Erdogan plays Palestine card

Other Arabic editorials comment on Russian influence in the Middle East, the FNC race and wealth management after the Arab Spring.

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Palestinian struggle: a prêt-a-porter cause

It was indeed a zealous speech that the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Edogan, delivered at the home of Arabs last Monday, although he didn't utter one single word on Syria, opines Tareq Homayed, the editor of the London-based Asharq Al Awsat.

Mr Erdogan invoked Tunisia's Bouazizi "who reminded the world of the value of human honour", but he somehow failed to comment on the thousands of Bouazizis getting tortured, mutilated and killed in Syria. He devoted the entirety of his "pompous" discourse to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; an unfailing vehicle for anyone wishing to accede to leadership status in our region.

"But Erdogan's problem isn't in his speech," the writer said. "The fact is the Arab public has overcome the Israeli-Palestinian slogan phase. It is noteworthy that all the pro-democracy uprisings so far have yet to call for anything but local issues of human dignity and social justice. The popular demands still resist attempts to regionalise them and Arabs are fed up with billowing slogans."

The Turkish prime isn't the first leader to exploit the conflict nor will he be the last. Ironically, however, while he was delivering his oration at the Arab League insisting that the siege on Gaza be lifted and the Palestinian state be recognised, Hamas deputies had issued a statement calling on president Abbas not to resort to unilateral measures to acquire statehood.

Only miracle can save Russia's stake in region

The one thing in common between Iran's Boushehr nuclear reactor that the Russians inaugurated and the Russian marine base that is still under construction in the port of Tartous in Syria is that they both realise an old Russian dream to get to the Mediterranean and Arab Gulf warm waters.

"But in both cases, it is but a fleeting fantasy that only a miracle can maintain," said Satea Noureddin in the Lebanese Assafir daily.

The Boushehr reactor issue is less a Russian challenge to the international position towards Iran than it is a Russian-led international courting of Iran. It is Moscow's way of persuading Tehran that the international community is ready to assist it in harnessing its nuclear capabilities for civil purposes in exchange for more cooperation regarding its nuclear programme.

As uncertain a challenge as it was, it is in fact turning out well as the Iranian command has been more transparent recently with the International Atomic Energy Agency and is giving the West negotiations offers that can't be refused.

But this logic doesn't apply to Syria where the Kremlin has opted once again to side with the regime, as it miserably did before in Libya, which cost Russia a stake in an extensive reconstruction programme in one of the world's richest oil-producing countries.

Personal gain has no place in FNC race

The current race for the UAE Federal National Council (FNC) has not been free from "money talk", commented Mohammed al Hammadi, an Emirati journalist, in the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper Al Ittihad yesterday.

Word is that some are more concerned with the financial allocations awaiting the winning FNC candidates than the electoral process itself. "Their attitude is: 'So if you win this, what's in it for me?'" the writer said.

Others tell of some voters who have asked FNC candidates for sums of money in return for their vote, and candidates who offered money to buy votes, he added.

"We hope this seriously detrimental practice does not infiltrate our electoral experience, and we hope the National Elections Committee, should it receive comments regarding this matter, make a transparent announcement to that effect so as to prevent a handful of people, whose motivation is materialistic, from hijacking a whole nation's dream."

Let's get real, the writer added, a seat on the FNC is more of an "honour" than a "duty", because the FNC does not have enough prerogatives to keep its members constantly busy.

But all things considered, these FNC elections are an important step forward, and we must all be positive and push for a high voter turnout. "The success of the elections is a success for the whole UAE; a candidate's win is only his own."

Arab must improve Wealth management

The new head of Libya's national oil company said his country will resume oil production at pre-revolution levels, which means the Libyan treasury will go back to collecting proceeds on more than 1.5 million oil barrels sold daily on the global markets.

"Good news for a country that spent 42 years under Col Qaddafi's dictatorship, which used oil returns to finance wars, terrorise civilians and allow the Qaddafis and their entourage to live large," commented Randa Taqiy al Din in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

So it is high time Libya's natural resources benefited its people in a transparent way. And this hope is relevant to other Arab Spring nations too, the writer said.

"This is the ambition of every citizen who rebelled in Libya or revolted in Egypt, because they all suffered … while state revenue went straight into the pockets of autocrats."

Take Syria. How many Syrians knew their country made $2.1 billion in oil revenues in 2010? How was that money spent? And where are the investments, if any?

Naturally, no one is expecting the Libyans or the Syrians to switch from the opacity of Col Qaddafi's regime and Baath Party hegemony to a Norway-perfect accountability system. But there is always a beginning to transparency in managing national wealth.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk