x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Yemen must show that reforms are sincere

A round up of coverage from Arabic language newspapers.

The situation in Yemen has fast transformed into a stalemate, where the opposition and the regime are at loggerheads, observed Ali Ibrahim in a commentary for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

Although Yemen has political parties and a parliament where the opposition is represented, these elements seem of less importance to the people. To the majority, the political dynamism has not been convincing enough, as it has not served the needs of many people, who complain about corruption.

Moreover, the country has been devastated by a series of crises. The government has struggled to quell the rebellions of Houthis in the north and separatists in the south, while it has been fighting al Qa'eda, which is actively trying to find a foothold besides Afghanistan. Additionally, the economic crisis has taken a toll on the country, crippling the government's ability to help the population.

This is indeed a breeding ground of confrontation between the government and various social forces. Even when the regime offered concessions, they were considered late or inappropriate.

Different stakeholders should be invited to mull over the proposed reforms. The ruling party has an obligation to convince the opposition of that its proposals are serious and it is open to a national dialogue.

Palestinian movement has too many goals

"Reading through dozens of statements and emails exchanged by Palestinian activists seeking to end the state of division between the West Bank and Gaza, I noticed that they are divided despite the constructive dialogue going on," noted Dr Ahmed Jameel Azam in an opinion article for the Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad.

Ending the division is a noble goal in itself, but the idea looks less practical. It is not known how Fatah and Hamas will respond to such an initiative, and what will be the situation if they ignore it altogether?

Is there going to be any movement towards overthrowing the two governments in Gaza and the West Bank, while both of them have many supporters? Any unified popular attempt against them seems unrealistic.

As with any campaign, there are a variety of slogans. Some Facebook groups call for one main objective - ending the national division. Others highlight issues including the Oslo Accords, security coordination with Israel and the like. As such, the national reconciliation is submerged by hazy political demands. Some ask for reforms of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, new legislative elections, and a new entity to defend their cause.

"All these demands are worthwhile, but to bring all of them under the headline of ending the national division is not practical at all."

Divisive anti-sectarian groups in Lebanon

The Facebook fever has hit Lebanon, as thousands have taken to the street calling for an end to the sectarian system, giving a bit of hope to many, noted Abbas Moussa in a commentary for the Qatar-based daily Al Watan.

Only a few outside Lebanon know about the intricate nature of its political system and what is really meant by sectarianism.

Groups demanding reform online are many. They are similar in many aspects, yet on a closer look, it is hard to determine their true motives. Despite their common goal, most of these groups would not merge into a larger network . Sometimes, they have gone so far as to come into conflict over who deserves credit over some action or another.

"It seems as if the battle for reform of the constitution has turned into an inner battle among those who call for it."

Lebanese are usually active on social network sites, organising groups under different ideological umbrellas reflecting their demands. Generally they agree on one common goal: end the sectarian system now. Yet these activists are also members of parties whose interests are in maintaining the sectarian system.

This creates a contradictory situation where the activists have a two-faced attitude. At times, under special circumstances, they may support sectarianism, and, at others, turn against it in theory.

Fraudulent advertising hurts the economy

The advertising business, especially in some free publications, is marred by irregularities, a situation that needs to be addressed in order to restore credibility to this important business, wrote Ali Al Amodi in a commentary for the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

"I raise this point following a chat with the commercial attache of a Scandinavian state, who told me that he received calls from people inquiring about ads that promoted the sale of land and businesses at ridiculously cheap rates."

He also mentioned that the ads described benefits that were not available. The Scandinavian country in question has procedures on foreign investment that would not permit them.

There have been many incidents involving bogus ads that unlawfully benefit fraudulent advertisers and cause harm to the unwary consumer who is fooled.

These ads jeopardise the credibility of the entire publicity field, which is an important index of economy activity and should be a mirror of sound practices.

To restore credibility to this business activity, publishers, especially those associated with free publications, have to respect and enforce fair regulations.





* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi