The free market is not to blame in Jordan

A round-up of Arabic language newspapers.

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In an opinion article carried by the Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad, the economist Jumana Ghunaimat wrote that the government in Jordan was mulling over adopting a welfare state system as a solution to the present economic and social crises.

The economic system adopted throughout the past decade was based on free-market principles, which came at the detriment of people's welfare. A decade after its implementation, many are criticising it because of its sole reliance on the equation of supply and demand.

So any attempt by the government to take extreme measures, such as controlling supply and demand and introducing pricing goods, is likely to be simplistic and unpopular.

It is equally true that the economic programmes introduced failed to ensure a fair distribution of wealth and achieving social justice. As a result, unemployment, poverty and social injustice-related crimes have propagated.

Yet, the free market is not to blame. The problem lies rather in the manner with which successive governments have implemented economic plans, which most of the time lack the far-sighted vision that respond to the population's wants and needs.

Also to blame are the faulty fiscal policies, the indiscriminate distribution of wealth among various regions of the kingdom, a lack of good standards of governance and government performance evaluation.

Libya needs external help to transition

"International intervention is no longer a defect or a source of embarrassment. It has become a popular demand that the masses consider safe and appropriate to oust some corrupt regimes, of which Muammar al Gaddafi is an extreme example," observed Satea Noureddine in a commentary for the Lebanese daily Assafir.

Yet, this does not mean Libyans yearn for a new colonial era. Similarly, the West does not possess the means or the intention to occupy former colonies. The 19th century colonisation campaign was governed by special historical and economic circumstances, which no longer exist.

The Libyan example is more illustrative than the Egyptian or Tunisian one. The latter has got a solid social structure that does not need any foreign intervention to reorganise the state and manage their affairs. Libyans, however, need to be assisted either in killing or arresting Col Gaddafi, and eventually in helping them in the management of the transition period similar to the ongoing one in its eastern and western neighbours.

Libyans are not "a herd of donkeys and rats" or collaborators with al Qa'eda as described by Col Qaddafi. They are simply not ready for self-government, because the regime has destroyed the entire basis that can guarantee a smooth shift of power and immediate functioning of a new system.

Protesters must have an identity in Iraq

The latest protests in Iraq have drawn the political elites' attention to the fact that the Iraqi street no longer accepts corruption and ineffective government, observed Jaber Habib Jaber in an opinion article for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The government has given unexpected concessions, such as abolishing what is called presidency social benefits.

Iraqis have grown aware of the usefulness of protests accompanied by massive media coverage, which attract international public opinion. This helps the process of holding politicians accountable for their acts not only constitutionally but publicly.

Demonstrations in Iraq started when the people realised that the government was involved in fruitless dialogue with political forces about changes to introduce a move that is seen as an attempt to curtail parliament powers and authority. Some provincial officials also acted in irrational ways by focusing on restricting personal freedoms on grounds of protecting national identity instead of performing their assigned duties.

Given the precarious situation of Iraq, protestors should consider protests as a means to achieve demands leading to democratic reforms within the boundaries of the law. They also need to show a clear list of demands and an identity to set themselves apart from saboteurs and profiteers.

A call to abolish sects in Lebanon at last?

Lebanese sectarian leaders perceive Arab protests in a subjective way to suit their political interests, noted the columnist Nabil bou Muncif in an opinion piece for the Emirati newspaper Akhbar al Arab.

It is known that the sectarian makeup of Lebanese society is the shield of most leaders. Yet the latest developments have awakened a glimmer of hope among an almost extinct secular elite for a system that goes beyond rigid sectarian considerations.

"Looking at the present internal circumstances, this is hard to achieve. To abolish sectarianism, this should be done in a decisive manner on two levels: politically and socially. And this is almost impossible in a country like Lebanon.

Similarly, to introduce democratic reforms in Lebanon depends, for the most part, on the willingness of leaders to step down. In Lebanon, they remain in leadership positions for life, taking advantage of a loose system of elections, religious considerations, and some social norms and standards.

It is no wonder then that a personality cult has emerged in Lebanese society. Those "untouchable" political figures are the cause of much democratic crisis that Lebanon endures either within parties proper or in managing the public life as a whole.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi