A stronger army to protect Lebanon

In the wake of last week's skirmish between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli army at the border, the Lebanese president Michel Sleiman has been campaigning to provide the national army with better weapons.

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In the wake of last week's skirmish between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli army at the border, the Lebanese president Michel Sleiman has been campaigning to provide the national army with better weapons. In an opinion article for Lebanese daily Annahar, Ali Hamadeh wrote that Mr Sleiman's message upon his visit to the location of the altercation sent a clear message that the army has fully regained its role. He also announced the campaign to develop the army's military capabilities. The news was vastly welcomed by the majority of the Lebanese people who long for the day when the reigns to their security are entirely in the hands of the state.

Parallel armies, no matter what their political excuses are, remain illegal and dangerous. These are strong security forces that serve the interests of foreign countries. They are lethal to Lebanon and to the concept of coexistence. In a minor confrontation with the enemy, the Lebanese army was able to attract the wide support of all the people because they were longing to see their national army assume its duties as the sole legal armed power in the country.

"The Lebanese people from all political directions, including Hizbollah, must support the president's campaign. It is Lebanon's only guarantee, along with abiding by the rules of international legality and resolutions." The stronger the army, the more capable the country would be to avoid crises.

Iraqi politicians are the most responsible for the current impasse because of their endless desire for power, argues Jaber Habib Jaber in a comment piece for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat. The recently formed Shiite bloc of the National Alliance, which comprises the State of Law and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), has brought deep-seated and overlapping interests to play in the debate over who will serve in the office of the prime minister. The INA is reluctant to nominate the current premier Nouri al Maliki, fearing the demise of its political influence, although it is willing to accept a nominee from his bloc.

Mr al Maliki's party, on the other hand, is unwilling to be pushed to the back. Al Iraqiya shares similar concerns of losing this political opportunity to impose its portfolio after staging a remarkable comeback in the last elections. The Kurds, however, feel more content with their future as their nationalist interests unite them, although they have lost many seats in the parliament. External factors, mainly the intervention of the US and Iran, add to the crisis. Americans would like to solve the problem urgently before their withdrawal and as a consequence they may provide "hasty" solutions. Meanwhile, Iranians are keen to prolong the present stalemate as it serves best their interests.

Turkey will find it extremely difficult to join the European Union because the organisation still adopts a Christian ideology and will never let in a member that doesn't religiously belong, even if Turkey does belong geographically, argues Moammar Khouli in the Emirati newspaper Akhbar Al Arab. Even though Turkey has introduced a secular system, shaped its laws according to European standards, and adopted political pluralism since 1946, it still failed to earn a ticket to the EU. And although Turkey has advocated democratic values such as the supremacy of the law, human rights, protection of minorities, and has joined forces with the West during the Cold War, Turkey has not been given credit with a place in the EU. Europe still considers Islam a threat to its stability.

Despite the EU adopting a slogan that says "together in diversity", that motto only accounts for intra-Christian diversity. It excludes any other faith. The EU is just as the former German chancellor Helmut Kohl once described it, a "Christian club". All in all, ideology still has a strong hold on the world of politics, and it's wrong to believe that this ended with the cold war. Socioeconomic divisions have been replaced by religious divisions.

It's only natural that as the Egyptian presidential elections approach, the fuss increases among Egyptians who have great expectations about their future president, writes Mohammed Salah in a comment piece for the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat. The country's press tends to avoid reporting on the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's health because everything that has been said falls within the domain of rumour.

Amid widely circulated predictions that Gamal Mubarak will succeed his father as head of state, he is still reluctant to discuss anything related to his nomination. The debate has been further heightened by spontaneous campaigns across the provinces using conventional and unconventional media to support or oppose the nomination of the president's youngest son. The office of the presidency has clearly articulated that Mr Mubarak is in good health and is undertaking his duties. No party has assumed its responsibility over the campaign that supports Gamal Mubarak's candidacy. This prompted the western media to tone down discussion about Mr Mubarak's health. The ongoing debate is likely to continue, and only after the upcoming parliamentary elections will the fog clear around the Egyptian political scene.

* Digest compiled by Keltoum Ahfid @Email:translation@thenational.ae