Africa needs a lot more than a speech

'Africa's future is up to Africans' is quite an attractive slogan with a sound theoretical resonance, but the crude reality in the African continent renders such a statement, taken from the speech delivered by the US President Barack Obama in Ghana last Saturday.

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"Africa's future is up to Africans" is quite an attractive slogan with a sound theoretical resonance, but the crude reality in the African continent renders such a statement, taken from the speech delivered by the US President Barack Obama in Ghana last Saturday, rather simplistic, noted the Emirati daily Al Khaleej in an editorial. How can a continent, whose present still mirrors the miseries of its past, be in full control of its future?, the newspaper asked. "Of course, past troubles and their ramifications can always be overcome, but only when the factors that combined to cause them have been eliminated." True, the slave trade ended some time ago, but only after having exhausted the African demographic structure. "Direct colonialism" may have left Africa, but only after it had systematically plundered its resources and cultivated hotbeds of all sorts of ethnic, religious and political conflicts. In the past, colonial powers looted African wealth directly, now large western corporations are doing the same under pseudo-legal, inequitable business terms. What Africa really needs is the means to come out of the cycle of poverty, famine and violence, which can never be attained unless the "big countries" stop perceiving it as a permanent recipient of charity and begin to see its earnest hope for a brighter future.

"The decision of the Israeli minister of transportation, Yisrael Katz, to change the names of Arab villages and towns located within the Green Line to Hebrew names represents a historical distortion and an attempt to smother the Arab identity, which seems to confirm a heated competition within the Israeli right-wing cabinet as to which minister can prove more racist towards the Arabs," commented the Qatari daily Al Raya in its main editorial. This new "racist" decision corroborates Israel's determination to corner the Arabs of 1948 - those who stayed in what is now Israeli land after the declaration of the Israeli state in 1948 - to pave the way for their future eviction. It is quite ironic that this new decision should coincide with Benjamin Netanyahu's call on the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to meet and discuss the resumption of peace talks. "The whole situation bespeaks an Israeli contempt for the facts, for Palestinians and their president, and for the international community at large." The Arabs and Palestinians are paying the price for not having reacted promptly and effectively to Israel's plan for the establishment of a "Palestinian state", which was publicly detailed by Mr Netanyahu, and the world is now being lulled into accepting Israel as an exclusively Jewish state.

In an editorial, the Palestinian daily Al Quds hailed as a "very positive move" the proposition of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, Javier Solana, to refer the "two-state solution" for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the attention of the Security Council. "It would definitely be a significant tool to exert international pressure on Israel," the newspaper said. Tel Aviv's immediate rejection of the European diplomat's proposal was only too predictable, since Israel is against the solution in the first place, despite Benjamin Netanyahu's woolly consent, which he has conditioned by unrealistic demands. Mr Solana embodies the position of the EU as a whole. "He did not leave it vague either; he stressed that the proposal must tackle border delimitation, the refugees issue, sovereignty over Jerusalem and security measures." Of course, the United Nations resolutions, including the Security Council's, are not binding unless ratified by the "superpowers", namely the five permanent members of the Security Council. Now, Arab countries must seize this European initiative and push for its elaboration into a binding resolution, especially that the key UN members are overtly in favour of the two-state solution.

After having failed to demonise the spontaneous outburst of disgruntled Iranian citizens, following the last presidential elections, now the Velayat-e Faqih regime is bringing its nuclear programme to the forefront in order to divert public attention from the violent acts of repression that were undertaken to terminate street anger, wrote Wafiq al Sammarai in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat. Iran is seeking to cause an international military escalation, if on a limited scale, to somehow make time to heal its internal affairs. But by doing that, Iran would simply be missing the target, as usual, the writer said. "Because Iran's weaknesses are far greater in number and significance than its strengths." First, Iran is economically exhausted and politically alienated; any further sanctions on it will refuel public anger and strengthen the opposition. Second, Iran's military equipment is mediocre, compared to western military technology. Third, the plurality of fronts that such a relatively massive country as Iran should defend in case of attack, in the light of modest defence logistics, make the country even more vulnerable to aerial operations. Especially that "any military action by the international community against Iran will certainly not be ground-based." * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi