Although the Syrian president Bashar Assad confirmed during his last visit to Paris that there was no Saudi-Syrian initiative regarding the International Tribunal for Lebanon and that the controversy should be solved among the Lebanese themselves, the issue is still attracting attention, observed Tariq Alhomayed in a commentary for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.
Some Lebanese and Saudi sources said that after the indictment of Hizbollah, the March 14 alliance might announce that justice has been achieved. The Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri's bloc may withdraw from the trial, but without obstructing its course.
According to other sources, Hizbollah needs to meet four conditions: the abolition of the veto power system in the Lebanese government, the withdrawal of weapons, joining the national dialogue, and contributing to the implementation of the Taif agreement decisions.
Yet, many believe that Hizbollah is aware that any initiative is less likely to help it out from its current impasse, which explains why the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has described the tribunal as null and void. His opinion, in fact, was not a surprise for most Lebanese since Mr Khamenei expressed the same stance during Mr Hariri's last visit to Tehran, although it was not made public then.
Extremists have served Israel well
In an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda, Saleh al Qallab wrote that Christmas celebrations this year were marred by the recollection of deadly attacks on churches and Christian communities in the Arab world.
But those who sow death and destruction are not Muslims; they are criminals and terrorists. Acting in the name of Islam, extremists have terrorised Christians in Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq. They have grossly distorted the image of Islam and help propagate Islamphobic feelings world-wide.
This has also given reason for Israel to claim it is the frontline defence against the West against rising religious extremism. Extremists thus have served the Israeli claim to have a new role for regional empowerment.
Because of the Christian issue, Israel can also avert international pressure to freeze settlement activities and meet its obligations to the peace process in the Middle East, mainly to grant the Palestinian people full rights to establish their independent state.
It is time now that Muslim scholars as well as Islamic and nationalist leaders should realise the risks posed by extremist crimes against Arab Christians. They should act swiftly to put an end to this.
Escalation in Darfur at a critical time
The latest events in Darfur which, according to Khartoum, led to the death of 40 rebels and soldiers, cannot be incidental, noted the UAE newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial.
They came at a time when South of Sudan is heading towards secession. And although the referendum is the only reference to decide on the issue, preparations are in full swing either in Sudan or internationally to deal with the new situation as if the separation of Sudan is certain and only a matter of time.
There is a symbolic dimension of the escalation in Darfur in the run- up days to the referendum, which may lay the ground for further divisions. The secession of the South might set a precedent that will lure more provinces to follow the same path which, in turn, would spark new hotbeds of violent tension.
In Darfur, there is ongoing support to the leaders of rebellion, either through logistics or media coverage. The ultimate aim is to convert a handful of legitimate rights by local political forces into public demands to seek secession similar to what is expected in the South. This is happening while the central government is submerged with pressing issues ranging from opposition in the North to the arrest warrant against the president Omar al Bashir.
Moving UAE identity registration forward
"Fines on failing to meet the deadline for identity cards have been postponed so many times that there is every reason to doubt whether there was any strategy in place when the project was first launched," observed Amani Mohammed in a commentary for the UAE newspaper Al Ittihad.
"Because identity registration is a vital project, it should have been important to plan well for the capacity of its centres. It should be noted that those who have not yet registered number more than five million people, while the deadlines set each time do not proportionally correspond to the centres' capacity."
The identity card is not only an important identification document, but it has also a security dimension, especially since we receive hundreds of new workers every day.
Frequent delays raise the question: why has identity registration not been linked with residence permit renewal since the launch of the project? This could be to a large extent the right decision, which goes in line with the identity registration's requirements.
* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem