Military confrontations recurred in Darfur in the last week, with fierce battles taking place in El Fasher, the capital of north Darfur, between government troops and those loyal to the Justice and Equality movement, remarks Mahjoub Othman in the UAE newspaper Al Ittihad. Official reports say that large-scale warfare has resulted in the death of three hundred militants. 86 others were also reported captured, while large weapons and equipment caches were seized.
Meanwhile, political efforts to contain the crisis were undertaken in Qatar between representatives of the central government and a number of small factions. Yet what undermines such an endeavour is the continous absence of the two main rebel groups in the province, the Justice and Equality and the Sudan Liberation Movement, which represent the major tribes of Al Zaghawa and Al Four. The situation in Darfur and the stalled talks has led the Sudanese government to call for new solutions negotiated at home. It said that overseas negotiations should end, despite having made headway. The opposition, however, denounces the idea, saying that the government wants to "dampen down the Darfur issue" by involving provincial officials in future talks. All are members of the ruling party, it says. Given theses reasons, the author rules out a peaceful end in sight for the crisis.
Yasser Zaatra denounced comments in the Jordan newspaper Addustor that 12,000 death sentences were issues and carried out in the last five years. The accouncement was made by the Iraqi minister of human rights, Wijdan M Salim.
A non-governmental human rights organisation said that such a trend has taken momentum during the mandate of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. "There is no doubt that those who were executed, under the guise of a trial, had received their sentences based on confessions under duress? And most likely, such trials should have been undertaken by Iraqis? who felt free to exercise murder in all its forms.
"This prompts us to ask whether these are the only death crimes? Of course not. There are many more who were killed without trials at all." The official death machine took toll on both Sunnis and Shiites. Yet we should not ignore the indirect support of occupation forces to such a practice through what were called "death squads". Today's revelation is unusual, however. That a member of the present government emerges to make this announcement in public raises many speculations. "I could just think of one: maybe it is a settling of accounts among ruling politicians themselves."
Egyptian sources denied Israeli allegations that the construction of the steel wall along the border between Egypt and Rafah had been halted on the grounds that it had failed to stop the smuggling of goods and weapons into the Gaza Strip, reports Yousra Mohammed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat. The sources affirmed that work was continuing on the wall and that construction was underway in Al Sarsouriya and the north of the Rafah crossing point. Work on the Salah Eddin border did not start yet because of population density and the large number of tunnels there, which could cause the collapse of houses, explained the same sources.
They added that drilling equipment were still in place along the border, while work had ended in large segements of the wall, amounting to about 7km. Sulaiman al Buaira, a local official in Rafah, said the resumption of work in this area would require compensating house owners, which is being examined now. Earlier, Israeli military sources claimed that construction was stopped, while two Egyptian security officials said that the wall had failed to stop smuggling. Elsewhere, it was mentioned in the Israeli intelligence website, Debka, that American and French engineers had abondoned the project. Egyptian authoriies refused to comment on the presence of foreign experts, asserting that the construction was undertaken by Egyptians only.
In a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Hayat, Waleed Shaqir maintains that the latest visit to Syria by Lebanese premier Saad al Hariri has shown that the regional challenges facing both countries require them to act in unison. Damscus and Beriut, after years of mistrust, have grown more conscious of the necessity of adopting a more pragmatic, mutually assured approach. High level diplomatic visits have moulded this policy.
Syria aspires towards upgrading its regional role, but to do so must reconcile itself with its Lebanese counterparts. Good relations with Beirut have restored a modicum of stablity to Lebanon's political scene. Likewise, a peaceful Lebanon is also beneficial to Damascus, as an eventual war against Lebanon and Hizbollah would have dire consequences. Syria wants to ready itself for the repercussions of the International Criminal Court's verdict that may hold some members of Hizbullah responsible for the assassination of Rafiq al Hariri. All outcomes are likely to have an impact on the internal stability of Lebanon.
* Digest compiled by Moustapha el Mouloudi email@example.com