A new TV interview by Syrian President Bashar Assad accompanies the discussion on Syrian refugees fleeing the capital Damascus Thursday.

“Collective displacement from Damascus and Ankara requires refugee camps inside Syria,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat. The daily focuses on a meeting at the Security Council Thursday to discuss Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. A Western diplomat speaking to Al-Hayat rules out the possibility of foreign intervention “like that in Kosovo,” but added that the possibility has not been taken off the table.

Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat cites Assad as saying in his televised interview that his forces “are advancing,” but also mentions the destruction of 10 helicopters on the ground in a government-controlled air force base.

A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Imad A-Din Adib says that in his interview, Assad seemed more detached from reality than ever before.

“If [the interview] really represented Bashar’s opinion, this undoubtedly means that the man lives on a different planet than we do,” writes Adib. “The worst thing that can happen to a military or political leader is to live in a false ‘delusion of victory,’ whereas the reality on the ground proves he suffers from “the truth of defeat.’”

‘When the president says that it is a ‘battle of wills,’ he acknowledges that the will of the other side, namely the revolution, is strong and cannot be easily broken’

The lead editorial in London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi calls Assad’s speech “pessimistic.”

“The Syrian president did not talk about a political solution, or — more accurately — did not present a clear vision for such a solution that would end the bloodshed. This is disappointing, both to Syrians and Arabs who hope for a quick end to this bloody impasse,” writes the editor.

“When the president says that it is a ‘battle of wills,’ he acknowledges that the will of the other side, namely the revolution, is strong and cannot be easily broken.”

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat columnist Zoheir Quseibati blames Iran for Syria’s intransigence.

“This is a global Iranian war using the blood of Arabs and Muslims,” writes Quseibati. “If the Lebanese examples are telling, every time Tehran places its finger in Lebanon’s foul waters — and it has many fingers — Muslims fought each other.”

Egyptian presidential candidate Shafiq targeted by the law

News that Ahmed Shafiq, a former front-runner for the Egyptian presidency, was put on Cairo airport’s watchlist and banned from leaving the country is making big headlines in Arab language news Thursday.

Shafiq’s case is being examined following a complaint filed by liberal parliament member Issam Sultan, for allowing the sons of deposed president Hosni Mubarak to unlawfully take over land in the Ismailia region

“Egypt: Ahmad Shafiq is legally pursued for enabling Mubarak’s sons to take over land,” reads the headline of Al-Hayat. A-Sharq Al-Awsat, more briefly, writes: “Egypt: Shafiq joins wanted list.”

Shafiq’s case is being examined following a complaint filed by liberal parliament member Issam Sultan that he allowed the sons of deposed president Hosni Mubarak to unlawfully take over land in the Ismailia region.

Independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm leads its news Thursday with another Egyptian official accused by the court of embezzlement, former Shoura Council (Egypt’s upper house) speaker Safwat Sharif. Egyptian judge Aasem Jawhari demanded that Sharif return 600 million Egyptian pounds ($98.3 million) of illicit gains received while in office.

Tunisian NGO appeals for polygamy

A Tunisian NGO, “The Wasati Association for Education and Reform” has called on the Tunisian government to allow polygamy, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports Thursday.

The modern Personal Status Law issued by former president Habib Bourguiba in 1956 prohibits polygamy in Tunisia, but the NGO’s director Adel Alami says that it is a “popular demand.”

A human rights lawyer, Radhiya Nasrawi, announced earlier this month that Tunisian law has done nothing to punish a member of the ruling En-Nahda party who has two wives, the station reports. Nasrawi said the politician — who she would not name — married a second woman while in exile and brought her with him to Tunisia.

Jordanian news sites go black in protest against law amendments

Hundreds of news sites in Jordan blackened their pages Wednesday in protest against proposed amendments to the publications law, that would subject websites to libel laws as in print media. News sites will not be allowed to feature talkbacks that are libelous or “do not relate to the subject of the article.”

Al-Hayat reports that Queen Noor, widow of the deceased King Hussein, tweeted on Wednesday in support of the Internet protest.