Russia stands on wrong side of Arab Spring

Arabic editorials also comment on the UAE's FNC elections, Egypt's stance towards Israel and the challenges of post-Qaddafi Libya.

Russia gives Arab despots false hopes

Russia's less-than-enthusiastic stance on the Arab Spring, and its high tolerance for repressive Arab regimes, raise many questions about Moscow's real interests in the region, wrote Abdullah Iskandar, managing editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat, in a column yesterday.

But that is not all, he went on. Russia's patience with the now-fugitive Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and the embattled Syrian president Bashar Al Assad has nurtured these leaders' illusions that Moscow has got their back.

Russia was unrealistically pushing for "reconciliation" in Libya even when the situation on the ground was clearly past the stage of parleys. "This created an illusion in the mind of Tripoli's dictator, making him believe that he could still turn the tables on the ground, cushioned by the Russian position.

"Worse perhaps, it had him thinking that he would not really have to make any concessions to his people to achieve that reconciliation."

The same applies to Syria. The way Moscow has been handling the Syrian issue at the UN Security Council is deluding Mr Al Assad's regime into believing that it is ultimately immune to international pressure, the editor added.

If the "wrong messages" coming out of Russia ended up protracting bloodshed and destruction in Libya, now they are indirectly standing in the way of radical reforms in Syria.

 

FNC needs higher candidate standards

The committee overseeing the UAE Federal National Council election process announced last week the list of candidates who will compete for the council's 20 elected seats (out of a total 40) on September 24, wrote Mohammed bin Huwaidin, an associate professor of political science at UAE University, in the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan.

There are 20 people on that list who will become representatives of the Emirati people, the writer said, contributing their recommendations and suggestions to the nation's lawmaking process.

But the list seems to be missing distinguished opinion makers and prominent figures in the community. "In fact, the majority of candidates are people who do not have a distinguished presence in the community," the writer said.

The candidate list for the first FNC elections, in 2006, was richer in the weight of the names included; you had prominent academics, renowned journalists and successful businessmen and women.

No one can blame this year's candidates for running, as is their right. But it would not be ill-advised, since there are no political parties in the UAE, to consider a system whereby the candidates with the best credentials get to represent the community.

That would be the next step on the road to developing the FNC, the writer said.

 

 

Egypt raises its head after years of bowing

Egyptian crowds picked various names for Friday protests during and after the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak's regime, columnist Mazen Hammad wrote in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

After the "Friday of Anger", the "Friday of Perseverance", "The Friday of Endurance", but the name that Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square gave to last Friday's protest was out of the ordinary: "Friday of Expelling the Israeli Ambassador", the writer said.

The killing of Egyptian border control guards by Israelis in helicopters, following the bomb attack on an Israeli bus over a week ago, hit a nerve with the Egyptian people.

"Egyptian crowds now want to tell the world that everything Israel used to get away with during the Hosni Mubarak era will not be forgivable now in the era of the revolution," the writer went on.

Gaza-based militants are said to have crossed into Israel through Sinai and conducted the attack, which left several Israelis dead.

But Egypt would not cower under accusations that its border control was lax. "The standard practice under the regime of the ousted president [Mr Mubarak], which mainly consisted in bowing one's head, is now giving way to a level-head attitude, with crowds demanding loudly and clearly that Israel be held accountable for its crimes," the writer said.

 

 

Qaddafi leaves many challenges behind

The end of Muammar Qaddafi's rule marks the end of a long chapter in the history of not just Libya, but of the wider Arab region, columnist Jaber Habib Jaber wrote in the London-based paper Asharq Al Awsat.

With such a long legacy of poor governance, post-Qaddafi Libya faces serious challenges already.

Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, Libya has significant natural resources that will come in handy in rebuilding, but there are non-financial snags that may stall the country's reconstruction efforts.

For example, what if the legitimacy of Libya's Transitional National Council - the effective governing body - is impugned?

After all, the TNC was formed when half the country was still under Col Qaddafi's control, and it gained recognition mostly from the outside. Bickering over issues of sovereignty and legitimacy may crop up at any time, and these are serious and would take time to solve, the writer said.

Another potential snag on the road of rebuilding is the solid core of families, even whole social groups, that thrived under Col Qaddafi and will not necessarily be cooperative, since the revolution did not serve their purposes.

"How these [groups] would be dealt with … will determine the course of social reconciliation and how fast it will seep in."

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi

AElbahi@thenational.ae

Published: August 29, 2011 04:00 AM

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