"Holland is losing its patience for tolerance" is an oft-recurring phrase that echoes throughout Dutch cities of late. Last May's electoral victory of the far-right Freedom Party leader, Geert Wilders, has given the country's media a licence to use it liberally, the London-based newspaper Al Hayat reported yesterday. After more than a quarter of Dutch voters cast their ballots last year for the Freedom Party, that calls for the expulsion of the country's Muslim communities, the Dutch government has passed a set of immigration laws almost identical in tone to Wilder's propositions of "deporting" foreigners.
One piece of legislation, which was initially applicable only to those of Turkish and Moroccan descent, those that comprise the two largest immigrant communities, offers immigrants salaries for life if they are willing to give up their Dutch nationalities and return to their "home" countries. A single immigrant is offered a monthly pay of up to 500 euros (Dh2,300) against the value of their Dutch passport. A family would be offered 650 euros (Dh3,000) under the same terms.
"A polite and legally sound form of expulsion," Al Hayat noted. Immigrant communities in the country are being pressured in two ways: at a psychosocial level, because of the right-wing parties and radical movements that threaten them with expulsion; and on a legislative basis - in view of these new laws that legally pressure them to leave.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz confirmed that Yuval Diskin, who heads Israel's general security services, Shabak, visited the Palestinian Authority' security headquarters in Jenin, Palestine, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi's editorial stated.
"Everything is possible in these bad times." A mutual security co-ordination agreement already exists between Israeli and Palestinian security authorities, "but for this co-ordination - a sin in itself - to evolve into a full-blown merger is hard to fathom." It remains to be seen whether or not the Palestinian Liberation Movement, Fatah, will admit to this collaboration with a body responsible for the systematic repression of thousands of Palestinians.
Many argue that the Oslo Accords expressly laid down coordination in security matters -between Palestine and Israel; however, the accords also stipulated that Israel withdraw completely from all Palestinian occupied territories and that an independent Palestinian state be established five years after the agreement is signed. None of that has transpired. Diskin's visit to Jenin, the model city for Palestinian resistance and heroism, is indeed an insult to all Palestinians.
An upcoming referendum to decide if southern Sudan should re-unite with its capital in Khartoum - or secede to create a separate state - must take place, irrespective of any obstacles ahead. If not, the country may be on the brink of exploding once again, noted Ahmed Youssef Ahmed, the director of the Hebrew Studies and the Research Centre in Cairo, in the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.
Yet any outcome of this referendum will be easy to predict. Demonstrations in Southern Sudan - reported as "spontaneous" while a sophisticated level of organisation points to the contrary - are already claiming the right of southerners to a separate state. But the move towards secession will always be present irrespective of political manoeuvreing. It's a situation reminiscent of the Sudanese split from Egypt in the 1950s, decided upon by the Sudanese political elite despite ongoing preparations for a referendum.
The central government in Khartoum has tried to make a united Sudan appeal more to southerners by directing significant financial investment towards the southern provinces, but these steps were too little, too late, the writer notes. "The measures of these recent months would not suffice to stamp out the outcome of decades-long policies. "Unless a miracle happens or a spectacular development turns the country into a tinder-box again, Sudan's foreseeable future is almost decided by now."
A hundred days after the national elections were held in Iraq the Iraqi political scene is still frozen, states the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial. The differences between the key political blocs, and their inability - if not unwillingness - to reach any form of compromise, are dragging the country into a deeper political quagmire and preventing it from dealing with its more pressing and concrete issues: the challenges of development, infrastructure and basic public services.
"The postponement of the parliamentary session that was due to be held yesterday, or leaving it open for two weeks, as was decided by political leaders on Monday, is not the much-awaited solution." Iraq's political leaders have not yet learned to rise above luxurious quibbles over legal formalities and focus on their nation's higher interests. Personal attitudes and petty sensitivities are not what Iraqis need to recover their prestige in the region and the world. No political bloc should expect to dictate its own terms on how Iraqi affairs are to be managed; all must accept to make a compromise.
* Digest compiled by Achraf ElBahi aelbahi@thenational.