x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Yemeni protests reach the point of no return

Friday's massacre at "Change Square" in Sana'a that left 300 casualties between dead and wounded, was the largest of its kind calling for the president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

Friday's massacre at "Change Square" in Sana'a that left 300 casualties between dead and wounded, was the largest of its kind calling for the president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, wrote columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

This in itself emphasises how urgent and inevitable it has become for the Yemeni president to respond to his people's demand and resign from office.

The message is crystal clear; the massive protests throughout the country have proved time and again that the people don't want Mr Saleh. And yet, despite all this, the man still hangs on to power, issues emergency laws and rebuffs the opposition's demands.

"In all honesty, the Yemeni people have been the most patient and astute among all rebelling peoples in the Middle East, the Gulf and North Africa. They didn't resort to an armed confrontation with the security forces and the military, despite the fact that they are the most heavily armed civilians in the region and Yemen has often been referred to as a weapons forest."

The Yemenis aren't going to wait until Ali Saleh's end of term. Things have reached the point of no return. If the daily protests in Sanaa, Eden and other cities prove anything, it's that the people will not abandon their claims and will not stop at anything short of a resignation. Mr Saleh must leave power in peace.

When moderates clash sedition prevails

When two of the most prominent religious figures among Sunnis and Shiites diverge, this means that we have reached the most advanced stage of sectarian dissent in our region, observed the columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

The Sunni imam Sheikh Yussef al Qardawi spent years building bridges with leading Shiite religious men, sharing their Islamic majlis and leading a campaign against Sunni radicals to end the sectarian dissent during periods of unrest in Iraq. As for the Shiite Sheikh Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, he has for a long time been a safety valve for security in Iraq and played an essential role in defending Iraqi Sunnis.

But recent statements from both men are most disconcerting. While Sheikh Qardawi interprets events in Bahrain as a Shiite sedition plan targeting the Sunnis and an expression of a sectarian Shiite hatred, Sheikh Sistani's office issued a statement condemning what he calls a massacre of Shiites in Bahrain.

"Does the Bahraini situation truly call for these battles between Iran, Iraq and Lebanon on one side and the Gulf states on the other?"

No one denies the problematic nature of Bahrain's reality and the fairness of a number of the opposition's demands, but unfortunately, they have all been reduced to a mere slogan in dirty sectarian war.


Israeli intervention is unacceptable

"The reports released this week in Israel revealed that the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was carrying out contacts with the US and EU to foil the Palestinian Authority's president Mahmoud Abbas's attempt to restore national unity," noted the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds in its editorial.

The Israeli efforts to thwart the Palestinian initiative are out of place and give rise to censure and condemnation. Israel or any other third party has no right to interfere in internal Palestinian affairs, especially when what's at stake is an attempt to establish a government of national unity and organise new general elections.

Surprisingly, the justification put forth by Israel to disrupt the peace process and evade the requirements necessary for solving the Palestinian issue was irrational. It argued that Palestinians are divided in terms of the very nature of reconciliation and the type of future government.

Mr Netanyahu went on to say that some of the potential figures of the future Palestinian government rejected the existence of Israel. By saying this, he just ignored the basic fact that the formation of any Palestinian government will depend above all on a clear commitment to the Oslo Accord and other relevant international treaties.

This new manoeuvre by Mr Netanyahu should prompt all Palestinian factions to join efforts and achieve their national project.


Muammar Qaddafi rules no one anymore

"Muammar Qaddafi's success in rallying an international coalition against him is unprecedented, declared the Emirati daily Akhbar Al Khaleej in its editorial. "He even surpassed Saddam Hussein who had the world divided about attacking him as France had refrained from joining forces with the US and Britain in a military operation in Iraq, whereas it now leads the coalition against Col Qaddafi."

Col Qaddafi could have stopped all military operations and retained a margin of political and diplomatic manoeuvring that would have allowed him to strike a deal that would guarantee him a decent exit from power. But he chose an irrational confrontation that puts Libya on the road to hardship and himself on the fast track to an international trial as a war criminal.

Col Qaddafi has no more room for manoeuvre now. He has no more time for deception. He lost all his friends and supporters in the world. He no longer leads anyone in Libya.

"We have no advice to offer Col Qaddafi at the moment but to apologise for his mistakes and step down immediately to save his country from an ominous fate."

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk