Fierce battles between government and opposition forces on the streets of Damascus are getting major play in Arab dailies Monday.

Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports “one of the fiercest battles to date” in Damascus Sunday, and a new wave of senior officers’ defections which “increase Assad’s isolation.” The daily also conducts an interview with Syria’s new opposition military commander, Adnan Salu, who claims that opposition forces are in control of 60% of Syrian territory. He appeals NATO to bomb Assad’s presidential palace, claiming that Assad will only be toppled through military intervention.

Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera quotes Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi who says that the massacre in the village of Treimseh last Thursday is a “model of ethnic cleansing.” Arabi told the African Summit in Addis Ababa Sunday that the Arab League has been pushing for international intervention for over a year, calling for the application of Chapter Seven in the UN Security Council.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi columnist Abd Al-Rahim Qindil notes the Assad regime’s attempt to play up sectarian fears in Syria is part of a “divide and conquer” policy.

“The despicable regime is trying to prolong its term by claiming ‘either me or anarchy,’ igniting a fierce sectarian war. It tells its Allawite sect that it will be massacred if Bashar falls, trying to recruit the Syrian sects by drawing on fear for their future with the rise of Islamists,” writes Qindil.

‘The despicable regime is trying to prolong its term by claiming “either me or anarchy,” igniting a fierce sectarian war’

Meanwhile, the Assyrian Democratic Organization, one of the leading Christian groups in Syria, declared its support for the Syrian revolution and for regime change in a conference held in Sweden, Saudi-owned news site Elaph reports. The site displays a photo of an opposition rally in Stockholm, noting that Christians within Syria do not support the regime but prefer to keep quiet about it.

Morsi and his challenges

Many editorials Monday focus on Egypt’s political transformation. Egyptian intellectual Mamoun Fandy writes that Morsi’s ideology of independence is succumbing to Egypt’s economic reality, which dictates close cooperation — to the point of dependence — with oil-producing countries (namely Saudi Arabia) and water-rich countries (namely African Nile basin countries).

“Perhaps that is why President Morsi’s first visits are to Saudi Arabia, and to Ethiopia. These two visits may help draft a new realistic foreign policy driven by issue areas rather than the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, or any other ideology,” writes Fandy in A-Sharq Al-Awsat Monday.

‘The citizen, who created the revolution, remains in a perpetual state of anticipation for salvation. He observes the matters of the elite without taking much interest in what goes on under the surface’

The lead editorial in Al-Quds Al-Arabi deals with the main challenges facing President Morsi during the current detente in relations with the military. The editor claims that forming a new government to replace the transitional government of Kamal Ganzouri is the top priority at the moment.

Next, claims the editorial, Morsi must deal with four crucial issues: he must engage in dialogue with the liberal opposition; he must rebuild relations with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF); he must “push forward” the Egyptian economy; and, finally, he must reestablish Egypt’s defunct security apparatus.

Al-Hayat columnist Muhammad Salah bemoans the fact that Egyptian political factions resort to the courts to resolve political disputes.

“Why has the judiciary become a main player on the scene? The answer lies in the inability of other forces to decide the debate in their favor. They have invited in the judiciary as a main vehicle of change. Following every ruling, the reaction is either praise for the impartiality and honor of the  judiciary or demand to purge the judiciary and reconstruct it.”

“The citizen, who created the revolution, remains in a perpetual state of anticipation for salvation. He observes the matters of the elite without taking much interest in what goes on under the surface. All he cares about is emerging one day from under the line of poverty.”