Brain drain costs Arab world dearly

More than one million Arab experts and specialists are living in developed countries and most of them never return to their homeland.

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In response to reports from the Arab League and the United Nations revealing the increasing phenomenon of brain drain in the Arab world, Lebanese columnist Khaled Ghazal, in an article for the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat, described Arab communities as "repellent for scientific skills". More than one million Arab experts and specialists are living in developed countries and most of them never return to their native countries.

Various are the reasons that drive Arab intellectuals to emigration. Some are attracted to the technological and scientific revolution in the West. Whereas, in their homelands, they are alienated by the absence of job opportunities and the fear of unemployment - "a situation that breeds a feeling of frustration and despair." The political state of affairs is also a crucial element of brain drain, for most Arab countries suffer political turmoil and wars as witnessed in Egypt, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon and many more. "It appears that this haemorrhage of skills is expected to increase with the continuance of turbulence." Customs, traditions and religious interference can also be strong deterrents for development which drive the learnt community to seek opportunities elsewhere. The brain drain inflicts massive losses on Arab societies in general, losses that amount to billions of dollars.

Has al Qa'eda already reached Israel and Gaza? asked Mazen Hammad in a comment piece for the Qatari Al Watan newspaper. The Israeli Haaretz daily claimed it had reported on a letter sent by al Qa'eda in Yemen to an anti-Hamas group in Gaza, explaining that Houthis from Yemen had contacted the newspaper and disclosed its content. The letter indicated that al Qa'eda intended to help militias, disguised as Somali or Ethiopian Jews to infiltrate Israel.

According to the letter, al Qa'eda has made great efforts to send fighters from Yemen to Gaza, but Hamas rejected the offer on grounds that it has enough fighters. As an alternative, al Qa'eda has turned to address an unknown "fundamentalist" group to act as its partner in Gaza by supplying it with military and other logistical support it may need in case a fight breaks out with Israel or Hamas. al Qa'eda also broached the possibility of smuggling weapons into Israel to carry out attacks there.

The alleged fundamentalist group installed in Gaza was advised to avoid any confrontation with Hamas and to work on promoting the popularity of al Qa'eda in order to recruit members of Hamas later. "Nevertheless, the way the Haaretz's alleged letter is phrased makes it sound like a hoax, and at the same time makes us believe that it is yet another intelligence manoeuvre."

"An Arab intellectual current is almost convinced that an Israeli war in the Middle East is inevitable due to the recent strengthened alliance among Syria, Iran and Hizbollah," said Ammar Dayoub in a comment piece for London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi. In fact, this alliance, which is viewed as an impending menace by Israel and the US, was the direct consequence of Israel's serious and repeated threats. Now an armed conflict could roll out at any moment of madness.

The writer goes on to explain that the strength and readiness of such an alliance has prompted Washington to consider the option of accepting a nuclear Iran, especially since Syria has expressly voiced its preparedness for a comprehensive war in response to Israeli threats. "Should we rule out the probability of a war now? Could Israel live with the new reality and the new alliance that was announced in Syria?" the commentator asked, now that Damascus is growing ever stronger politically and militarily.

America and Israel are facing a predicament. Washington is losing ground on many world fronts and that diminishes its global dominance. As for Israel, it is tied up by agreements with Lebanon and Syria and is plagued by Gaza's resistance and Iran's defiance. Therefore, war appears to be a necessary solution for common plight of the two countries.

"If security is a dire commodity in Iraq, wasting it is even direr, as it can sparkle a new wave of violence, remarked the UAE Al Bayan newspaper. Meanwhile, taking quick measures to consolidate stability is a welcome decision, as the present circumstances cannot withstand prolonged suspense. It is commonly held that Iraqi political forces need some time to reflect on various options and possibilities. This "pause" should end at a certain definite point of time, and so objectives should be clearly set. The post-election period was an occasion to ponder the best approach to govern the country, yet apparently there was no clear effort to move forward in forming the government. This came at a price: the revival of violence, which claimed hundreds of lives, and with it the spectre of endless strife is looming ahead once again.

Irrespective of the delay in establishing a new government and the decision to recount the polls in Baghdad, there is still a glimmer of hope. The two main political blocs have recently agreed to hold a joint meeting to discuss the present stalemate. And regardless of its outcomes, it is likely that it would contribute to expand opportunities for establishing a coalition. * Digest compiled by Racha Makarem