The Syrian revolution may not be a company, but it now has a board of trustees. The new body was inaugurated in Cairo Tuesday by Syrian oppositionist Haitham Maleh and is dominating the main headlines of Arabic language dailies Wednesday.
Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat leads its story by reporting the Syrian opposition’s respect for the fourth Geneva convention regarding the rights of prisoners of war. The deputy commander of the Free Syrian army tells the daily that his forces are in control of 90% of Aleppo’s environs and 60% of the city itself.
Maleh denies in an interview with the daily that the new board of trustees, which is to include 15 members and is headed by him, will create a rift within the ranks of the Syrian opposition. But a member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition organization in exile, tells A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the new board of trustees — described as a proto-government — is Maleh’s “personal initiative.”
Maleh himself likens the board of trustees to a government, while claiming that the Syrian National Council is more like a parliament which represents all factions of the Syrian opposition and oversees the performance of government.
London-based daily Al-Hayat is already critical of the new body, claiming in its headline that “the declaration of the ‘board of trustees’ deepens the opposition’s divide.” The daily describes Maleh’s antipathy towards the Syrian National Council, claiming that the new pseudo-government is an alternative to it. Maleh, 81, is described as a veteran Syrian oppositionist dating back to the days of former Syrian president Hafez Assad.
Maleh himself likens the board of trustees to a government, while claiming that the Syrian National Council is more like a parliament which represents all factions of the Syrian opposition and oversees the performance of government
Al-Jazeera quotes SNC head Abdul Baset Sieda as saying that the establishment of the new body “is a hasty move we wish did not happen,” adding that “the founding of this government in this manner weakens the opposition.”
Al-Hayat columnist Abdullah Iskandar bemoans the fragmentation of the Syrian opposition in an editorial Wednesday, especially at a time when the opposition should be more united than ever.
“The closer the regime comes to collapse, the more the opposition splinters and fragments,” writes Iskandar. “There is a substantial difference between political pluralism which is needed in any democratic alternative — reflecting the diversity of Syrian society and representing it — and the emergence of countless forms of political expression, each of which attempts to reach power.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahman Rashed derides pro-Assad Western commentators like Robert Fisk and Patrick Seale, but says that at this point in time their contribution to Assad’s war effort is negligible.
“Since the start of the crisis last year, the Syrian regime has tried to cotton to Western media in order to avoid a Libya scenario. The regime believed that it could, alone, oppress the internal revolution so long as the West refrained from military intervention.” The regime cannot survive forever though, claims Rashed, and is now fighting its last battles.
Egypt and its minorities
London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi leads its news Wednesday with what it calls an “unprecedented intervention” on the part of the United States in Egypt’s internal politics, by requesting that Egypt form a broad government that includes women and Copts. Both Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta advised Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on the matter during their visits to Cairo.
America should mind its own business, shouts back the daily’s editor-in-chief Abd Al-Bari Atwan in an op-ed titled “First respect American Muslims and then demand the rights of Copts.”
“American officials behave these days as though Egypt is under an American mandate, governed by an official of Uncle Sam who receives instructions from Washington. Their dictations continue relentlessly, provocatively intervening in Egypt’s internal affairs,” writes Atwan.
‘American officials behave these days as though Egypt is under an American mandate, governed by an official of Uncle Sam who receives instructions from Washington’
“The American administration still refuses to acknowledge the basic fact that Egypt experienced a glorious revolution, one of its motivations being the will to get rid of a dictatorial regime which was subordinate to the will of Washington for 40 years.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat, for its part, features a photo of Morsi and Panetta sitting side by side and smiling from ear to ear. The article claims that the Egyptian presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood are currently waging a battle against Egyptian media, with Morsi filing a lawsuit against two media outlets for “spreading lies against the president.”