Arab League speaks up on Syria

The Arab League spoke for Arab public opinion when it criticised the Syrian regime, an Arabic-language commentator said. Other topics: the "Israeli spring", US combat deaths, and the UAE's welfare state.

Arab League's views aim at Syrian regime

The Arab League is supposed to be the first to reflect Arab society and its attitudes, the Emirati newspaper Akhbar al Arab noted in its editorial, and this time the League was up to the situation.

It has now expressed its deep concerns about the situation in Syria. Nabil Al Arabi, the secretary general, called on Syrian officials to immediately cease all acts of violence against protesters.

With this statement, the League stepped out of silence to address the Syrian government as the source of concern.

In fact, the Syrian authorities have taken a bumpy road to get out of the crisis, thinking the use of power will deter Syrians from protesting. Rather, the situation has worsened with the passage of time. It is unlikely that protests will recede unless the regime introduces deep political changes to meet public demands.

People are looking forward to new types of relations with government institutions. For this to happen, there will have to be new concepts of ruling that are in line with modern requirements.

If the ruling party in Syria believes in Arab unity, it should have learnt from what happened in Tunisia and Egypt.

It should also have realised that the revolution would reach Syria eventually. Damascus could have prevented the present situation if it had taken the initiative early by introducing necessary reforms.




Israelis are inspired by Arab movements

Unlike the Arabs' demands, which aim at combating corruption and introducing democratic change, recent Israeli protests focus more on civil justice, argued columnist Mazen Hammad in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

Many observers believe last Saturday's protests constituted the biggest challenge to the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and to his government, since he took power.

Israelis complained about lack of affordable housing, the need for a reliable child care system, and the scarcity of some basic foodstuffs. These problems have frustrated the Israelis, who also suffer from rising prices and low salaries.

Young families protested against the cost of education for their children, while doctors and teachers complained of low salaries and unfair work contracts. But most of all Israelis demonstrated against the high price of food and fuel.

The Israeli demonstrators did not demand political changes, but only measures to curb the cost of living.

Despite the asymmetry of objectives and motives between Arab revolutions and this "Israeli Spring", Israelis have been inspired by the heat and beat of the latest developments in the Arab world. This has prompted Mr Netanyahu to postpone his international trip to focus on the crisis at home.


Helicopter crash is a victory for the Taliban

The Taliban's success in bringing down a US helicopter, killing 31 US soldiers, is a matter of great importance for many reasons, not least the fact that 22 of those soldiers belonged to the very unit that carried out the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi observed in its editorial.

"It is only natural that the Taliban would celebrate such a victory, a sweet victory, especially since those killed were responsible for the elimination of the leader of their closest ally."

Nato forces, and specifically the Americans, are in miserable conditions in the tumult that is Afghanistan. The rising number of Nato casualties can be attributed to increased attacks by the Taliban resistance during the holy month, and to the apparent demoralisation of US troops following president Obama's decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan and open dialogue channels with the Taliban to involve them in ruling the country.

Al Qaeda militants and supporters certainly view the operation as divine vengeance for their leader and just punishment for his assassins.

"Ten years into the occupation of Afghanistan, the US is wallowing in the defeat of its forces and projects in that country. Its 100,000 troops and the $7 billion (Dh25.7bn) per month in war expenses can do little to change this fact as long as the Taliban insist on liberating their land."

UAE must rethink blanket social welfare

"Are we going to be a social welfare state forever?" Amani Mohammed asked in a column for the Emirati paper Al Ittihad.

The role of the state is not to provide free stuff, namely education, for its people from birth till death without people showing anything for it, she said.

"Sure, the state is required to provide housing, health care and social welfare for members of the community who are unable to work; this makes perfect sense. But does it mean that the state must go so far as allocate monthly pay to the unemployed?"

Again, some members of the community fully deserve social assistance because they have real needs. Others, however, are fit for work but stay unemployed, because they are spoiled by the monthly allowance they receive. They become too lazy to keep a job that matches their education level, the writer said.

The ministry in charge of social affairs did reduce the numbers of those eligible for welfare recently, but it should have gone farther.

"The era of unconditional social welfare must end," she said. "Giving the unemployed money monthly will not help solve their predicament. In fact, these allocations make them reliant and without ambition. Some may even land a job but wouldn't want to lose the free allocation."


* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk

Published: August 9, 2011 04:00 AM


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