Demilitarising Beirut is a warning to Hizbollah

"Declaring Beirut as demilitarised zone is legitimate," wrote Satea Noureddine in a lead article for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

"Declaring Beirut as demilitarised zone is legitimate," wrote Satea Noureddine in a lead article for the Lebanese newspaper Assafir. "Such an initiative, if undertaken, is likely to bring security to the capital, taking away its traditional position as the heart of the civil wars that broke out in Lebanon since the mid-1950s." It is possible also that such a move will end a long tradition that glorifies weapons as being  a symbol of a  "second" national identity. Such a proposal has quite often been raised in different forms and for different reasons, to no avail. This is because each time, only parties in the weaker position make the proposal. In most cases, the desire to see an arms-free Beirut is not based on the local balance of power or in reference to state institutions.

But this time, it is the desire of diferent sects. They all sense the fear that war might erupt again following the latest fighting in one neighbourhood in the capital Beirut. Many may say, however, that disarming the capital is not a solution since different militias and other political forces may soon find an alternative place "to settle their accounts". Yet it remains a warning message to Hizbollah that it should hide its weapons and "that it is in a downward spiral, which has already swallowed lots of resistance movements throughout the last 50 years".

"Recently, there have emerged many indications for an imminent agreement between Iraq and Kuwait to share production of oil fields located on the common borders," noted the UAE newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial. This issue has affected the relations between the two countries for 20 years. If it comes true, the agreement is commendable and should indicate good prospects for  bilateral relations. "It is likely to dissipate the cloud of suspicion which has prevented growth of normal relations between Kuwait and Baghdad for two decades."

Both countries will benefit from such a move, as it will deter those who have an interest in prolonging the crisis by constantly raising the issue of borders' demarcation and compensation deducted from Iraq's oil revenue. These issues are governed by virtue of UN resolutions and any pending questions should addressed under the umbrella of the same organisation. "It is obvious that after years of hostility, suspicion and mistrust, there is an urgent need to adopt a more friendly and transparent approach to restore good neighbouring relations, and embark upon future development and partnership programmes." As with oil-sharing, both sides should take further steps to build mutual confidence. Investment projects can sometimes establish stronger strategic relationship than politics can achieve.

In a commentary in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan, Mazen Hammad argues that Israel will not cease its policy aimed at preventing both Syria and Hizbollah from possessing weapons.

To achieve this, Israel is undertaking a lot of political and diplomatic efforts at a time when the US is helping it acquire all sorts of arms. As part of its diplomacy campaign, Israel is trying to persuade Russia not to sell Syria air defensive missiles, which it  considers extremely dangerous because they might pose a major threat to its fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Reportedly, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to inform him that missiles sold to Damascus had later been transferred to Hizbollah and were used against Israel in the Second Lebanon War.

He also pointed out that Syria had acquired Chinese-made anti-ship missiles, and one of these was used to strike an Israeli war boat. The last arm deal between Syria and China was widely reported in the press last year, and it was said to comprise B-800 missiles, which are available in models that can be launched from land. This has been highlighted during the visits made by Israeli officials to Moscow, which will be followed by a visit by the Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak.

"Begging has become institutionalised as a professional activity in Saudi Arabia, as streets are packed with scores of beggars during Ramadan. They come with different physical impairments, many of them self-induced," Mohammed Diyab commented in the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat. This phenomenon is not new; it is a cycle that repeats itself every year. It happened once that a child beggar was arrested and deported, but he emerged the following year in the same place doing the same thing, but with a truncated arm. In fact, deporting those who take begging as a profession is not enough, since many come back to the kingdom during Ramadan and under the guise of Umrah.

So far, police campaigns have failed in containing this phenomenon. This is because there are professional networks that skillfully manage begging behind the scenes. They implement a strict system and known for their careful and savvy "professionalism". "So in order to contain begging, authorities must hunt the big fish behind the battalions of beggars whom they dispatch, regulate and assign their territories.This should be done urgently because begging can lead to crime. We should bear in mind that a professional beggar is a prospective criminal."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae

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