x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Sponsorship system should be maintained

Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al Thani wrote an opinion piece for the Qatari daily Al Raya in which he objected to Bahrain's decision to scrap the sponsorship system since it ran against "the interest of the Gulf co-operation."

Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al Thani wrote an opinion piece for  the Qatari daily Al Raya in which he objected to Bahrain's decision to scrap the sponsorship system since it ran against "the interest of the Gulf co-operation." The resolution, he said, only came as a reaction to pressure from international organisations. What is more, "these very organisations only used international human rights charters as an excuse to gain a foothold in the region." 

However, it should be noted that the sponsorship system is primarily motivated by security concerns, since expatriates outnumber nationals. This scheme is not meant to serve a specific group of people, but is meant to preserve national identity. As such, it is essential to correct this imbalance and protect the rights of nationals within a population where they are the minority. After all, sponsorship is a part of that administrative measures aimed at controlling the entry and exit of expatriates. It is essential for the security and safety of the country. "It is not in the interest of Bahrain then, nor any other GCC country, to act on such matters individually. What is needed is joint action to avoid disrupting their common fabric, losing their distinctive identity and eroding their cultural character."

"Barack Obama is not Saladin, he is the president of the United States of America whose duty is to defend his country's interests and not to liberate Palestinian lands from occupation," wrote Tariq Masawra in an opinion piece for the Jordan-based paper Al Rai. "President Obama seeks change in American policy towards us after a long period of antagonism, yet this does not mean the man has become an Arab and a Muslim."

Normally, to overcome major political issues, people start by promoting their national interests. Palestinians must follow this course and unite their position based on their national and religious identity, which is an essential step towards establishing a Palestinian state. Arabs have tried to push for the two-state solution, but they are likely to face two obstacles: the US might ask for a normalisation of relations with Israel, and the Palestinian divide might persist.

Mr Obama's address is expected to suggest a suitable formula for reconstructing US relations with the Arab and Muslim world. "He thinks he has established a new phase in relations with the Arabs and Muslims, and he is likely to say so in Cairo. This means that all options now are available for establishing relations based on respect with major international powers."

Ali Bewan commented on the recent visit by the Israeli prime minister to the US in a comment piece for Al Hayat. "During his visit to Washington Benjamin Netanyahu said the Iranian nuclear programme was his top priority. He also sought to undermine the negotiation with Palestinians. As usual, he reiterated his points of opposition: no two-state solution, no sovereign Palestinian state, no right of return for refugees."

Israel's attitude would create deadlock in peace discussions. From what has been leaked to the media, the American peace plan is crafted to show that the US is determined to undertake its role in the peace process. The new plan may retain aspects of the Arab peace plan, basically the two-state solution, but it may also introduce new ones like denying the Palestinians a right to have an independent army.

The potential change in the plan has brought varying reactions from Arab nations. Some officials saw no objection to the modifications, believing that Barack Obama will strike a "historic peace deal," while others rigidly oppose any alterations. "Those who believe that the path to peace has become smooth are too optimistic, because Israel still refuses international calls for peace. Besides Arabs are less ready to accept the minimum required for engaging in a settlement deal let alone peace."

Satea Noureddine wrote in an opinion piece for the Lebanese daily Assafir: "The terrorist attack that targeted a mosque in the Iranian city of Zahedan and left a hundred people dead or wounded and was followed by gunfire at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's elections centre marks a critical shift in the Iran-US rules of engagement, which seemed to have changed with the election of Barack Obama."

These kinds of attacks were reminiscent of the Bush administration's way of handling the conflict with Iran, he said. It contradicts Mr Obama's approach, which included his greetings to Iranians on Nowruz. Additionally, he avoided moves that would destabilise Iran's political system. The latest incident at Zahedan has alarmed Iranian officials and destroyed the spirit of the US's new policy of openness.

Indeed, the deadly blast puts an end to these landmark US-Iranian attempts to negotiate, and reignites debate within Iran. Not only will Iran resolve to re-elect Mr Ahmadinejad to a second term next week, but it also will convert its political propaganda into a political programme." * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae