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Press clippings

Arab world in turmoil

As D+C/E+Z was going to press in late February, Colonel Gaddafi was causing bloodshed in Libya, brutally clinging to power. The Op-Ed contributions in media around the world debated his case, but found other aspects of the recent Arab awakening worthy of debate as well.

Qatar: Al Jazeera
Gaddafi reaps what he has sown during his four-decade rule: terror, nepotism, tribal politics and abuse of power.

Britain: Financial Times
Changing attitudes to the colonel (Gaddafi) highlight the way in which western concern over human rights is always coloured by convenience. In the 1980s, the Libyan leader was regarded as the foremost state sponsor of terrorism and rightly denounced for his dreadful human rights record. Saddam Hussein of Iraq, by contrast, was largely tolerated because he was useful in containing Iran. When the US decided it needed to topple Saddam, his ghastly human rights record received much more attention. By contrast, the cruelty of Col Gaddafi’s regime has been downplayed in recent years.

India: Business Standard
Saudi Arabia pumps around 10 % of the world’s oil supplies and is the only country with adequate reserves to meet a supply shortage created by any further disruption to Libyan supplies. Consequently, as the unrest spreads, analysts expect oil prices to continue to firm up. (...) Perhaps France should take the initiative, as chair of the G20, and call for a G20 discussion and action on oil prices. The last thing the world economy needs now is a slowdown in growth on account of the uncertainty caused by the situation in the Arab world and the Persian Gulf. As a member of the G20, Saudi Arabia can be urged to take steps.

Pakistan: Dawn
In Tunisia, the head of state has been thrown out, but the system has not been touched. In Egypt’s “faceless revolution”, neither a revolution has taken place nor is the change faceless. What has happened is that the armed forces that protected Hosni Mubarak chose to stop doing so and rehabilitated themselves with the masses first by not killing them in the Tahrir Square and later on by giving Mubarak marching orders. In all the Arab states, the first beneficiary of the present wave of democratic stirrings will be the armed forces. The Pakistani people can easily appreciate the real significance of the tumult in the Arab lands because it is broadly following the pattern of Pakistan’s revolutions and counter-revolutions.

Nigeria: The Guardian
As the (Egyptian) military embarks on a transition, we wish to remind it that it is the military inistution that backed the Mubarak regime that failed. For the transition process to be meaningful, a complete overhaul of the system is inevitable and this may best be achieved by a government of national unity which binds divergent forces in the Egyptian society in the short run. Besides, the onus rests on the next government in Egypt to address the basic contradictions that engendered the revolt in the first place. The issues, we recall, were grinding poverty, with over 50 % of the population living on less than two dollars per day; political alienation of the citizens through repression; and widespread corruption.

Algeria: El Watan
Lifting the state of emergency (in Algeria) was more a psychological than a practical affair. What one hand is giving will be taken back by the other. The government uses language about fighting terrorism and “subversion”. Since it is well understood that the latter term has always been ambiguous in our country, there is a risk that it will be stretched to cover everything that casts doubt on those in power, including demonstrations, rallies, sit-ins et cetera.

Kuwait: Al Watan Daily
It is almost impossible for Islamic fundamentalism to thrive in an environment that is laced with the ideals of democracy in the Arab world. Islamic fundamentalism thrives more under authoritarian regimes and dictatorships that limit, restrict and stifle freedoms. Oppressed peoples are then left with no other option than to resort to religion in search of living their lives that are free from the agonies of tyranny.