Annan legitimizing Assad
Arabic media review

Annan legitimizing Assad

Syria's opposition is far from happy with the UN envoy's approach

Syrians chant anti-Assad slogans in front of the Syrian embassy during a protest in Amman, Jordan, on Friday. The Arabic banner reads, "I love my country and the Free Syrian Army." (photo credit: AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)
Syrians chant anti-Assad slogans in front of the Syrian embassy during a protest in Amman, Jordan, on Friday. The Arabic banner reads, "I love my country and the Free Syrian Army." (photo credit: AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Al-Jazeera online leads its Saturday morning edition with an analysis of reactions to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s report on the path to resolution in Syria.

Generally, the site suggests, the report of the UN/Arab League envoy – which includes “a call for the immediate cessation of the violence as well as entrance into direct negotiations between (President Bashar) Assad’s party and the opposition” – has been positively received internationally. Not so, however, by Syria’s opposition.

From the more proactive members of the international community – like the US and France — to the more cautious – like Russia and China – support of the essence of Annan’s report has been unequivocal.

Al-Jazeera quotes some of these international responses – including the enthusiasm from Russia’s ambassador to the UN, exalting in the reaffirmation of his country’s course of action on the Syrian matter: “We’re extremely happy that the security council elected to see the situation in Syria in a manner congruent with Russia’s take on things.”

It then segues into the disappointment on the part of the Syrian opposition’s leaders. To them, Al-Jazeera analyzes, the report signals a defeat in which Assad is granted legitimacy by the international community, and the horrid acts of violence committed against the members of the opposition go unpunished. Al-Jazeera follows up at length on the opposition’s present course of action and its dissimilarity from the approach delineated in Annan’s report – indicating a certain editorial discontent with the overarching consensus around Annan’s report.

In its description of the opposition’s latest moves, the paper focuses on two main channels: First, it reports on an upcoming summit organized by members of the opposition-affiliated Friends of Syria for April 1, in which foreign officials from 50 different countries will gather in Turkey to try and discuss possible approaches to “overthrow Assad” – not quite the spirit of cooperation and negotiation set out in Annan’s report. Second, interestingly enough, it reports on a delegation from the Syrian opposition that is scheduled to arrive in Moscow this coming week to meet with Russian officials; this will mark the first time in which diplomatic moves are made with the Russians, generally considered to be supporters of the present regime.

Gaza’s fuel crisis, as seen by Hamas

In a front page lead story, the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat covers the growing gas and electric crisis in Gaza. In an interview, Gaza’s Deputy Prime Minister, Muhammad Awad, gives his take on the recent blackouts and gas shortage at the Gaza Strip. “The move is clearly motivated by political reasons,” expounds Awad, blaming Israel. “The Israeli siege is resulting in a state of crisis in the Strip – in the realms of healthcare and nutrition.”

Al-Hayat also talks with the Palestinian Department of Agriculture, which reports shut-downs at Gaza’s flour mills emanating from the shortage of gas and power, leading to bread shortages in the Strip.

The Hamas response to the crisis? The organization’s Foreign Ministry is calling on the Palestinian people to engage in “peaceful demonstrations in protest at the energy crisis.”

This nonviolent move – possibly motivated by the present truce between Hamas and Israel – sounds like a moderation in the movement’s political rhetoric, which often gravitates towards the inflammatory and vitriolic. The paper concludes with the speculation that perhaps Hamas’s new-found measured reaction to the crisis indicates a shift in how it deals with Israel from now on.

An extensive review of B’Tselem

Saturday’s edition of Al-Quds, the East-Jerusalem daily, features an extensive story on a recent report from the offices of B’Tselem – the Israeli human-rights organization and watchdog. The paper essentially lets the data speak for itself. The main conclusion of the report – and the headline of the Al-Quds article – relates to “Israeli efforts to separate Jerusalem from the West Bank for the sake of settlements.”

The report specifies what it says are the exact number of new residential units in each and every East Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood — described as settlements – signifying a trend to “Judaize” the area in an effort to create a very distinct delineation between “Jewish settlement” in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

The paper, based on the report, asserts a trend in annexation of Palestinian lands for the sake of establishing new Jewish settlements, predicated upon the legal rationale that the areas are nationalized for the sake of either “military purposes” or “general purposes”, or constitute “state-owned land.”

At the very end of the article, the paper states that “the legal status of Israel in the occupied territories is one of temporary sovereignty,” and that “[Israel] is barred from making any changes within the boundaries of these occupied grounds.”

A-Sharq Al-Awsat examines energy drinks

The pan-Arab Saudi publication A-Sharq Al-Awsat dedicates its Saturday Health and Lifestyle section to energy drinks, examining their health benefits and risks. Their capacity to infuse the body with energy – be it through caffeine or through vitamin B – is neither here nor there, it writes dismissively.

The possible hazards, however, include “stomach ulcers and headaches” which typically stem from ingesting large concentrations of caffeine. The benefits? “An increased production of insulin,” which is facilitated through the high level of protein in a number of the drinks.


read more: