Not only did a ceasefire brokered by international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi never materialize, but Arab media reports Tuesday that government airstrikes are now the worst they have been since the start of the crisis.
“Syria: 60 strikes as the ‘ceasefire’ ends,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, reporting that the air attacks on Monday were “the most violent since the start of the Syrian crisis,” according to observers. According to the daily, Brahimi called the violence in Syria “a real civil war,” during a visit to Moscow.
Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani responded to that estimate, claiming through news channel Al-Jazeera that what is happening in Syria is not a civil war but rather “a war of annihilation by Assad against his people.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat’s editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed refers in a Tuesday op-ed to Western news reports whereby Lebanon’s Hezbollah is preparing to abandon the alliance with Bashar Assad, having realized that they stand to “lose Syria” if they continue supporting him.
“I highly doubt this,” writes Homayed. “After the killing of nearly 35,000 Syrians at the hands of the Assad forces, solutions will be difficult and mending sectarian relations will be more difficult.”
In short, claims Homayed, Hezbollah has lost the Syrian street following its support for Assad, and will find it extremely difficult to regain it.
150 Syrian opposition members are meeting in Istanbul for a three day conference to discuss the transitional period following Assad’s ouster
“Damascus is under fire from air and car bombs,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat. A Syrian security quoted by the daily said that the airstrikes in the Damascus region were geared at uprooting terrorists who took refuge in these areas.
Meanwhile, 150 Syrian opposition members are meeting in Istanbul for a three-day conference to discuss the transitional period following Assad’s ouster. A participant told Al-Hayat that the conference will discuss the mechanism of controlling territories taken by the opposition, especially in the Aleppo and Idlib regions.
Egyptian daily Al-Ahram quotes Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying that Turkey will never negotiate with Bashar Assad who continued “to kill his people” during the holiday of Eid Al-Adha.
Two Iranian warships dock in Sudan — a message to Israel?
Arab media are intently reporting the arrival of two Iranian warships in Sudan Monday, tying the event to the alleged Israeli bombing of a weapons factory in the capital Khartoum last week.
Iranian state-run news agency IRNA reported that the helicopter carrier Kharik and the destroyer Shahid Najdi sailed to Sudan “bearing a message of peace to the neighboring countries and in order to defend the sailing routs from terrorism and naval piracy.”
The source added that the ships’ arrival was also part of ‘a verbal, media, and intelligence war between Iran and Israel’
An unnamed Iranian security official told Dubai-based news station Al-Arabiya that the move is related to the recent Israeli attack on the Yarmouk arms factory, despite Sudan’s denial that Iran was in any way involved in the factory.
The official told the station that “there are many developments in the Horn of Africa,” and that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are involved in these developments, after Israel twice bombed Iranian interests in the region.
In this regard, the official mentioned Israel’s targeting of a truck convoy headed for Gaza allegedly carrying Iranian arms.
The source added that the ships’ arrival was also part of “a verbal, media, and intelligence war between Iran and Israel.” He mentioned a recent statement by Iranian foreign minister Ahmad Vahidi, according to which Iran possessed advanced drones, technologically superior to the Ababil drone sent by Hezbollah over Israel, which was provided by Iran.
Egyptian Copts elect a new pope
Some 2,400 representatives of the Coptic church voted Monday for a new pope to replace Pope Shenouda III, who died in March.
Three candidates were chosen out of a total of five in a secret election in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. The pope will be elected through a draw carried out by a blindfolded child on Sunday.
A church official told A-Sharq Al-Awsat that believers are being asked to fast for three days starting Wednesday in order that “God help us find the shepherd to guide the church.”