‘Assad could fall at any moment,’ says Arab League head
Arabic media review

‘Assad could fall at any moment,’ says Arab League head

Egypt's top court goes on strike and a news station dedicates a report to pretty Israeli politicians

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

Illustrative photo of riot policemen standing guard in front of Egypt’s top court, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, December 3, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Nasser Nasser)
Illustrative photo of riot policemen standing guard in front of Egypt’s top court, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, December 3, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Nasser Nasser)

Syria and Egypt compete for the attention of Arab news outlets on Tuesday, with the secretary general of the Arab League expecting that Bashar Assad will fall “at any moment.”

Ending a trip to Turkey Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged differences with Ankara over the Syrian crisis, London-based daily Al-Hayat reports. Putin claimed that the deployment of Patriot missiles along the Syrian border will only add to regional tension.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi, an Arab nationalist daily based in London, focuses on the defection of Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi, noting an American warning to Syria against using chemical weapons against civilians.

Meanwhile, A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned daily, claims that “the world has begun to prepare for the collapse of the Syrian regime” on Monday, following statements by Arab League secretary general Nabil Al-Arabi in which he claimed that the Assad regime could fall “at any moment.”

The daily reports a bread crisis in Syria, claiming that in some areas of the country the price of bread has climbed tenfold, reaching $2.50. Some Syrian activists warned of hunger spreading in Aleppo. According to the activists, the shortage of bread stems from a lack of fuel for the ovens, government bombardment of areas where bakeries are located, and a flour shortage.

Al-Hayat columnist Yassin Al-Haj Saleh compares the dominance of Islamists in Syria and Egypt. In Syria, he argues in an op-ed, there is little chance of Islamists monopolizing the political scene as is the case in Egypt, as Syrians are more religiously diverse and secularized than their Egyptian counterparts.

But, he argues, the Syrian situation is also more complicated than the Egyptian.

“As the revolution approaches its 21st month, it has raised the level of Sunni self-consciousness (and religious self-consciousness in general), widening its social base and loading it with anger and extremism. The revolution also contains a significant armed element, in which the weight of Sunnis exceeds their demographic weight within Syria’s population,” writes Al-Haj Saleh.

“Egypt does not face the problems of weapons meeting religion. Everywhere nowadays, this has caused counterviolence against society and not toward governments alone.”

Egyptian judiciary issues ‘final warning’ to the president

Tension between the Egyptian judiciary — empowered by the country’s liberal political forces — and the government of Mohammed Morsi continues to mount Tuesday. Anti-government demonstrators are expected to march to Ittihadiyah palace, the seat of government Tuesday afternoon, and call for the complete abolishment of the president’s constitutional declaration and the new draft constitution under the banner of “last warning.”

“Egypt: The army is guarding the [presidential] palace, ahead of ‘the last warning,'” reads the headline of A-Sharq Al-Awsat, reporting that the military has deployed armored vehicles around the palace to prevent attacks on it as hundreds of thousands of protesters belonging to 18 political groups are expected to arrive in the vicinity Tuesday evening.

“Mark of shame,” reads the headline of independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, reporting that “for the first time in the history of the Egyptian judiciary” the high constitutional court has decided to suspend its activity in protest against the anti-court demonstrations which took place outside the building on Monday.

Eight independent Egyptian dailies suspended Tuesday’s edition in protest against the government.

‘Israel’s pretty female politicians’

Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya dedicates a story on its website to pretty female political candidates, prominently displaying Labor’s Merav Michaeli, Likud’s Tzipi Hotovely and Labor’s Nadia Hilu, in an article titled “Israel’s pretty women top the lists of Israeli elections.”

The report argues that young female politicians won high places in party lists, deposing older and more experienced male politicians.

According to the article, the biggest surprise was Merav Michaeli, who won the fifth place in Labor’s slate despite the best efforts of party leader Shelly Yachimovich to block her.

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