Assad gives Homs a break
Arabic media review

Assad gives Homs a break

Hosni Mubarak doing well in hospital, follows news and talk shows

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

A Syrian Army soldier holds his automatic weapon as he takes up position behind sand barriers, in the central city of Homs, Syria, on February 4, 2014 (photo credit: AP/SANA)
A Syrian Army soldier holds his automatic weapon as he takes up position behind sand barriers, in the central city of Homs, Syria, on February 4, 2014 (photo credit: AP/SANA)

An agreement between the UN and the Syrian government to allow the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged city of Homs leads the headlines of Arab media on Friday.

“Humanitarian ceasefire to allow food into Homs after a siege of 600 days,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring a photo of Syrian children helping pitch their family’s tent in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

In a separate article, the pro-opposition daily reports the rebels have managed to take control of Aleppo’s central prison after besieging it for months. Ahrar A-Sham, an opposition group, announced it had freed 3,000 male prisoners and 800 female prisoners arrested by the Assad regime.

“A humanitarian ceasefire in Homs and clashes at the Aleppo prison,” reads the headline of London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, featuring the photo of a destroyed residential neighborhood in Homs on Thursday.

The daily begins by describing the battles on the ground, before moving to the diplomatic row between Russia and the UK surrounding the removal of chemical weapons from Syria. The head of the UN inspectors’ delegation to Syria debriefed the Security Council on Thursday, reporting that the Assad government is not removing the weapons at a satisfactory pace.

Al-Jazeera, a Qatari news channel with correspondents on the ground in Syria, reports that the first part of the Homs ceasefire is to begin on Friday. According to the agreement, a ceasefire is to last four days during which time women, children and the elderly may leave the city. Food is also to enter the city during this time.

“Kerry acknowledges increase in Assad’s power following chemical weapons agreement; Britons who have fought in Syria threaten London and Washington,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which dedicates a separate article to the “1,400 Saudis fighting in Syria, mostly youngsters.”

Mubarak doing fine, thank you

The visit of a Kuwaiti journalist to the military hospital where deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is currently confined — later defusing photos of the visit through Twitter — is causing a storm on Arab media.

The journalist, Fajr Al-Said, discussed the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein in 1990 with the aging Egyptian president, who told her how much he appreciated the position of Saudi King Fahd in support of Kuwait.

“My joy is indescribable at meeting president Mubarak and listening to the stories and secrets of this man of photographic memory,” Al-Said was quoted by Egyptian daily Al-Ahram as saying.

The most widely read story on Dubai news channel Al-Arabiya‘s website displays Al-Said sitting next to a smiling Mubarak in plain clothes and embracing the frail-looking man.

Mubarak is surprisingly aware of current events in Egypt, she tweeted, adding that he watches satellite channels and talk shows. Al-Said’s revelatory tweets were deleted from her account, however, with no explanation given, Al-Arabiya reports.

“The people want [Abdel-Fattah] el-Sissi, and the people’s will shall be implemented,” Mubarak said, when asked who will be Egypt’s next president. El-Sissi has not yet officially announced whether he will run for president.

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