Looming American military action on Syria heads the news in Arab media Sunday, with most dailies featuring photos of American battleships approaching the Syrian coast.
“American ships approach Syria ahead of Obama’s decision,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring a photo of UN High Representative for Disarmament Angela Kane arriving in Damascus on Saturday to hold talks with the Assad regime and urge it to allow inspectors into areas where chemical weapons were allegedly used.
The daily quotes a Jordanian military official as saying that in the coming days a number of chiefs of staff of such countries as the US, France and the United Kingdom will meet in Jordan to discuss military options for Syria.
“Washington studies the ‘Kosovo option’ to punish the regime,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, reporting that the high-ranking military powwow in Jordan will take place as early as Monday, and include Middle Eastern generals from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
With a headline reading “The Pentagon: We are prepared for a military option in Syria,” Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera begins its coverage by quoting US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel as saying on Sunday that the US is prepared to strike at Syria if President Barack Obama, as commander-in-chief, chooses that course of action. Hagel was speaking to press in Malaysia during a tour of Southeast Asia.
Are we on our way to Kosovo II or to Geneva II, wonders A-Sharq Al-Awsat commentator Tareq Homayed, referring to the alternative of diplomacy versus military action on Syria.
“Following the Ghouta massacre, there has emerged an effective change in world opinion, both political and in the media. Massive pressure is being exerted not only on the American president but also on Iran and Russia, which condemned the use of chemical weapons,” writes Homayed.
“The Ghouta crime can certainly not pass silently. If faith in Western intervention in Syria has been shaken as a result of the continuing procrastination, event indicate that we are headed towards ‘Kosovo II.’”
In a scathing op-ed, Al-Hayat columnist Hazem Saghieh juxtaposes the Assad regime in Syria with the new military regime in Egypt, describing them both as “regimes that will not go.”
“Sixty-one years of the July 23 era in Egypt and the 50 years of the Baath regime in Syria are not enough to turn the page on these two regimes. Before, the Iraqi Baath ruled for 35 years and Muammar Gaddafi ruled for 42 years; and were it not for external intervention they would continue to rule and bequeath their rule.
“Eventually, our world will rot under the weight of these belligerents who know no bounds and cannot be deterred. This is all taking place under our noses,” writes Saghieh.
Egypt to try Mubarak and Brotherhood leaders Sunday
The planned trial of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday features high in Arab media outlets.
“Egypt to try Mubarak and the Brotherhood on the same day,” reads the headline in A-Sharq Al-Awsat, reporting that the nightly curfew was shortened by two hours and that 2,000 high- and mid-ranking Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested over the past week.
Only later on Sunday did news break that the trials were postponed to late October.
Meanwhile, Al-Hayat reports that Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and his deputy Khairat Shater, as well as Brotherhood official Rashad Bayoumi, will be tried in absentia.
Quoting various legal experts, establishment daily Al-Ahram reports that Badie may face the death penalty for the 10 indictments leveled against him, including incitement, conspiring with foreign countries and throwing explosives at military barracks.
“The Brotherhood’s allies jump off the wagon,” reads the headline of independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. Khaled Sharif, a member of the Islamist Building and Development Party, tells the daily that his party is negotiating with the Interior Ministry to halt the government’s arrest campaign against Islamist leaders in return for the Islamists withdrawing their support from the Brotherhood and ceasing demonstrations.