x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

No justification for summary executions

Mohammed H al Mateeri, a parliamentarian at the Kuwaiti National Assembly, had good reason to protest against the Iranian authorities' hanging of 14 members of the Sunni Jund Allah group, which took place early on the morning of July 14 in the city of Zahedan, wrote Khaleel A Haidar in the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan.

Mohammed H al Mateeri, a parliamentarian at the Kuwaiti National Assembly, had good reason to protest against the Iranian authorities' hanging of 14 members of the Sunni Jund Allah group, which took place early on the morning of July 14 in the city of Zahedan, wrote Khaleel A Haidar in the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan. "This type of mass execution does not achieve justice; it simply elicits shock," Mr al Mateeri said in a statement.

No matter how serious the charge may be, namely "fighting against God and killing the innocent", the Iranian authorities should have tried the accused publicly, according to the law, and in the presence of their lawyers and the media. "It is beyond conception why the authorities would suddenly expose the news to the public like that, without providing background information or details," the writer said.

It is well known that south-eastern Iran, which is dominated by the Baloch ethnic group, is fraught with sectarian issues that are related to drug trafficking, border control, al Qa'eda influence, blood feuds, mosque bombings and assassinations of sect leaders. "But is this a sufficient justification to deny those Baloch suspects their basic right of a fair, public trial?"

"What US President Barack Obama refrained from saying earlier is being stated now by his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in a blatant exchange of roles converging towards the same end: bracing the Zionist entity against the Arab people," commented Abdullah al Souweiji in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej. Mrs Clinton's speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington last Wednesday was meant to predispose Arab public opinion to recognise the state of Israel.

"Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority with words and deeds," Ms Clinton said, "to take steps to improve relations with Israel, and to prepare their publics to embrace peace and accept Israel's place in the region." As to her message to the Israelis, "it was so soft as to be pointless", the writer argued. With respect to easing living conditions for Palestinians, dealing with the settlements issue and pushing for the establishment of a Palestinian state, Mrs Clinton proved exceptionally indulgent: "while we expect action from Israel, we recognise that these decisions are politically challenging," she said. The fundamental problem, however, does not lie with the US itself, the writer said, "it rather resides in the Arabs' adamant determination to keep relying on 'Mummy America', not realising that the ticking hand of history is about to knock them out."

Abdelbari Atwan dedicated his column in the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi to criticise an article published last Thursday by Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, crown prince of Bahrain, in the Washington Post.

While deeming Sheikh Salman's initiative "a good thing", because it conveyed to the West an Arab perspective on the Arab-Israeli struggle, the writer thought the ideas put forth in the Sheikh's piece were "not successful" and may perhaps would yield contrary results, eventually hurting the Palestinian cause, Sheikh Salman and Bahrain as a whole. The central argument of Sheikh Salman's piece had to do with the necessity to communicate with the Israeli people and make them aware of the advantages of true peace, a move in which the media would be essential.

"What we can gather from the article is that Sheikh Salman wants an Arab-Israeli 'media normalisation' under the slogan of 'communicating with Israelis' which would entail Arab writers and officials appearing on Israeli programmes as guests and commentators." Sheikh Salman's proposition marked the first Arab response that favours Hillary Clinton's recent call on the Arab states to take steps towards normalising relations with Israel, the writer concluded.

The time has come for a national unity government in Sudan; this is at least what the opposition leaders in the country, regardless of their genuine intent, have been calling for, wrote Ahmed Ammorabi in the comment pages of the Qatari daily Al Watan. Oddly enough, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which was signed in 2005 between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government remains the major impediment to national unity in the country.

The agreement specifies representation quotas for the various parties in any prospective unity government, with a massive 80 per cent of executive power to be divided up between only two parties: the Popular National Conference (NCP), the ruling party, with 52 per cent, and the SPLM with 28 per cent. "Of course, this kind of configuration leaves the other parties and groups, including the southern clusters, with a modest 20 per cent of authority to share between them," the writer said.

Added to this, the "supreme national agenda" is still waiting for a tough consensus on the solution to the Darfur crisis, the status of the southern provinces and the elections process. * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi aelbahi@thenational.ae