Assad as confident as ever
Arabic media review

Assad as confident as ever

Tunisian PM fails to form technocrat government and Iran's Supreme Leader meets reformists

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

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, right, is pictured with Ennahda party leader Rached El Ghannouchi at the opening of a meeting with representatives of Tunisian political parties in Carthage, outside Tunis, in February 2013. (photo credit: AP/Hassene Dridi)
Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, right, is pictured with Ennahda party leader Rached El Ghannouchi at the opening of a meeting with representatives of Tunisian political parties in Carthage, outside Tunis, in February 2013. (photo credit: AP/Hassene Dridi)

The failure of Tunisia’s prime minister to form a new technocrat government and a rare meeting between Iran’s Supreme Leader and opposition figures dominate Arab news on Tuesday.

“Jabali: My initiative has failed and I will discuss the next step with the president,” reads the top headline of A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned London-based daily.

Jabali admitted on Monday that his solution for the political crisis in Tunisia following the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid has failed to gain popularity among his country’s political players.

A-Sharq Al-Awsat predicts that Jabali will soon tender his resignation to President Moncef Marzouki, but also that he will be reappointed by him to head the next government.

Al-Hayat, a liberal daily based in London, reports that the next Tunisian government will likely be a broad coalition government, with key portfolios held by independents.

The daily reports that both the ruling Ennahda party and the opposition parties have become more flexible in their wish to reach a formula which will resemble a compromise between a purely technocrat and and a purely political government.

A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Amal Moussa claims that Jabali’s failure to form a technocrat government within 24 hours as he originally promised symbolizes a deep flaw in the country’s leadership skills.

“The political conduct of the ruling troika effectively reflects its weakness in governance and understanding of its mechanisms, especially with regards to decision-making,” writes Moussa. “How can a [political] elite which has proven its inability to execute a cabinet reshuffle solve difficult problems such as unemployment, poverty, development and a lack of infrastructure?”

“Many of those who govern Tunisia today have seriously proven their lack of concern for the problems of Tunisians and for those who were martyred or lost precious limbs [during the revolution].”

Meanwhile, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports the death of one man and the injury of 20 others on Monday in tribal clashes in southern Tunisia during a land dispute.

The channel reports that weapons have flowed into southern Tunisia since the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.

Syrian human rights breaches, rapprochement with Jordan

Al-Hayat leads its front page news with a report that the UN Human Rights Council will release a secret list of units and individuals in Syria responsible for crimes against humanity and human rights violations.

The photo accompanying the story is of a Free Syrian Army fighter holding a brand new mortar shell manufactured in a milk factory in the city of Aleppo.

An inquiry commission set up by to the council accused both government and opposition forces of targeting civilians during warfare.

Meanwhile, Bassam Badarin, the Jordan correspondent of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports on rapprochement between Jordan and the Assad regime, reflected in a visit by members of Jordan’s civil society to Assad’s presidential palace last week.

According to Badarin, Assad told the visiting delegation that he has no intention of resigning and in fact plans on running for president again in 2014.

“Observers report total quiet on the Jordanian-Syrian border and coordination on the Jordanian delegation to Damascus, preceded by intelligence cooperation which has been cut for two years. The cooperation focuses on targeting the jihadist Nusra Front,” reports Badarin, quoting Jordanian Salafi political activist Muhammad Khalaf Al-Hadid.

Tareq Homayed, former editor-in-chief of A-Sharq Al-Awsat, claims in an op-ed Tuesday that Assad’s self-confidence stems not from the reality on the ground but from the confused messages emanating from Washington.

“Every morning, and every minute, Assad reads the White House publications and everything President Obama says or does not say. Assad is concerned only with the question of whether Obama wants to act on the Syrian crisis or not,” writes Homayed.

“Does the Obama administration realize this? Is there anyone who can diplomatically clarify this to the American president?”

Khaminei meets Iranian oppositionists

Arab media reports on a “rare” meeting between Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and members of Iran’s opposition in the lead-up to the country’s general elections in June.

Al-Hayat reports that during the past few days Khamenei met with reformist leaders including former MP Majid Ansari, former industry minister Ishaq Jehankiri and former interior minister Abdul Wahid Moussawi Lari.

“Sources believe that the very willingness of the supreme leader to meet reformist personalities indicates that the Iranian leadership wants to demonstrate that the domestic situation is improving, to gain the widest participation in the elections,” writes the daily.

This is believed to be the Khamenei’s first meeting with reformist figures since the elections of 2009 and the Green Revolution that followed.   

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