As lambs are slaughtered, Geneva lies ahead
Arabic media review

As lambs are slaughtered, Geneva lies ahead

Assad and his opposition both place preconditions for attending a diplomatic summit scheduled for next month

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, in London, October 14, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, in London, October 14, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

As Muslims celebrate the first day of Eid Al-Adha with the ritual slaughter of lambs, Arab media is preoccupied on Tuesday with whether the Syrian opposition will attend a diplomatic summit in Geneva scheduled for late November.

“International pressure on the Syrian opposition to attend ‘Geneva 2,'” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring a photo of US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking to international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Al-Ibrahimi in London on Monday.

“Amid doubts as to whether the ‘Geneva 2’ summit, geared at finding a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis and planned for mid-November, will ever see the light of day, the Syrian opposition is facing pressure from a number of states to attend the conference,” reads the article, noting that the Free Syrian Army intends to boycott Geneva 2 along with the Syrian National Council.

“Reports that ‘Geneva 2’ will take place on November 22,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring the photo of a car bomb shortly after its explosion in a village near Idlib in northern Syrian Monday.

Qatari-based news channel Al-Jazeera reports that the Syrian National Coalition is refusing to participate in Geneva 2 unless it is given assurances regarding the establishment of a transitional government excluding Bashar Assad.

In a TV report, the channel juxtaposes Assad’s preconditions for participation in Geneva 2 — namely, democratic elections and halting the Western support for “terror groups” — with the demands of the opposition, namely replacing Assad.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a London-based newspaper focusing on Palestinian issues, dedicates its editorial on Tuesday to the Palestinians living under siege in refugee camps in Syria. All of the diplomatic appeals by Fatah and the PA to the Assad regime to leave the camps out of the civil war raging in Syria have failed, claims the article.

“The tragedy of Palestinian refugee camps in Syria is not limited to Yarmouk refugee camp. In recent days, we have witnessed the killing and injury of dozens in the Daraa refugee camp in southern Syria. Out of 510,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, 250,000 were forced to flee their camps to other locations in Syria. Tens of thousands succeeded in emigrating once again.”

“While Syrians may enter Turkey without a visa and may enter refugee camps in Jordan, Palestinians are banned from doing so. Those who managed to flee to Lebanon join overcrowded refugee camps which suffer from a severe lack of infrastructure and basic medical supplies.”

“Despite the grief caused by the situation of the [Palestinian] camps in Syria, we cannot forget that Syria itself has become like Palestinian refugee camps. Just as Syrians and Palestinians lived together in Yarmouk and other camps, so today do they suffer hunger and deprivation together.”

What does Hamas want to do in Gaza?

“What did Hamas want from the Gaza Strip?” wonders Palestinian columnist Majed Kayali in an op-ed published in Al-Hayat Tuesday, condemning Hamas’s takeover of Gaza six years ago “unilaterally and by force.”

“What did it gain by this? For instance, did it want to turn [Gaza] into a launching pad to liberate Palestine or at least continue the armed struggle and make Israel bleed? Or did it want to implement the model of an ‘Islamic’ state there, or merely a state where it may rule as a faction? Did it wish to use the Strip as a means of strengthening its legitimacy and leadership role within the framework of the Palestinian national movement at the expense of its rival Fatah?”

“Listening to speeches by Hamas leaders over the past few years, it is clear that Hamas wanted all of the above, meaning it did not define what exactly it wants. In reality, it did not carefully consider the situation in the Strip, and the limits of its power following Israel’s withdrawal in 2005… Hamas replaced possibilities with wishes, the balance of power with illusions. This is a disease which all Palestinian factions suffered from since their inception, not only Hamas.” 

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