Sudan has sown the seeds of secession

While Sudan is heading towards a referendum, leaders of the North should ponder why separation is such an attractive option, observed Abdullah Iskandar in a commentary for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

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While Sudan is heading towards a referendum, leaders of the North should ponder why separation is such an attractive option, observed Abdullah Iskandar in a commentary for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

As the post-referendum phase will need widespread political participation and efficient institutions, the government needs to take appropriate measures to strengthen its unity, as the separation of the South is likely. It needs especially to contain core and marginal causes of friction across provinces under its sovereignty.

Irrespective of the ongoing political events, the ruling party has focused primarily on a major concern: to stay in power no matter what. In most cases, offcials have evaded responsibility, sometimes accusing previous governments, and sometimes external powers.

The government has, in fact, failed to make the idea of unity attractive to all Sudanese constituents since the peace agreement which provided for the referendum. The government has not been able to win the hearts and minds of groups in the North either. Nor was it able to handle the Darfur crisis.

The die is cast. The government in the North is now adopting a populist approach to ensure survival, as President Omar al Bashir declares he will reform the constitution. That change will not afffect the power structure to accommodate the diverse Sudanese society or to ensure freedom and rights.

Khamenei's fatwa on tribunal is unwelcome

In a comment article in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat, Tariq Alhomayed wrote that many conclusions could be drawn from the statement of the Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, that rejects any ruling by the International Tribunal for Lebanon.

This tribunal is a rubber stamp court, and any verdict it may issue is null and void, said Khamenei. These remarks confirmed that Hizbollah is an Iranian tool to use for bargaining with Europe concerning its nuclear programme and with Israel in the event of a military action.

Khamenei's declarations assert that he has still the final say on all state matters in Iran. This came to implicitly restrict the powers of both the presidency and the foreign ministry. Apparently, Khamenei's remarks  came following a request from Hizbollah to seek support from friendly countries to prevent the issuance of an indictment verdict. This had received no support. Syria, for example, insisted that the matter should be resolved among the Lebanese themselves.

The move is likely to complicate the already fragile political situation in Lebanon because any support from the Islamic Republic to Hizbollah will be to the detriment of other  political factions. At the same time, it may put Damascus in a new dilemma: either to stay neutral or to intervene if security worsens in Lebanon. "At any rate, Syria has little to do about the course of the tribunal."

Doubts about Iraq's ability to host summit

In  an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda, Shaker al Nabulsi criticised the intention of the Iraqi government to hold the upcoming Arab summit in Baghdad for political reasons.

Iraq is under the increasing influence of Iran, which interferes in much of its politics. "So organising a summit in Baghdad is almost like organising it in Tehran."

Some of the Iraqi religious political parties appear to be loyal to Tehran, while Iranian religious nationalism aspires to build a Persian empire with the atomic bomb as its core asset.

Both states reject their past and look forward to a future tailored by the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.

So why has Iraq insisted on holding the summit while its organising ability is questionable amid a shaky security situation? Another more relevant question is what will a new Arab summit bring to Iraq or to Arab states in general?

It is possible that the Iraqi political establishment would like to polish its image after it has long been involved in acts that affected aspects of Iraqi culture and education.

"Perhaps, the Iraqi people, who are  deprived of basic infrastructure and other services, are more eligible to benefit from the budget that will go to finance the meeting of the Arab leaders."

Against exploiting the residency procedures

It is obvious that there are those who try to trade on the smallest loopholes to make a material profit, regardless of law and order. Such is the case of people who seek individuals who require assistance with residency procedures, wrote Fadila al Mueini in the Emirati daily Al Bayan.

Individuals in the UAE are paying up to Dh70,000 to get the country's residency stamp in their passports by any means possible, although they have many reasons to fear losing their funds, especially under a law that doesn't protect the unlawful.

The authorities are required to clamp down severely on law-breakers and to ward off cheap profiteering off people's needs.

The laws of this country are far from unjust. There are rules that must be abided by and rights that must be safeguarded for all individuals living in this land.

"Allowing certain nationalities to acquire residency and banning others is a matter left strictly to the discretion of the authorities out of our confidence that their decisions are first and foremost beneficial to the public interest. But it is utterly unacceptable that some take advantage of some decisions and loopholes to achieve personal gains."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi