US changes stance regarding the PMOI

The unfair judgement by the Iraqi Supreme Criminal Court in the matter of Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf is yet another blunder added to the mistakes of the Iraqi judicial system, commented Jihad al Rantisi in the London-based newspaper Al Arab.

The unfair judgement by the Iraqi Supreme Criminal Court in the matter of Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf is yet another blunder added to the mistakes of the Iraqi judicial system, commented Jihad al Rantisi in the London-based newspaper Al Arab. This court, which was founded seven years ago to prosecute Iraqi figures in the former regime, announced last year that it was no longer taking judicial cases, but has unexpectedly issued an arrest warrant against leaders of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) who reside in Camp Ashraf. By doing this, the court surpassed its jurisdiction.

The court used as a cover the US Administration's decision in 1997 which put the PMOI on its list of terrorists. The same decision was also referred to in order to justify the attack by Iraqi forces on Camp Ashraf last year, leaving many unarmed civilians dead and wounded. However, this court ruling might be challenged, since the US court of appeals is examining the legal grounds used to pronounce that decision, which will open new political horizons in the way the Americans approach the organisation. As well as helping in shaping a new US attitude towards the PMOI in light of the current nuclear crisis in Iraq, this appeal may serve as a warning to the outgoing Iraqi government about the necessity to change its approach toward Camp Ashraf.

Al Qa'eda's operations are spreading to Africa in an attempt to globalise its activities and flex its muscles, commented Tawfik al Madini in the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan.

Analysts say that recent events in Africa are evidence of al Qa'eda's growing strength and its attempt to broaden the geographical sphere of its influence. The Mauritanian army attacked an al Qa'eda camp along its borders with Mali, but it failed to free a French hostage who was kidnapped last April. He was lateexecuted by the group. The French president Nicolas Sarkozy justified the military attack by saying: "The camp that was destroyed was most likely where the hostage was held."

The clashes between Islamic radicals and the Algerian army in the south of Algeria has also been a manifestation of al Qa'eda's on-going attempt at globalisation. Al Qa'eda has made use of many geopolitical and logistical factors to focus its military activities on African countries, taking advantage of a lack of security in the region, mainly in southern Algeria, Mauritania, Chad, Mali and Niger. These facts explain the series of attacks that al Qa'eda has been launching in Africa, which included the killing of four French tourists in a city in Mauritania and an attack on a military base in Niger in March 2010.

In a comment piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda, Badr al Daihani questioned the feasibility of the government policy of expanding the scope of accreditation of private higher education institutions in Kuwait.

Al Daihani doubted whether this trend reflects a well-researched educational plan that meets urgent development needs, arguing that profit is the sole motive for educational entrepreneurs. "In fact, it has always been feared that opening the higher education sector to private enterprise, which benefits from government incentives such as free land plots and buildings as well as scholarships, may create a situation where universities look like supermarkets that display poor quality merchandise."

Some even resorted to accept students with low test levels into special foundation programmes that may last two years or more to prepare them for the tertiary level. In other cases, they accepted many more students beyond the seats available. Students could be the first victims of such poor quality education, one that would minimise their chances to prosper in their careers and contribute effectively to their country's development.  "Since we see that boutique universities are mushrooming, it is time for the authorities to assess objectively the academic programmes offered to ensure they meet standards of quality."

In a lead article, the UAE newspaper Al Bayan called on Arab countries to out Somalia at the forefront of their concerns because of its strategic location and its links with Arab national issues. It is true that Somalis are mostly responsible for their situation, yet this is not an excuse to be indifferent to them by failing to take the necessary measures to stop the "reproduction of warring militias whose armaments and fighting strategies are sometimes hard to understand".

There is no doubt that some commendable Saudi, Yemeni, and Egyptian efforts were made in the past to alleviate the people's sufferings, but they were not pushed to a conclusion. They had been partly successful, yet few follow-up actions were taken to consolidate these efforts and thus prevent the country from sliding into endless fraternal feuds. Because of the near absence of Arabs from the Somali scene, this country is left standing helpless amid the drift of complex regional and international interests. This situation will have bad repercussions on the security of Arab countries.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi