The discovery of a new massacre in the Syrian town of Al-Qubeir shocks the Arab media Friday, leading the news in all major dailies.
“The Qubeir massacre: children’s bodies and the smell of human flesh,” reads the headline of Al-Hayat, quoting the testimonial of a citizen who entered the village after the assailants withdrew from it. The daily displays gory photos of massacred children wrapped in blood-stained blankets.
“The Qubeir massacre shocks the world. Annan: my plan was not implemented,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. The daily reports 87 victims in a village whose total population in 130, including 80 victims who were stabbed by knives. Both Al-Hayat and A-Sharq Al-Awsat report the defection of an Air Force Intelligence officer, Ibrahim Farzat, claiming his colleagues committed “crimes against humanity, rape and murder.”
‘The massacres reoccur specifically due to the absence of deterrence; since their perpetrators rely on the limited response of an international community that stops at condemnation.’
London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi is the only major Arab daily to convey the Syrian government’s version of the events, claiming that it is a “crime perpetrated by terrorists, with 9 victims.” The Syrian government aso denied media reports that UN observers were initially denied access to the village. But UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said Thursday that the observers were shot at when trying to approach the village, the daily reports.
Al-Hayat columnist Walid Shuqier argues that Syria continues to perpetrate crimes with impunity because it realizes the West’s unwillingness to intervene.
“If the Houla massacre of May 26 brought about a Western decision to retract ambassadors … this form of expressing anger is the maximum possible considering the lack of a unified, deterring, stance by the international community. The massacres reoccur specifically due to the absence of deterrence, since their perpetrators rely on the limited response of an international community that stops at condemnation,” writes Shaqir.
In a front-page editorial, Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, claims that the latest massacre brings his nightmare scenario – international intervention – one step closer.
“Yesterday’s massacre… came as the best gift to the Syrian and Arab elements who beckon foreign military intervention to topple the Syrian regime and repeat the Libyan scenario,” writes Atwan.
Egyptian parties agree on constitutional assembly composition
Twenty two Egyptian parties agreed Thursday morning, following a overnight meeting with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on a mechanism for constructing a new constitutional assembly, to take effect June 12.
Egyptian establishment daily Al-Ahram reports Friday that the assembly will include 39 parliament members, 10 youths, 15 legal experts and 11 public figures.
Quoting Egyptian television, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that President Mubarak will be moved from his prison infirmary to a military hospital “within hours” due to a sharp deterioration in his medical condition.
But Saudi-owned news channel Elaph claims, based on “knowledgeable sources,” that Mubarak’s health condition is “good.” The sources tell the site that Mubarak has started eating his meals regularly and there is no medical cause to transfer him to hospital.
In an ironic editorial referencing well-know Egyptian comedies, Al-Jazeera columnist Aref Hijawi mocks the candidacy of former Mubarak strongman and current presidential candidate Ahmad Shafiq.
“After the generals Naguib, Abd Al-Nasser Sadat and Mubarak, it is only natural – to complete the set – to include Maj. Gen. Ahmad Shafiq. He is the only one who can reassure the 19 millionaires who rule Egypt that some files will remain closed forever,” writes Hijawi.
‘After the generals Naguib, Abd Al-Naser Sadat and Mubarak, it is only natural – to complete the set – to include Major General Ahmad Shafiq. ‘
“They say Mursi will receive his orders from Muslim Brotherhood Guide Muhammad Badie,” Hijawi continues. “What’s wrong with that? at least he will not become a dictator. People always dreamed of a president who will rely on a real party with historic popularity, instead of a domineering president who creates a party for himself as means to stay in power.”
Surprise execution of Saddam’s personal aide
Arab media is widely covering the Iraqi announcement Thursday of the execution of Saddam Hussein’s personal aide Abd Hamid Hamoud, who Al-Hayat calls “Saddam’s secret silencer.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat calls the execution ‘surprising,’ reporting that Hamoud was executed following an indictment for mass murder.
Al-Hayat quotes local observers claiming that Hamoud’s execution was timed to settle a political debate in Iraq surrounding the sacking of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. The daily claims the execution will strengthen those in favor of deposing Maliki, but does not explain why that is so.
Two other former Saddam-era officials, deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz and defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad, both sentenced to death, still await their execution.