Arab newspapers, which went to press before the announcement of results in the US presidential elections, on Wednesday focused on violence in Syria and political tension in the Gulf.
A meeting between Saudi King Abdullah and British Prime Minister David Cameron in the city of Jeddah Tuesday features high on the front pages of the London-based dailies Al-Hayat and A-Sharq Al-Awsat.
Like his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, who visited Saudi Arabia earlier this week, Cameron received from his Saudi host an honorary medal named after King Abdul Aziz.
According to Al-Hayat, the two leaders discussed “the Palestinian issue and the situation in Syria,” while A-Sharq Al-Awsat’s headline speaks more generally of “regional and international developments.”
Syrian planes fall from the sky
Syrian opposition forces reportedly downed a Syrian fighter jet on Tuesday, a fact widely reported by Arab media as violence in the country continues unabated.
“Fatalities, explosions and a downed jet in Syria,” reads the headline of Qatari news website Al-Jazeera. The site also reports that Great Britain will begin communicating with military commanders in the Syrian opposition in order to unite the opposition movement.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat leads its Syria coverage with a report that the regime is amassing its forces in the capital, Damascus. The daily features the photo of a woman carrying her young child in her arms, as she flees from the village of Houla near Homs for fear of government artillery bombardment.
The London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that Syria has changed the trajectories of its civil flights, diverting them from “hot” areas of fighting, fearing that opposition groups will try to down aircraft using Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
‘It is difficult to predict President Abbas’s next move. But what we can say is that he hesitates to take historical steps that may lead to confrontation with Israel and the US’
Sources in Syria’s civil aviation authority tell the daily that the flight from Latakiya to Damascus, which used to take 50 minutes, now lasts 70 as it skirts areas of fighting near Damascus.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mentioned the existence of over 50 of the American-made missiles in opposition hands, noting that the opposition has sanctioned their use against civil aircraft.
Meanwhile, Al-Hayat reports that Turkey will soon request from NATO the deployment of Patriot missiles along its border with Syria. An unnamed official in Turkey’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters that such a request was imminent.
Tareq Homayed, editor-in-chief of A-Sharq Al-Awsat, claims in an op-ed Wednesday that Assad has intentionally decided to ignite the border with Israel, in a desperate bid to export violence beyond Syria’s border.
“Assad realizes, no doubt, that mobilizing the Syrian-Israeli front is a last resort, after failing to crush the popular Syrian revolution,” writes Homayed.
“The regime has grown desperate and entered the stage of gambling and risk taking. It has begun by sending three tanks to the Syrian-Israeli border, and yesterday there was a shooting incident at the border.”
A humiliating week for Abbas
The lead editorial in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Wednesday claims that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has experienced “a humiliating week.”
The editor claims that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman “rewarded” Abbas’s moderate interview on Israeli television this week, in which he seemed to forgo the Palestinian right of return, by authorizing over 1,000 new housing units in the West Bank and threatening to dismantle the PA if it insisted on turning to the UN for recognition as a nonmember state.
Abbas will likely back down from turning to the UN later this month, the editor predicts.
‘Assad realizes, no doubt, that mobilizing the Syrian-Israeli front is a last resort after failing to crush the popular Syrian revolution’
“It is difficult to predict President Abbas’s next move. But what we can say is that he hesitates to take historical steps that may lead to confrontation with Israel and the US, like the decision to dismantle the PA and the announcement that the Oslo agreement — and by extension, the two-state solution — is dead.”
“The expiration date of the PA has passed and with it the leadership of President Abbas himself. It would be better for the Palestinian people that the occupied lands re-assume their status prior to the existence of the PA, and that the Palestinian people is given the freedom to fight the occupation with no intermediary or pressure or oppressor, such as the PA and its oppressive security forces.”