Arab dailies are focusing Wednesday on the widening scope of fighting between government and opposition in Syria, with battles raging in the capital Damascus for the third day.
Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat tries to balance the diplomatic angle and the developments on the ground, juxtaposing a photo of British Foreign Secretary William Hague speaking to Syrian refugees in Jordan with one of a government tank driving through Damascus. Its headline reads “The Damascus battles widen; London: All options are open.”
The daily reports that the opposition’s Free Syrian Army is dramatically naming its operation “Damascus’s Volcano – Syria’s Earthquakes,” noting that the Assad regime is retorting by bombing Damascus neighborhoods from the air.
Al-Jazeera of Qatar, which as usual provides the most phenomenal footage from the ground, reports that the fighting has reached “the most sensitive locations for the regime” in the heart of Damascus.
Arab dailies also widely cite a statement by Israel’s chief of military intelligence Aviv Kochavi about Syria shifting its forces from the Golan Heights into Syria.
‘Why then must we condemn the Syrian intifada or fear it because some of its fighters are ‘Salafists’?’
“The opposition declares ‘the start of the liberation of Damascus,’” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat. Another daily based in London, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, reports that Damascus residents are leaving their homes in the capital, and even the headquarters of government mouthpiece daily Tishrin have been evacuated.
“Is the Syrian uprising ‘Sunni’?” asks A-Sarq Al-Awsat columnist Adel Tarifi. He notes that many observers are wary of supporting the Syrian uprising because of its overt sectarian nature, fearing that the Sunni majority — which comprises the bulk of the opposition — will become more religiously radicalized and take revenge on the Allawite minority currently ruling the country.
Tarifi argues that although Sunnis do constitute a numeric majority within the opposition, the Syrian uprising is no different from the other revolutions in the region. The stakes are just as high.
“Why then must we condemn the Syrian intifada or fear it because some of its fighters are ‘Salafists,’ while at the same time the revolution against Hosni Mubarak is lauded even though it brought Salafists to the parliament?” writes Tarifi.
‘Syrian expats have no right to represent the Syrian revolution because they did not create it’
Masoud Younis, writing for Al-Hayat, argues Wednesday that Syria’s real opposition is located inside the country and not in exile. Therefore, the concern about the opposition’s disunity is misplaced.
“Syrian expats have no right to represent the Syrian revolution because they did not create it. They do, however, have the right to support the revolution and aid it,” writes Younis. He says that Syrians in exile can contribute to the war effort in two significant ways: by fundraising for the opposition in the West and by spreading information on the progress of the revolution in Western media.
Morsi fights back
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi sent a harsh message to his critics Tuesday, saying he will pursue them through legal means.
Morsi has been subjected to rising criticism in Egypt for his decision to reinstate the parliament, which had been disbanded by the high constitutional court and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
“The president issues a sharp warning to the ‘exaggerators,” reads the headline of independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.
One harsh critic of Morsi, head of Egypt’s judges assembly Ahmad Zanad, tells A-Sharq Al-Awsat Wednesday that Morsi’s decision to reinstate the parliament constitutes “high treason which one cannot remain silent about.” Zanad denies that the judiciary is opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood or to Morsi personally, or loyal to SCAF.
Judge Zanad calls Morsi’s decision to reinstate the parliament ‘high treason which one cannot remain silent about’
Zanad harshly condemns the demonstrations that took place across the court last week in support of Morsi, saying that they are an “ugly, unprecedented phenomenon with no basis in religion, morals or law.” He says the purpose of the demonstrations is to intimidate judges.
Meanwhile, a new initiative by President Morsi to instate a direct connection between government and the citizenry seems to have gotten out of hand.
Morsi opened a complaints bureau to hear citizens’ grievances at the presidential palaces of Abdin and Qubba. So far, some 27,000 complaints have arrived at Abdin and 25,000 at Qubba, overwhelming the small staff of bureaucrats. Establishment daily Al-Ahram reports that a new telephone hotline has assisted in easing pressure at the palace, as has a system that distinguishes complaints from requests for employment or housing.