A religious opinion (fatwa) issued in Syria, saying that fighting alongside the Assad regime is a Muslim’s individual religious obligation, makes headlines in Arab newspapers on Tuesday.
An article in London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that according to the edict, issued by the High Council of Religious Ruling, fighting against the Assad forces is treasonous.
“Opposing our Arab Syrian Army and armed forces… is treason and participation in weakening its strength, which was built up and continues to stand prepared for the decisive battle against the Zionists and those who back them,” reads the fatwa.
The government-sanctioned fatwa followed opposition fatwas calling on Syrian Muslims to avoid joining the ranks of Assad’s military apparatus amid defections of reservists to Lebanon, Al-Hayat reports.
As opposed to Al-Hayat, which attempts to cover the story objectively, the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reveals its editorial slant on the fatwa.
“A flurry of condemnation follows a call by Syria’s mufti for ‘jihad’ alongside Assad,” reads the headline of the article, which features a large portrait of Syrian chief cleric Ahmad Hassoun.
One Damascus cleric tells the daily that the edict is a “travesty,” while Sheikh Abdul Jalil Said, who defected from his position as Hassoun’s spokesman, calls the fatwa “the faltering regime’s last card.”
The London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi examines the broader scope of religious edicts concerning the Arab Spring. The paper focuses on fatwas emanating from Saudi Arabia that have favored money donations to Syria over active participation in jihad against the Assad regime.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi ends with religious sermons by Egyptian clerics, which have come out in support of President Mohammed Morsi and have demonized his opposition using images from the Koran.
It is not only religious authorities who are being criticized for supporting the Assad regime on Tuesday. A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahman Rashed wonders whether Lebanon will be punished for calling on the Arab League to re-include Syria in its ranks.
“Whatever happened to [Lebanon's] policy of ‘non-intervention’ in which it espoused neutrality regarding the Syrian conflict? Why are battles being created against Saudi Arabia there, endangering the relationship?” writes Rashed.
“Lebanon is in the line of fire due to the war in neighboring Syria; its domestic atmosphere is tense because of the parliamentary elections which may not take place. These two reasons are enough to explain the fabrication of problems between Lebanon and the Gulf states… they are part of a psychological war being waged against that country [Lebanon], which has come to resemble a person condemned to death awaiting his execution.”
Iraqi al-Qaeda says it killed Syrian soldiers
An al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq has claimed responsibility for killing 48 Syrian soldiers in the western Iraqi province of Al-Anbar.
According to Al-Hayat, the attack raises fear of increasing collaboration between al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Nusra Front in Syria, since the claim of responsibility — published on jihadist websites — acknowledged the efforts of anti-Assad fighters inside Syria.
The Iraqi government asserts the existence of coordination between “the Iraqi Islamic state” and the Nusra Front in Syria, Al-Hayat reports.
Kurds look for a future ‘without Iraq’
A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports Tuesday on increasing indications of Kurdish intentions to politically secede from Iraq over differences in economic and political outlooks.
A Kurdish official told the daily that the establishment of a Kurdish state that will incorporate regions in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran is a “right.”
Falah Mustafa, the head of foreign relations for the Kurdish autonomous government in northern Iraq, said that the union with Iraq is not “a holy marriage that must last.”
According to the article in A-Sharq Al-Awsat, the younger generation of Kurds wishes to break away from Iraq and sets its sights on Turkey and Europe. Turkish and English are reportedly taught in prestigious Iraqi Kurdish schools even before Arabic.
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