Superstorm Sandy occupies the main headlines in the Arab press Wednesday, surpassing the ongoing violence in Syria and the political instability in Lebanon.
“Sandy is a ‘huge disaster’ and scenes of a horror film,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring a photo of the shattered coastline of Atlantic City.
Responding to a flurry of Arabic tweets cursing the US and wishing destruction on Americans in the wake of the storm, Saudi Arabia’s top religious authority, grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal A-Sheikh, told Al-Hayat that such behavior is inappropriate.
“Generally castigating those who were harmed by the storm ‘Sandy’ is inappropriate, because there is a large Muslim group among them,” Aal- A-Sheikh said. “They should not be cursed, but rather we should pray for the empowerment of Muslims, and that God should help them be obedient.”
“‘Sandy’ drowns New York in water and darkness,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, which reports 33 fatalities and material damage estimated to reach $20 billion.
In a separate article, the daily reports on the financial damage caused to Saudi shipping lines to the US.
“Sandy’s intensity decreases, but its effects remain,” reads the headline of Qatari news station Al-Jazeera, while its Dubai-based competitor Al-Arabiya reports 101 fatalities across the US and Canada.
Palestinians involved in Syria violence
While the regime’s aerial bombing of the Syrian capital Damascus continues Tuesday using Russian MiG fighter jets, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports, Palestinians from the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus are increasingly involved in the fighting.
Al-Hayat dedicates an article to the widening scope of fighting within the camp, with members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, a Syria-based movement founded by Palestinian leader Ahmad Jibril, clashing with fighters from the opposition’s Free Syrian Army.
‘Unfortunately, those who follow the position of [Shiite] spiritual authorities on political issues will find that some of them do not intervene when a conflict arises with their religious institutions or [when developments] affect the atmosphere of political agreement between them and the ruling authorities’
According to the report, the Syrian army sent soldiers and tanks to the Yarmouk camp to reinforce the Palestinian fighters, while a spokesman for the Popular Front – General Command, Anwar Raja, accused parts of the Syrian opposition of “dragging the refugee camps into the internal Syrian crisis.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Adel Tarifi criticizes the spiritual leadership of the Shiite denomination for not taking a stand against the crimes of Bashar Assad.
“Unfortunately, those who follow the position of [Shiite] spiritual authorities on political issues will find that some of them do not intervene when a conflict arises with their religious institutions or [when developments] affect the atmosphere of political agreement between them and the ruling authorities.”
Lebanese opposition boycotts government
Following the assassination of Lebanese security official Wissam Hassan, political tension in Lebanon is at an all-time high. On Tuesday, the opposition March 14 alliance announced its decision to boycott the government of Najib Mikati, in which Hezbollah is a senior partner.
“March 14: Lebanon is in danger, and we will not yield,” reads the dramatic headline of Lebanon’s daily Al-Mustqbal, the opposition mouthpiece.
The opposition demands that the so-called “Hezbollah government” be immediately dismantled, and a “neutral salvation government” be created in its place.
Al-Hayat claims that Lebanon has entered a “large political crisis, open to all contingencies,” noting that the March 14 alliance has called for “civil resistance.”
Bibi’s trip to Paris
In an op-ed titled “Netanyahu’s visit in Paris,” Al-Hayat columnist Randa Taqi A-Din claims that international and regional situation could not be better for the Israeli prime minister.
“The three statelet solution; Gaza and a state in the West Bank alongside Israel, is about to materialize if things continue as they are,” writes Taqi A-Din.
With the Arab Middle East in political turmoil, she adds, “Netanyahu comes to Paris very pleased, with conditions all in his favor and no one to pressure him… President Hollande will meet a very contented prime minister of the Jewish state.”