x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Women absent from Iraqi political scene

After decades of struggle, socially and politically, Iraq's women deserve to be empowered so they can make up the lost years under the former regime.

Iraqi women have been angered by the new government formation in their country, which sorely lacks female representation, wrote Meead al Taei in an opinion piece for the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.

Iraq's female parliamentarians refused to control the single ministry they were offered so far in the hope of leading some of the more important ministries.

After decades of struggle, socially and politically, Iraqi women deserve to be empowered so they can make up the lost years under the former regime, and have a say in making the political process in Iraq.

"Iraqi women must become essential partners in the political process and must play their role towards the success of the democratic experience in the new Iraq."

For this to happen, both the legislative and executive powers have to ensure justice and protect women by respecting the quota provided in the constitution. Under the law, they reserve the right to hold 25 per cent of seats in the parliament and provincial councils.

Yet the first political experience of Iraqi women in the past few years have shown that it was feeble on the whole. This due to social taboos, which still undermine women's ability to lead.

In a patriarchal society like Iraq, few women were given chance to develop further their skills in community leadership to prove themselves.

A Moroccan arrives as ambassador in Madrid

In a report in the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi, Hussein Majdoubi wrote that Ahmed Ould Sweilem had finally reached his post as the ambassador of Morocco to Madrid, marking  a delay of one year.

Mr Sweilem arrived in Spain last Saturday, a source from the Spanish foreign affairs confirmed. Although he was appointed last November, he did not take office as Rabat decided later to review its relations with Madrid.

Because the new ambassador was a former leader of Polisario, Spanish political circles were concerned that his appointment was aimed at making Spain a site of confrontation with his former colleagues.

Spanish authorities hope that Morocco will review its decision and replace him by another diplomat.

Madrid fears the new ambassador would be more interested in defending the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco at the expense of  promoting bilateral relations, especially since Rabat tops the Spanish diplomatic agenda.

Mr Sweilem is the first former Polisario leader to hold a senior diplomatic position in a strategically important country to Morocco. Rabat is likely to rely on the new ambassador to convince the Spanish public opinion, especially pro-Polisario political forces, about the Moroccan plan for autonomy.


Hospitals in northern Emirates are formality

In a commentary for the UAE newspaper Emarat al Youm, Sami al Riyami criticised the conditions of hospitals in the northern Emirates, calling them "transit hospitals".

"Yes, some hospitals in the UAE are simply a formality because they provide no services, have no facilities or doctors like elsewhere."

Above all, neglect and indifference have reigned. The result is a failure to provide proper health services.

Some hospitals in the northern Emirates are but a transit point for patients before they are transferred to Rashid Hospital in Dubai, a situation that has put greater pressure on this facility beyond its admission capacity.

"Is it possible for the accident section, with an initial capacity of 70,000 patients a year, to treat more than 160,000 patients? Is it possible for this huge number of people to receive adequate health services from doctors and nurses? Of course not. Many patients were discharged before they finished the treatment period so they could leave a space for urgent cases."

The very existence of the accident section in Rashid Hospital has led to the majority of doctors from hospitals in the northern Emirates to automatically transfer their patients  before giving treatment. Many died as a result of their injuries' complications.


Population balance is needed in Jordan

"There is a state of imbalance between area and population in the three provinces in Jordan. The smaller the area, the more populated is, which makes economic and social planning a difficult process, while a fair distribution of wealth even harder, wrote the economist Fahd al Fanek in a commentary for the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai.

The central province, for example, which includes Amman, Al Balqa, Al Zarqa and Madaba, represents only 2.16 per cent of the total area of the kingdom, yet it has 60.4 per cent of the population. The South is almost half of the country's area, but it has a sparse population of about 10 per cent. Only the northern province has a population that is proportionate to the area. About 30 per cent of Jordanians live there.

As a result, the public budget is not distributed logically, as every province needs allocations that fit the size of both population and land. To solve this intricate equation, demographic engineering solutions are needed not by restricting people's movements but by making some places like the southern province more attractive for settlement. The South should not be seen as a dry and a desert area. It is rather a rural area that can produce crops  if enough water is provided and desertification is addressed.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi