Interests to determine Sudan elections

Sudan is seeking through elections some solutions to its unstable political situation, yet this very option may set new standards for divisions among the population.

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Sudan is seeking through elections some solutions to its unstable political situation, yet this very option may set new standards for divisions among the population, which, in turn, might lead to dismantling the unity of the nation, commented Satea Nouredine in the opinion section of the Lebanese newspaper Assafir. To the western view, this should be a good step forward for peacefully removing the present president Omar al Bashir. It also draws on the assumption that the opposition forces are more democratic and keen to preserve the country's unity.

Such an assumption intersects with growing confidence among a group of Americans to deal with the crisis in Sudan as a US internal affair. Following this trend, the US administration is asked to further contribute to development programmes in friendly African countries.   Indeed, there are many political aspects that need American intervention: most importantly the rise of Islamic militancy, which proliferated in Sudan during the 1990s, and piracy off the African horn. Although many traditionally rush to accuse the West of waging conflicts in the Arab world in order to secure Israel's security, the US and its allies apparently show some interest in achieving stability in Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

That the UN acknowledged, in its report, the difficulty of solving the western Sahara conflict in the near future is symbolic and should prompt the UN to invest more efforts to bring the views of the opposing parties closer, wrote Mohammed el Achab in a comment article for the London-based daily Al Hayat. The UN should invite all parties involved to embrace realistic and rational attitudes "because without a breakthrough in stances, there will be no progress in resolving the stalemate".

The present divergence of attitudes reflects two different visions concerning the nature as well as the purpose of the solution being sought: either to accept the present status of the region within a democracy that would allow the population to exercise greater authority in governing local issues, or to opt for a "move that would radically affect the map of the region". Although Christopher Ross, the UN envoy, urged all parties to meet and discuss the issue in non-official negotiations, any informal discussions have served only to enforce the idea that "any solution would largely depend on a formula of Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general". He was right, however, in his diagnosis of the situation when he described it as hard to penetrate and drew attention to the other dimension of the conflict, which is the humanitarian situation of refugees.

As the Lebanese prime minister Saad al Hariri is preparing for a second visit to Syria next month, he is faced with difficulties within his political team, the Future Movement, and also from the remainder of March 14 alliance, noted Bassam al Dhaw in a comment article run by the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. While Mr al Hariri is talking on a high note about relations with Syria and about the necessity to promote ties with its neighbour, many powerful figures from his clan, however, sound still hostile to a rapprochement policy with Syria. They thus reproduce the same discourse prevalent during the period from 2005 to 2009.

Yet, neither Mr al Hariri nor his Syrian counterparts seemed to have been discouraged by this attitude and both have not given up their policies of openness. It is expected therefore that the Lebanese premier will continue his efforts to promote ties with Damascus, while the latter will reciprocate. The most illustrative example of this attitude is underscored in statements by the Syrian president Bashar al Assad last month when he supported relations based on mutual respect and interests. Mr al Hariri is expected to overcome present obstacles and will eventually manage to unify the Syrian policy within his political bloc. This will help him consolidate his position as an independent leader with stronger influence in the political scene in Lebanon.

"The new START treaty signed on Wednesday represents a new detente between Moscow and Washington. Although it is not the most comprehensive, as some analysts maintained, the agreement could greatly help the process of atomic disarmament at a time of rising concerns about nuclear proliferation," noted the UAE newspaper Al Bayan daily in its editorial.

Many observers consider the convention a major achievement for which the US president Barack Obama and the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev deserve credit. This legal framework is meant to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and reduce the number of nuclear warheads produced by both countries on an annual basis. But it is not known yet whether this agreement will be able to end the strategic animosity between the US and Russia and suppress the psychological urge nurtured by the two powers for various historical and political reasons to control the world.

Although welcome, the treaty does not absolutely impose restrictions on the armaments of the two countries as it allows for each party to determine the structure of its strategic forces within the limits specified. The new convention also did not impose restrictions on missile defence systems. * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi