[IMRA: Except if Israel is the target!]
by Jailan Halawi
“Egypt’s interior minister El-Adli seized the occasion of the Arab interior ministers’ meeting in Amman to renew Egypt’s call for an international conference on terrorism. The meeting, resolving to escalate the battle against terrorism in the region, took up the call.”
Quotes from Text
“Arab interior ministers ended their 16th general assembly… with a statement rejecting ‘terrorism in all its forms.’ “
“The ministers stressed the importance of drawing a distinction between terrorism and the ‘inalienable right… to resist foreign occupation and agression by all means, including armed struggle.’ ” [IMRA: An endorsement of terrorism against Israel — even when a peace process is instituted.]
Arab interior ministers ended their 16th general assembly in Amman… with a statement rejecting “terrorism in all its forms”. The ministers… gave their full backing to an international conference to be held on the subject under the auspices of the United Nations. The conference had been proposed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The ministers stressed the importance of drawing a distinction between terrorism and the “inalienable right of peoples to resist foreign occupation and aggression by all means, including armed struggle.”
The ministers promised to “provide all necessary assistance” to the Palestinian police operating in the self-rule areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The ministers set up a technical committee to decide legal and security procedures for the enforcement of the Arab Treaty on Combating Terrorism which they signed in April.
Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers Ahmed Al-Salem, announced that eight countries had already ratified the treaty, namely: Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan and the Palestinian Authority.
The ministers accepted an invitation from Algerian Interior Minister Abdullah Sallal to hold the next general assembly in Algeria.
by Magdi Ahmed Ali
Quotes from Text
“Governments were quick to grasp cinema’s potential impact on a predominantly illiterate audience. Films were censored to convey a ‘safe’ message.”
“… the totalitarian association of popular aspirations and government policies compromised the true value of art.”
“… art in Egypt is an archive of frustrated hopes and expectations.”
“Is there any room for creativity?”
The Egyptian middle class took centre stage to declare its political aspirations in the middle of the last century. It asserted its eagerness to spearhead an intellectual renaissance and prepared to enter modernity. Thus was the ground set for the efflorescence of historiography and translation, and for the cinema industry’s introduction to Egypt, only a year after its appearance in the West.
Governments were quick to grasp cinema’s potential impact on a predominantly illiterate audience. Films were censored to convey a “safe” message. Films featuring unjust rulers or economic hardship were not released. Even the living conditions of the poor were not deemed suitable viewing material.
After the revolution, the public sector used art to transmit government policy — a trend still in evidence today. At the time, however, most people believed prosperity and development were just around the corner, yet the totalitarian association of popular aspirations and government policies compromised the true value of art.
We have inherited a Higher Institute of Cinema, numerous artists and a repertoire of films that escaped repression and censorship, yet art in Egypt is an archive of frustrated hopes and expectations.
An official censor has absolute power to reject a work as of its inception. Yet even he is not the ultimate censor. Institutions claiming to represent the masses, religious institutions, the press… these bodies exercise censorship too. They dance to the ruler’s tune, cling to the commonplace, and always play it sa fe. Is there any margin left for creativity?
On the Road to Civil Rights
by Zeina Khodr
“Does Lebanon’s decision to ease travel restrictions imposed on the Palestinians signal a more lenient policy towards the refugees?”
Quotes from Text
“Most Palestinians in Lebanon hold travel documents rather than passports… government has announced that the documents will be treated… as passports.”
“… the decision will come into effect after… necessary paperwork was completed and security arrangements were put in place… the decision was taken a long time ago… ” [IMRA:So why wasn’t the proposal in place?]
“The restrictions were imposed in September 1995 to stem the flow of Palestinians deported by Libya in protest against… the Oslo peace accords… “
“… the new leadership [in Lebanon] recognised that peace was not around the corner…. The previous government thought… the fate of millions of refugees… would be resolved…. They kept a tight grip on the Palestinians to ensure they wouldn’t want to stay.”
The decision by the Lebanese government to lift travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians living in the country has been welcomed by Palestinian groups as a step towards alleviating the hardships suffered by the refugees.
Most Palestinians in Lebanon hold travel documents rather than passports but the government has announced that the documents will be treated in the same way as passports.
The government said the decision would come into effect after the necessary paperwork was complete and security arrangements were put in place.
The decision was made days after Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO’s political department, travelled to Beirut to hold talks with officials. However, a Palestinian source said Kaddoumi had not played any role in the government’s decision. “The decision was taken a long time ago but it was only given the green light now,” the source told the Weekly. “Palestinian groups have been lobbying hard for the restrictions to be lifted and the authorities realised it would be to their detriment to keep the restrictio ns in place.”
The restrictions were imposed in September 1995 to stem the flow of Palestinians deported by Libya in protest against the signing of the Oslo peace accords by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Libyan Leader Colonel Moammar Gaddafi expelled 30,000 Pale stinian residents that year. As a result, Lebanon stipulated that Palestinians would have to apply for a visa before entering the country. This included the estimated 350,000 refugees residing in Lebanon. It was, however, almost impossible for Palestinian s living in Lebanon to be granted visas from Lebanese embassies abroad.
Mohammed Yassin, an official of the Palestinian Liberation Front In Lebanon, said the new leadership recognised peace was not around the corner and decided to try to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians. “The previous government thought the p eace process was reaching its final stage and the fate of millions of refugees, including those living in Lebanon, would be resolved. They kept a tight grip on the Palestinians to ensure they wouldn’t want to stay,” Yassin told the Weekly.
“The Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians are trying to improve the relations between them, in an attempt to face the regional challenges created by the US and Israel,” Abu Fadi Raji, an official of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) i n Lebanon told the Weekly. “Further moves would help improve relations between the Palestinians and their host country. If the Palestinians were granted their civil and social rights, they would be able to play an important role in reviving the Lebanese e conomy,” he said.
A Palestinian source told the Weekly… that after the announcement to ease the travel restriction, the ban on bringing construction material into the Rachidiyeh refugee camp in Tyre was lifted, and the number of soldiers posted around camps in Sidon w as reduced. Construction work inside the camps was previously restricted and regulated by the government.
There are almost 350,000 registered Palestinians in Lebanon who are denied basic government services, such as health and education, and are banned from 75 professions. As a result, they mainly find work in the low-paid sectors. Sources said the lifting of the travel restrictions may be followed by an easing of limitations imposed on the Palestinian workforce.
The Lebanese government has long argued that granting the Palestinians civil and social rights would encourage them to stay in the country. But the Palestinians maintain that they just want to have a decent lifestyle and have no intention of resettling on Lebanese soil. There is a political consensus to deny the Palestinians the right to settle in Lebanon permanently. This largely stems from the fact that most of the Palestinians are Sunni Muslims and the country’s Christians have long feared a shift…
Constituting the Crown Prince
by Lola KeilaniHeading
“Abdullah takes over as Crown Prince… efforts to emphasise that Jordan’s future king is fit for the job.”
Quotes from Text
“Jordadnains consoled themselves with the fact that Hussein… was 18 yearts old when he was sworn in as king.”
[IMRA: Isn’t 36 a reasonable age for a new king? On the other hand, there were no real alternatives when Hussein became king.]
“… many predicted a short life span for the Jordanian state because of its lack of natural resources and politcal turmoil… characteristic of the Middle East.” [IMRA: But for much of Hussein’s reign these countries have been very stable. Also, the Israeli concern for Jordanian stability was crucial at times.]
“… Prince Abdullah has spent most of his 36 years close to his father learning the intricacies of political decision-making”
[IMRA: Abdullah spent years studying abroad and in Jordan he was deeply involved in a military career.]
“Palestinians… dislike the former Crown Prince whom they blame for ‘Jordanising’ decision making following the 1970 civil war.”
[IMRA: But distinguishing Jordan as Hashemite not “Palestinian” has been a fundamental concept of King Hussein’s. Is there any expectation of a deJordanization process in facvor of a Palestinization process that would confirm the now narrowly held Israeli claim that Jordan is Palestine?]
“… Abdullah managed to rally support from a number of Gulf States.”
[IMRA: While the general attitude is that with King Hussein out, Jordan will lose leverage in international affairs.]
King Hussein’s appointment… of his eldest son, Abdullah, as Jordan’s new crown prince to “comfort worried Jordanians on the future of their country”, did not completely allay concerns about the succession. Nevertheless, Jordanians consoled themselves with the fact that Hussein, the world’s longest-serving head of state, was hi mself only 18-years-old when he was sworn in as king.
“During this time, many predicted a short life span for the Jordanian state because of its lack of natural resources and the political turmoil that is so characteristic of the Middle East region. But Jordan, guided by the young king, defied these predictions and has survived,” said one political observer. “I expect nothing less from the future King Abdullah,” he added.
Some Jordanians are concerned that 36-year-old Abdullah lacks political expertise and international acumen in contrast to Hassan who has been crown prince for the last 34 years.
Others are more optimistic about the prospect of Abdullah as king. “Had the political skills of Prince Hussein been tested when he assumed the throne at the age of 18?” asked a prominent political analyst. “We mustn’t forget that Prince Abdullah has spent most of his 36 years close to his father learning the intricacies of po litical decision-making from an international statesman of legendary standing.”
Newspaper editorials and columnists are calling on Jordanians to stand united at this critical juncture, arguing that now that the succession has been decided the future of the kingdom is not up for debate.
“It is essential to close the file on the issue of succession for such talk will create internal chaos,” said the editorial of the daily Al-Dustour.
Taher Edwan, editor-in-chief of the independent Al-Arab Al-Yawm newspaper said, “In order to maintain Jordan’s stability and its political gains, national unity should prevail.”
According to political observers, the new crown prince is supported by the Jordanian army which wields considerable influence.
“The crown prince is a major-general in the army and is very much supported by both the powerful intelligence and public security establishments,” said Saleh Qalab from Al-Arab Al-Yawm. Abdullah is also backed by the Jordanian east-bank tribes, whose hundreds of tribal sheikhs converged on the palace to pledge allegiance. This coincided with a drastic deterioration in the king’s medical condition.
“The prince has established very good relations with officers, most of whom come from Jordanian tribes. He not only knows them by name but also visits them in their regions,” said one army officer.
In addition, the majority of Jordanians of Palestinian origin welcomed the king’s decision. Palestinians, for reasons dating back to the fighting between Palestinians and the Jordanian army in 1970, were hostile towards former Crown Prince Hassan. Abdullah, on the other hand, is related by marriage to a well-known Palestinia n family in Tulkarem, the Yassins.
“Palestinians support him because they dislike the former crown prince, whom they blame for ‘Jordanising’ decision-making following the 1970s civil war,” said one political observer.
On the regional front, Prince Abdullah managed to rally support from a number of Gulf states. The United Arab Emirates, on the eve of Abdullah’s appointment, announced that it is considering depositing funds at the Central Bank of Jordan to raise hard currency reserves. Saudi Arabia, through Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, expressed support for the new crown prince.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s unscheduled visit to Jordan to congratulate the new crown prince in person ended speculations that the US would favour the younger Prince Hamzeh, son of the American-born Queen Nour.
Albright said that she and the prince discussed “the issues he is facing in Jordan”, understood to mean economic difficulties and potential threats from Syria and Iraq.
Meanwhile, the official pictures of the former crown prince have been removed from Amman’s streets and public buildings; a million new pictures of Prince Abdullah are being printed.
Dr. Joseph Lerner,
Co-Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645