Preparing for a strike
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Arabic media review

Preparing for a strike

A limited Western attack on Syria will do more damage than good, claims one Arab columnist

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians pray during the funeral of a man killed from a shell in Arbeen town, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 (photo credit: AP)
In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians pray during the funeral of a man killed from a shell in Arbeen town, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 (photo credit: AP)

The diplomatic preparations of the West to strike Syria occupy the main headlines of Arabic dailies on Wednesday, with the spotlight on the US and President Barack Obama.

“Obama widens his strategy in Syria and Hollande hints at arming the opposition,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring an image of Turkish tanks on standby near the Syrian border.

“The West seemed more determined yesterday to act militarily against the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria following a chemical attack outside Damascus last month that cost the lives of hundreds,” reads the lead paragraph.

While the UK continues to try to issue a condemnation of Syria in the UN Security Council, the United States and a number of European countries are working on forming a coalition to carry out a limited strike against Syria, reports A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

“A ‘secret’ Israeli missile experiment raised concern regarding Syria,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which also quotes French President Francois Hollande as saying that France will not act alone on Syria if the US Congress votes down American intervention.

But Hollande is quoted by Arab daily Al-Hayat as saying that threats voiced by Bashar Assad against France in an interview with the daily Le Figaro only strengthened his conviction that Assad must be punished for the chemical attack he perpetrated.

Al-Hayat’s reporter in France Ranada Taqi A-Din lambastes Assad’s duplicity in criticizing France’s subordination to the United States while his regime remains completely subordinate to Iran, Russia and Hezbollah.

“Assad’s interview with Le Figaro once again underscores his personality, which denies reality,” writes Taqi A-Din. “Since the attack in Damascus that killed Syria’s security chiefs, headed by Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have taken over the fighting in Syria, because his regime is incapable of doing so. He has forced Hezbollah to send its best youth, still in their adolescent years, to fight in Syria for the regime against their parents’ will.”

Meanwhile, A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahman Rashed is optimistic about the prospects of Syria emerging from its crisis in the near future.

“The opposition activity in Syria and the Arab efforts accompanying it have attained a number of achievements. The question is, what does all this activity mean for better or worse? Syria has become a world issue, not an issue concerning Syrians alone. This responsibility prevents the regime from imposing a war or the solution it seeks. Geneva, the proposed peace conference, has become a good option given the recent military and political developments.”

Al-Hayat columnist Abdullah Iskandar, for his part, believes that merely striking Syria in a limited way will not reflect the severity of Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people.

“What is not needed, under any circumstance, is to incite the West to strike the Syrian regime. These kinds of strikes will only strengthen it if they will not topple him. While no one wants to get involved in a new costly war in Syria, we must not forget the nature of the crimes in Ghota near Damascus and the nature of the regime which perpetrated them. We must find a long-term response that will eliminate all forms of dictatorships which allow for such crimes,” writes Iskandar.

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