The unmarried abound in Jordan

Jordan has 100,000 unmarried women aged over 30 and 50,000 unmarried men aged over 35, and 'measures must be taken'.

"That we have more than 100,000 women aged over 30 years old still unmarried in Jordan is awkward and can have social repercussions," wrote Ahmad Shakir in an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Al Dustoor. More than 50,000 men over 35 years old are bachelors, and most are unable to meet the financial requirements for marriage. In the middle of the last century, any unwed girl over 18 was regarded as spinster, but things have evolved. Socially, it has become acceptable that 25 is the most suitable age for marriage, a time a woman would have finished her higher education. As for men, the preferable age is 30, as it is supposed that they have graduated and obtained a job.

With rising spinsterhood and bachelorhood, there is a need to carry out a thorough study and take some official as well as civil measures to address this situation. "For example, women's employment should be reduced to allow more opportunities for men. This is because women with incomes do not usually accept marrying unemployed men. This does not mean I am against working women. But providing jobs for men should top other priorities." Measures such as economic housing, reducing the value of dowries and conducting simple wedding ceremonies should also be encouraged.

"There have been too many explanations for the assassination of Mahmoud al Madhouh in Dubai," wrote Maysa Rashed Ghadeer in a comment article for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. Some of them relate to Israel's intention to warn the Gulf states, which have not normalised their relations. Other explanations say that Israel seeks to send a message that it is present in the Gulf and is able to strike Iran any time."

The incident could also be understood from a different point of view, however. The Gulf countries by nature include a cluster of many communities who see that the region is a good place because it is open to the world and enjoys stability. Unfortunately, some groups might benefit from this and use the region as a scene for their operations by taking advantage of the open nature of its societies. Some may carry out crimes during their stay, believing that they are above the control of the law. But the reality is that the security authorities are vigilant and up to the situation. "The Israeli presence in the Gulf is reflected in the relationship it has with some countries in the region. This is a known public fact. The fear comes, however, from crimes that Israel may continue to commit across the region. So if Mossad encroached upon the UAE's sovereignty, this incident should be seen as an international crime that would necessitate prosecution and accountability."

In a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat, Othman Mirghini wrote that efforts by concerned parties in Sudan to convince southerners to vote for unity is a futile gesture. At present, most indicators point to separation, and many political observers are talking about the post-separation era.

There had been some opportunities in the past to save the unity of the country. But a long series of political debates and a lack of serious national development programmes has made the southerners more and more determined to go on with their plan for separation. They have become convinced that a partnership which lacks trust is not worth it, and perhaps may lead to more destructive conflicts than before.

Had the central government consolidated unity since the signing of the peace agreement, the situation would have been different now. In fact, the trend was, and still is, to cling to power to the detriment of the nation's unity. Many analysts consider that the peace agreement was a strategy to marginalise other political forces. Some even say that there has been a plot to provoke conflicts between various blocs in the south. "The central government could have enlarged the framework of the peace agreement by integrating more political powers into the government and focusing more on sustainable development."

"So far, we have not been able to understand the Israeli version of peace. Coupled with threats and the beating of the drums of war, Israel seeks a kind of peace which is based on forcing Arabs to surrender and waive their rights, including land and sovereignty, the return of refugees, an independent Palestinian state and the future status of Jerusalem," wrote Subhi Zuaytar in an opinion piece for the Saudi newspaper Al Watan.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, follows this path of thought, terrorising Arabs if they do not comply to Israeli dictates. According to Mr Barak, who fought many wars against Arabs and Palestinians, peace should exclude most Palestinian rights. His view comes into contradiction with Arab peace plans. Israel continues to undermine Arab peace initiatives and may eventually lead the region into the unknown. While taking on this attitude, Israel receives full support from the West, which remains unable to revive peace negotiations as a first step before moving on to other Arab tracks, namely Syrian and Lebanese.

Throughout his statements: "Mr Barak expressed his state's attitude to peace: holding negotiations on Israel's conditions or declaring war." * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi