Le Monde (France)
French daily Le Monde says North Africans are generally indifferent about the Union for the Mediterranean sponsored by President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Those who do care are far more preoccupied with the hope that the Union will provide employment or visa benefits than about pollution and transport links.
Le Monde’s editorial points out that the Tunisian president Zin El-Abidine Ben Ali is the only regional leader to have bubbled with enthusiasm for the project from the beginning, although Morocco has also been supportive.
The newspaper warns that other members like Israel and Syria are more concerned with their own interests than sharing a common vision for the Union.
Sunday Herald (Scotland)
For Scotland's Sunday Herald, Sarkozy's much-vaunted Union has already been dubbed France’s club med. Yet, while critics suggest it’s far too elephantine and unfocused to achieve anything positive, the fact that it has enabled a meeting between Israel and Syria is progress of sorts, argues the paper. Still, it will take a miracle for the two leaders Ehud OImert and Bashar al-Assad to shake hands.
Much will depend on the French input, says the Sunday Herald… and if the Union fails to do anything concrete and dissolves merely into a talking shop, the blame will be placed on the shoulders of ‘the increasingly Gaullist French President.”
Al-Hayat, the main Pan-Arab daily, says that Sarkozy is asking too much of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The French president may have eased Syria’s diplomatic isolation, but hopes of renewing direct negotiations between Israel and Syria as well as mediating with Iran on its nuclear programme will prove over-ambitious, says Al-Hayat.
The New York Times (US)
The New York Times says that the Bush administration is considering withdrawing additional combat forces from Iraq in September. But troops could well be redeployed to Afghanistan, where forces are being stretched by the escalating insurgency. In May and June, more American and allied troops died in Afghanistan than in Iraq.
The New York Times says that any troop reductions could “blur the sharp differences between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.” It adds that the security situation has “improved vastly” with violence and attacks on American-led forces dropping to the lowest levels since early 2004.
Meanwhile the Pentagon has said that commanders are calling for up to 10,000 more troops in Afghanistan to boost the 32,000-strong force already stationed there.
The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
"Expat excess in Dubai"
Brits don’t have the best reputation abroad…this time it’s the behavior of the expat community in Dubai that has come under fire.
Despite a dressing down by the Emirates rulers last week after a British woman was caught during a tryst on a beach, the Sunday Telegraph says expat excess in Dubai has continued unabated.
The woman could face considerable time behind bars if the authorities decide to use her as an example to send out a message on morality. While all the expats interviewed in this article are unanimous in condemning her behavior in a Muslim country, it is clear that what is viewed as acceptable behavior differs greatly between the guest workers who dominate Dubai and the indigenous Muslim population.
Dubai is known as the Middle East’s answer to Hong Kong and combines a hybrid of liberal and illiberal rules. Drinking alcohol is tolerated, but anyone drunk in public will be arrested and those caught using drugs face a lengthy prison sentence.