Who calls the shots in Syria no longer relevant

Arabic newspapers also comment on calls by Netanyahu for renewed negotiations, and the responsibility of Somalia's Al Shabbab for blocking aid and the historic trial of Hosni Mubarak.

Who is calling the shots in Syria?

Editor-in-chief Tariq Alhomayed, wrote in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat that many question who truly rules Syria.

The most frequent query regards which party currently calls the shots behind the scenes: is it the president, Bashar Al Assad, his brother or the old guards of the regime?

It is difficult for some to accept that an educated person like Mr Al Assad could treat his people with such brutality as this, shelling Hama every 10 minutes.

Regardless, Syrians are now turning against members of the regime, not only the president. Mr Al Assad bears the brunt of the blame because since he rose to power, he has been involved in a series of mistakes. He was behind extending the mandate of the former Lebanese president Emile Lahoud, which was followed by fatal incidents, including the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Al Hariri.

Mr Al Assad was also behind efforts to subvert the Arab peace initiative proposed by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, in addition to his role in Iraqi politics since the removal of Saddam Hussein. He also maintains a strong alliance with Tehran.

At home, he has failed to honour his promises to introduce reforms, incarcerating opposition figures instead. One of the banners in Homs said: "A message to Al Assad: your troops will move out from Homs, as it moved out from Lebanon."

PA should stick to its plan regarding UN vote

Suddenly, the Netanyahu government has discovered the merits of the peace process and has launched a diplomatic campaign to resume it in an attempt to lure the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiations table and away from its plan to seek international recognition at the United Nations, said the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi daily in its editorial.

The PA's plan to extract international recognition for an independent state is a small step that has been overly exaggerated. In fact, it doesn't amount to an achievement and would translate into nothing more than another recommendation by the General Assembly that can be added to more than sixty UN resolutions that have yet to be implemented.

"Nonetheless, since Israel is adamant on obstructing the PA's plans, the major challenge would be to go ahead with it."

The concern is that the PA would forsake its stratagem for financial reasons, as Washington and other donor states are exerting huge pressure on the Authority, which would prevent it from paying the salaries of its 150 thousand employees.

Mr Netanyahu's proposal or a return to negotiations is based on President Obama's suggestions in his address to AIPAC.

This means that the Israeli PM wants to hide behind the American cloak and cause a rift between the PA and the US administration if the former was to reject his new initiative.

Starving Somalis being denied western aid

Somalia's Muslim Youth Movement has been denying people the chance to flee the famine and detaining them in concentration camps, observed the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

With such strict measures, the movement is compounding the famine problem, especially as it is forcing many western aid organisations to leave the country, thus denying people much needed aid.

The situation is quickly deteriorating as thousands are dying of a famine that threatens to be much worse than that of 1992.

The tragedy is that such a devastating famine has hit one of the world's poorest countries, more precisely in southern Somalia where the ruling Muslim Youth Movement rejects any Western assistance.

"A close look at the situation in the African Horn reveals that a large number of Somalis will die because they can't accede to safe areas where they can be provided with food."

Starving Somalis face one of two possibilities: either escape to neighbouring Kenya or Ethiopia where they could find some assistance, or remain in an area controlled by Al Shabaab who have declared their alliance to Al Qaeda and are "purging" their areas of everything western, even aid organisations. It even went so far as to ban vaccinations, claiming they were a western conspiracy to kill Somali children.

A historic trial like no other starts in Egypt

Yesterday, the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, his interior minister and six of his top aides began at the headquarters of the police academy, wrote the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram.

Mr Mubarak was at this same place, named after him, just two days before the outbreak of the revolution, to attend a police day celebration.

He also delivered a speech on that occasion as usual.

Destiny yesterday brought him back to the same place but for a totally different purpose.

This time, he was there to stand trial for killing people during the street protests.

There is no doubt that this trial is a historic event by all measures, which hopefully will bring comfort to all Egyptians who lost loved ones in recent events.

Millions of Egyptians are looking forward to this trial to condemn those who were responsible for years of suffering and injustice.

The trial is also significant in the sense that it will serve as a reminder to all those in power to act in accordance with law, and establish a tradition of accountability.





* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk


Published: August 4, 2011 04:00 AM


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