and engage in economic partnerships.

The Fatah convention that started yesterday in Bayt Lahm in Palestine is seen as an opportunity to strengthen the feeble Palestinian position and restore the role of Fatah as a leader of the liberation movement, wrote Saleh al Qalab in an opinion piece in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida. "Although there have been frantic attempts by some Arab countries and some Palestinian personalities to put in obstacles for the sake of perpetuating the state of division that has marred the internal political scene, Mr Mahmoud Abbas has succeeded in convincing members of the central committee to convene. More than that, he has been able to delicately diffuse the crisis caused by Farouk Qaddoumi and therefore kept the movement united." Many in fact have doubted the ability of Mr Abbas to undertake such a big enterprise, blaming his lack of charisma. But the man was up to the situation and convinced members inside and outside Palestine to attend - and they came in scores. The convention, held in Palestine for the first time in 20 years, is expected to draw the guidelines for organising legislative and presidential elections by next year. It will also yield other important resolutions supportive of the peace process on the basis of the two-state solution.

Mohammed al Ashab wrote in a comment article in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat that the late Hassan II, the former king of Morocco, wished before his death that Paris and Madrid take serious initiative to reconsider their relations with the Maghreb countries, mainly Morocco and Algeria.

On the 10th anniversary of the king's death, the Spanish minister of foreign affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, took up this call and reiterated his country's willingness to mediate efforts to normalise relations between Rabat and Algiers. The Spanish proposal "was not brand new anyway. Madrid had once planned for a quartet meeting, gathering France, Spain, Algeria and Morocco to seek ways to maintain regional stability and promote synergy among countries on the southern bank of the Mediterranean Sea." The two North African countries have expressed a prudent attitude regarding conditions that may follow any potential settlement of their dispute.

As a result, no significant progress has been achieved on this track. Spain, however, has persevered in its quest to play a major role in the region to the detriment of France - a traditional economic and strategic partner of both Rabat and Algiers. Spain, in fact, eyes the economic prospects that a settlement of Western Sahara issue would bring: oil and gas provisions through pipelines that run through Moroccan territories, plus a possible renewal of a fishing agreement with Morocco.

Citing the Saudi newspaper Al Madina, Mohammed Sadeq Diyab wrote in the London-based daily Al Sharq Al Awsat that 30 Saudi women started work as housemaids with a monthly salary of SR1,500 (Dh1,471). According to a civil recruitment agency, the housemaids were selected from city slums after they accepted the job in accordance with a number of conditions. They are only required to work eight hours a day, and the male employer needs to be outside. They also benefit from transportation and training. Age ranges between 20 to 40 years old.

"A job is a job as long as it is a decent one. At any rate, working as a housemaid does not belittle the woman, or would affect her self-esteem. Yet a question remains pending. Why have we gone so far that Saudi women seek domestic jobs at a time when there are plenty of areas that can accommodate them according to their education levels?" "It is not conceivable that the potential of a country like ours is unable to absorb women in so many fields. Nor is it sensible that the private sector is unable to efficiently provide a conducive occupational environment for women." To widen career prospects for Saudi women, there is a need to work systematically as a team to define suitable jobs that are commensurate with social circumstances.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae