x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The 'helpless tools' of Algeria's parliament

Algeria's independent Echourouq al Yawm daily ran an editorial yesterday by Rashid Weld Bousiafa about the amendment of Algeria's constitution to allow the president to stay on.

Algeria's independent Echourouq al Yawm daily ran an editorial yesterday by Rashid Weld Bousiafa about the amendment of Algeria's constitution to allow the president to stay on. The ease with which the ammendment was passed, with no real debate, throws Algeria's constitutional institutions into question, he wrote. "We had hoped to see the issue of constitutional amendments getting its share of debates and disputes within the parliament and even within the parliamentary blocs? instead of seeing all hearts in one place and with one man, even if this man is right." Algeria's elected institutions have never put forward even one law but have instead always settled for ratifying laws and raising their hands to approve the initiatives of the executive, Bousiafa wrote. "Our honourable parliament voted in its majority on the suggested constitutional amendments and the celebration ended. These institutions did not offer anything to the people who elected them and placed their hopes and dreams in them, before seeing them turn into mere helpless tools that are incapable of changing anything."

Dr Ahmad Jamil Azm, a regular columnist for the UAE's independent newspaper Al Ittihad, wrote yesterday that the 37th anniversary of the Iranian occupation of the islands of Tanab al Sughra and Tanab al Kubra and the northern part of Abu Moussa passed on November 2. "The sad reality is that most Arab politicians and intellectuals haven't given this issue enough attention or discussion, while some of them even endorse the Iranian attitude towards this matter without any objections," he wrote, citing Qatari newspapers and statements by the deputy head of the Hamas politburo, Moussa Abu Marzouk. The UAE continues to deal with the issue flexibly and diplomatically, without giving up, Azm wrote. A lack of Arab interest in escalating the situation with Iran does not have to mean blind acceptance of its policies. "What Arab politicians and writers are ignoring is the absolute Iranian refusal to discus the Arab right to the islands, and the rude Iranian media attacks on anyone who brings up these issues. Those politicians look at Iran only through the lens of its attitude towards Israel."

On November 13, the Palestinian-owned Al Quds al Arabi daily ran an opinion piece by its chief editor, Abdel Beri Atwan, saying that the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, depicted Israel as dovish before the Inter-religious Dialogue Conference currently being held at the UN in New York. "He related its achievements in signing peace pacts with its Arab neighbours, whom he depicted as being the ones killing children and depriving the coming generations from stability and decent living." His words showed the hopes of Israel, the United States and some Arab states to create an Arab-Israeli alliance to confront the region's resistance movements. "We had hoped to see the Arab leaders who talked before or after Peres, mentioning to the Israeli president that his government was the one poisoning the climate in the region with its policies and spreading hatred?" Atwan wrote. But they only uttered sweet-talk about dialogue. The inter-religious dialogue is a civilised step that should have been conducted between scholars and clerics, he wrote.

Jordan's pro-government newspaper Al Ghad ran a report yesterday by Jamil Al Nimri about the changing relationship between the Jordanian state and Islamist groups Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. "What the state has said is restricted to a concise statement made by the foreign minister explaining the limited security nature of the meetings that took place with Hamas," he wrote. But the response to certain demands by the two groups, particularly licensing the Muslim Brotherhood's Al Sabil newspaper, shows that these meetings are not only aimed at reducing tension, but are the result of deep bilateral understandings. "I believe that the Muslim Brotherhood, with its political discourse and stance towards domestic and foreign issues, is a political rival and nothing has changed," Al Nimri wrote. "Being a political rival, we have to face it politically without undermining any of its democratic rights, as is the case with other political forces, regardless of their colour. The option with the Brothers is neither 'divorce' nor 'unification'." * Digest compiled by www.mideastwire.com