x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Yemen needs a plan of dialogue

The London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat featured an opinion piece by Abdul Rahman al Rashed, who wrote: "When the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh described secessionists as "swine flu", he did not realise that he had praised them. After all, the epidemic, by nature, is fatal and can spread rapidly. Ironically, these are the qualities of effective opposition." The opposition in Yemen are of two types. One is official, a part of the political system and acts according to the law. The other is outside of the law, rebellious and against the political system. It is based in the north and the south.

It is not suitable at all now for Yemen to be described in "epidemiological" terms at a time when it was going through a critical situation as admitted by the Yemeni president himself who warmed the separatists that their revolt might lead to the  dismemberment of the country.   The situation may get worse given Yemen's geographical location  bordering "the pirates' sea", a further challenge to its stability. In view of all these factors, there is no solution to the crisis other than opening a dialogue with southerners. "Secessionists need to be invited to a political dialogue, and enlarge their  political participation as long as this option would serve the national interests. The government equally needs to promote development by providing sufficient public services in remote areas."

No change foreseen in Iranian elections Abdullah Iskandar, in an opinion piece that appeared in the London-based daily Al Hayat wrote that the US administration broke an old tradition after it condemned the deadly bombing of a mosque in Iran, although Tehran had accused Washington of being behind it. The establishment candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has tended to maintain that the USA has interfered in the Iranian elections.

In this sense, the current president Ahmadinejad would like to implicitly attack the reformist candidate, Sayyed Abbas Moussawi, who is advocating an conciliatory policy with the West. He seems to act following a set of injunctions aimed at demonising reformists whose western ideals put the very fundamentals of the Iranian revolution at stake. "It is a smear campaign led by the regime against other candidates by depicting them as too pro-West, who would bring back western influence to the country."

The acts of violence across the country gave a raison d'être to prosecute accomplices and justified why the leadership places security as its top concern. Such a situation is beneficial to the regime candidate.  In this context, "the Iranian presidential elections are expected to reinforce the political agenda that has long been advocated by Ahmadinejad and by no means would tend to meet the aspirations of  Iranians for a better life".

Obama's peace plan is ambiguous  The UAE-based newspaper Al Khaleej carried a comment piece by Husam Kanafani who wrote: "The Palestinian Authority's president Mahmoud Abbas went to Washington to meet the US president Barack Obama, but nobody seems to understand the gist of their talks. President Obama reiterated the same phrases he had uttered in front of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Nethanyahu with some extra reminders of what the Palestinians should do regarding Israel and its security."

So far, no clear US plan for peace has been forged. But some indications from President Obama's meetings with Middle East leaders showed that the plan "would centre around four main points:  promoting the two two-state solution, stopping settlement expansion, improving the economic conditions of the population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and normalising relations with Israel." The plan is rather unclear, if seen in terms of a timeline perspective. President Obama did not set  deadlines for any of the points above because he did not want the success or failure of his plan to be judged according to a specific schedule.

When it comes to the settlement issue and the living conditions of Palestinians, in particular, President Obama, unlike some former US presidents, has no intention to take any disciplinary measures against Israel. Yet he seems very keen to press for normalisation. Kuwait: the ball is in government's court  Ahmad al Anzi wrote in an opinion carried by the Kuwait-based daily Al Anbaa that "the new government must provide detailed plans for development since it has all the necessary financial and human resources, as well as the powers to govern".

Moreover, given the special political circumstances that yielded this new executive team, it is likely that parliament would be more cooperative and dynamic. So all it needs is "to lay down workable development programmes and measurably evaluate its own performance". Though the government would inherit immense organisational challenges "there are some immediate tasks that require immediate response, namely reforming the public services of health and education and handling issues of the environment". While doing this, it has to bear the close scrutiny of various opposition MPs in a very delicate political game.

Governance is a continuum. At one end stand citizens who can exercise their freedom of speech, as granted by the constitution, to criticise the role of their representatives should political tensions persist. And in this context, the government can enjoy a margin of manoeuvring to undertake its  development projects.  * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae