Referendum will not solve Sudan's issues

'The Sudanese are still divided because leaders have failed to build trust and achieve peace.'

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"Five years after concluding a peace agreement, the Sudanese are still divided because leaders have failed to build trust and achieve peace," Hazem Mubaidheen wrote in a comment article for the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai. The Sudanese soon will decide about the unity of their country in a referendum. This is taking place amid rising fears that separation could lead to a further disintegration of the South because of its tribal character. Moreover, if Sudan is split, the new government in the South will face problems related to power conflicts between clans.

So far, southerners have not built an official army of their own. Many political groups doubt the ability of the standing army to protect civilians because of its weak composition based on militias. Moreover, most soldiers have not been paid, which means they will hardly be able to maintain security. The South also suffers as many migrant workers from East Africa, who have played a vital role in the South's emerging economy, have left because of maltreatment. The same is true for northerners who left because of persecution since 2005. Politicians and journalists have been harassed and many forced to close their offices. For these reasons, separation should be welcomed only if southerners are able to ensure themselves of a decent life and spare northerners more conflict.

"We are still looking for an educational model that meets the ambitions of the UAE, which is endowed with innovative vision. We are still in a phase of trial and error, as if all the experience we have accumulated is of no use," Muraei al Halyan wrote in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. "Some have said that the present system is fine and we should content ourselves with it. According to this view, focusing on one system will help us avoid disorientation and uncertainty. Others believe that our educational system does not meet university requirements because high school graduates' academic level remain less than the standards set by higher education institutions. A third view advocates continuing our search for an ideal educational model even if it is based on others."

Amid this debate, parents are confused about whether to register their children in public or private schools. "Such indecisiveness should stop. We need to ask ourselves why today's schools ended up like this, and whether it is a wise decision to follow the old school model centred on the teacher and the textbook, or to turn to the latest trends in education." Whatever the case, one thing should be observed: high schools need to meet higher education standards because that will have a great impact on general education outcomes.

Israeli military experts are talking about an imminent assault on Gaza aimed at eliminating Hamas, as Israel intensifies attacks against the Strip, the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi claims in its editorial. "The Israeli aggression is expected for several reasons; most notably, Benjamin Netanyahu's government is in a political deadlock and faces increasing opposition in the West because of its continuous settlement expansion policy. This is seen by many as the main cause holding up the peace process."

The Israeli government is also in a major crisis as Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, rejects resuming negotiations if the Israelis continue building more settlements in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank. Mr Abbas also sets conditions for a timeline and the requirements specified in the Road Map peace plan. "The war on Gaza will not help Mr Netanyahu get out of his present limbo; rather, it probably will worsen his position. Last year's assault on the Strip has only strengthened the position of Hamas, and has put Israel in confrontation with the whole world. Since then, Israeli politicians have been under threat of being sued for crimes against humanity."

"Clashes between the opposition and the regime in Iran have not stopped for more than six months. In this confrontation, the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has enjoyed strong support from the supreme leader, conservative clerics, Basij forces and the Revolutionary Guards. This means the opposition led by Hossein Mousavi and others has narrow room for manoeuvre," the Saudi newspaper Al Watan said in its leader.

The opposition still enjoys wide support from a large section of Iranian society, which is eager for change. The opposition leaders do not seek radical change, such as the overthrow of the whole system. They are seeking reform within the regime, without touching the fundamentals of the Islamic revolution. Nevertheless, no one can diminish the effect of the green revolution that has swept Iranian streets. Even though Mr Ahmadinejad has saved his job, Iran remains a pluralistic society and all he can do now is distract the opposition by finding external enemies. However, all these attempts cannot hide the truth that an uprising is brewing. At this point, Arab nations are very concerned and hope Iran will not export its crisis as it did after the Islamic revolution three decades ago.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi