Algerian reforms need to break with old guard

A daily roundup of the region's press in Arabic.

It is a paradox that the Algerian president Abdul Aziz Bouteflika has consulted with the same people who opposed him after the death of Houari Boumediene in order to prepare for peaceful political reforms, observed Azraj Omar in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Al Arab.

This is a wrong turn, because the people Mr Bouteflika is talking to lack credibility and are unpopular among Algerians. Some of them served at high levels of government before, but all of them failed. They are also responsible for diluting political diversity.

It is a double mistake because Mr Bouteflika intends to introduce changes to Algerian politics by the old autocratic approach. His attempt is nothing but tinkering and a waste of time. Instead, he should remove the residue of the past that has plunged the country in an abyss of corruption, ignorance and tyranny.

So, the proposal of holding national consultations to introduce political reforms is, at best, another game by the regime to hide its failure at many levels, whether economic, educational, political or diplomatic.

Algerians are fed up with government manoeuvres that have always been aimed at muzzling their voices, and thus dashing their hopes for democracy.

The Turkish PM takes a position on the fence

Commenting on the ongoing events in the Arab world, the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared as if he was defending his position concerning the Libyan revolution, noted Yasser al Zaatra in an opinion piece for the Jordanian daily Addustor.

Before then, Mr Erdogan did not show any support for rebels, yet he was less decisive about Col Muammar Qaddafi, although he advised him to resign in some statements.

As for the other developments, he warned of sectarian strife, especially in Bahrain. However, this is less relevant to Yemen, where most are united against Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime, and even less so in Syria.

Mr Erdogan said oil was the cause of the current events in Libya, before adding, in a defensive tone, that Turkey's main concern was to save civilians and not to gain wealth.

What Mr Erdogan said was not convincing. The West and Turkey have a stake in Libya. But as the people rose surprisingly against the regime, many western countries rushed to support the revolution, while others hesitated for a while.

Mr Erdogan was indecisive about the Libyan and other Arab revolutions, an attitude that might jeopordise his reputation among Arab people, who have admired him for his positions regarding Israel.

Don't shoot, don't kill policy needed for Syria

The protests in Egypt started out peacefully, but the ruling regime, in its confusion, dealt with them aggressively, which left many casualties, which in turn escalated the situation and resulted in the ousting of the regime, observed Tareq Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based Asharq al Awsat daily.

The same scenario played out in Yemen and caused a fatal jolt to the regime, while in Libya matters escalated into a war and here were are facing the same mistakes in Syria.

"Hereby, our advice to the Syrian regime is: Don't shoot. Don't kill. Yes, don't kill. More casualties would only complicate matters."

But what is frustrating is that very few people actually draw lessons from the experiences of others, as it seems that citizens are of little value in our countries.

The one important element of change that many Arab regimes are unable to understand is technology. It makes it more difficult to conceal the truth. With the proliferation of the media and technology, the state can't forcefully impose its authority anymore. It has no other option but to impose it through laws and effective institutions coupled with genuine reforms and social equity.

There is no point in Damascus accusing the protestors of liaising with Israel. The golden advice to Damascus now is to adhere to a don't shoot - don't kill policy.

Monitor local produce for price and quality

"There is no doubt the decrease in vegetables prices was welcomed by many, especially since that has included locally produced crops," wrote the former member of the FNC, Maysa Rashed Ghadeer, in a commentary for the Emirati daily Al Bayan.

Demand for local produce promotes agricultural activities, and improves farmers' and suppliers' income. This, in turn, will boost consumers' confidence in the domestic market and increase self-sufficiency.

Yet to ensure the continuity of such a process, there is a need to closely monitor prices so they remain affordable to all and, at the same time, ensure quality. In this regard, the Ministry of Water and Environment and the municipalities need to undertake a role to ensure food safety and promote local products.

"I say this because in the past locally produced vegetables and fruits were displayed outside their usual season. This suggests they were manipulated in some way. That was done without considering the repercussions on human health and safety."

Monitoring and control in this area go beyond the responsibility of consumers, as only the supervisory authorities can sanction offenders and set safety standards.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk