Syria continues to headline Arab news on Wednesday, with exiled opposition forces discussing unification and a leading defector claiming that his return to Syria is simply a matter of time.

“Armed opposition creates joint leadership to manage the battles,” reads the headline of the London-based daily Al-Hayat. Abdul Basit Sida, head of the opposition Syrian National Council, tells Al-Hayat that the transitional government currently being formed by his organization will not include elements of Assad’s regime.

“We told [international envoy to Syria Lakhdar] Brahimi that discussing any unity government which would include Bashar Assad’s men is meaningless. We do not say this out of vengeance,” Sida said, adding that he favored Brahimi’s initiative of a ceasefire during Eid Al-Adha.

Meanwhile, Syrian defector and former Assad confidant Manaf Tlass tells Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat that he will soon return to Syria “to liberate his country from this regime,” but only “when things are ready.”

“The US elections will not change the situation in Syria,” writes US-based Al-Hayat columnist Randa Taqi A-Din, claiming that Israel is currently the primary concern of the American presidential candidates, and that the US actually has an interest in the Syrian bloodshed continuing.

‘Syria is weakening the powers opposed to the Jewish state, such as Hezbollah and Iran’

“Whoever is elected as US president, be it Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, his foreign policy priority will be Israel’s interest,” writes Taqi A-Din.

“There is no doubt that although the Syrian army, the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah all overpower the Syrian opposition with their advanced equipment (the Iranian-made drone, for instance, is beyond the reach of the Syrian revolutionaries) the fighting on the ground in Syria is weakening the powers opposed to the Jewish state, such as Hezbollah and Iran.”

Abbas’s threats ring hollow

The lead editorial of the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reads: “Abbas’s threats scare no one.”

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is shouting in the wilderness and no one is listening to his shouts, because the man has become politically isolated in his Ramallah office. Many of his friends from east and west have abandoned him, and the level of popular protests bemoaning the cost of living and the delay in salaries has intensified.

“President Abbas has threatened more than once to dismantle the PA, until this threat has become void of all content. Moreover, he is not taken seriously by anyone in Palestine or the world. So let Abbas go to negotiations or anywhere else. That’s his business. But he should realize that he carries no mandate from the Palestinian people to speak on its behalf — not to mention signing an agreement with the Israelis.

“The severity of Abbas’s situation lies in the fact that he is a president whose term ended two years ago, along with all the institutions he leads, such as the [Palestinian] National Council, the PLO Executive Council and the Legislative Council. Nevertheless, he continues to insist that he is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people vested with the mandate to sit at the negotiating table and sign a peace treaty with Israel.”

Soccer march between Libya and Algeria turns ugly

The qualifying matches for the African cup brought the national teams of Algeria and Libya to the soccer field, only to turn into a diplomatic incident, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports in its main headline Wednesday.

Libyan fans were outraged by a number of Algerian fans who arrived at the game dressed as deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

Following the rematch this week, the Algerian Embassy in Tripoli was attacked and the the Algerian flag was burned by Libyan fans, incidents the Libyan foreign minister was forced to apologize for.

Libyan fans were outraged at a number of Algerian fans who arrived at the game dressed as deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Lebanese FM reprimanded for pro-Hezbollah statement

Al-Hayat reports Wednesday that Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour was reprimanded by Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Suleiman following statements he made this week, in which he said that Lebanon assumes responsibility for the drone sent by Hezbollah over Israel.

Mansour was told by his government’s leaders that “a position of this kind must be taken in consultation and not individually, considering the ramifications,” Al-Hayat reported, adding that much international pressure was exerted on Lebanon following the drone mission.

Mansour was forced to send a letter of clarification to the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, which originally published his statement, claiming that his words were taken out of context and that he never said that the drone mission did not contravene UN Security Council Resolution 1701.