Russian and American leaders are making waves in the Arab press for their renewed vows to resolve the civil war that has engulfed Syria and left some 70,000 people dead thus far.
“Moscow hosts Khatib and Moallem,” reads the main headline in the Saudi-owned London-based A-Sharq al-Awsat. According to the report, deputy Russian foreign minister, and special envoy to the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov has invited Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib to Moscow for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on ways to resolve the Syrian crisis in the coming weeks.
Apparently the Russians — historically the strongest backers of the teetering regime of Bashar Assad — are becoming resigned to the reality that the ruling Ba’ath government’s days in power are numbered and are trying to establish ties with opposition leaders in an attempt to exert influence.
The pan-Arab media channel Al-Arabiya notes that incoming US Secretary of State John Kerry, after a meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Washington, DC, has indicated he has “ideas” on how to end the Syrian crisis as well. He expressed confidence that he can convince Assad to step down from power through a negotiated solution with the Syrian opposition and with the help of Russia.
“A lack of a solution would result in an explosion of the state from the inside,” Kerry said. “That would be a danger to everyone and would carry with it the worst kind of results.”
‘A lack of a solution would result in an explosion of the state from the inside’
The Americans are under substantial pressure to intervene in a more active manner by the Jordanian government, which is terrified of a Syrian tumult destabilizing their country. Over 330,000 Syrian refugees have already taken safe haven in the Hashemite Kingdom, with 2,000-3,000 more refugees crossing over every night. King Abdullah II of Jordan is reportedly planning a trip to Moscow soon to discuss these issues with Russian mediators as well.
The Jordanians, however, are not the only regional players actively taking measures to stop the civil war. The London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that the representatives of the Syrian opposition have officially been granted their first diplomatic embassy by Qatar.
In a statement released by the Syrian National Council yesterday, Qatar — which recognizes the Syrian National Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people — “has decided to hand over the Syrian Embassy building in Doha to Mr. Nizar Aharaki after his appointment as the ambassador of the Syrian National Coalition and the Syrian opposition to Qatar.”
The statement emphasized that Aharaki and his two associates will be considered “formal diplomatic personalities” and that “Qatar’s decision connotes a high level of importance because Qatar is at the forefront of countries that have recognized the National Coalition.” It is noteworthy that both Britain and France have recognized the Syrian National Coalition as the representatives of the Syrian people, but have not handed over the Syrian embassies to the group.
‘Qatar’s decision connotes a high level of importance because Qatar is at the forefront of countries that have recognized the National Coalition’
People in Lebanon are also taking steps to topple the Assad regime sooner rather than later. The Cairo-based Al-Masry al-Youm covers a breaking story about Lebanese protesters physically blocking 30 trucks, carrying shipments of fuel, from crossing the Syrian border. The protesters allege that the shipments, which also included diesel engines, military equipment, and trucks, were destined for the Syrian military.
Due to international boycotts on Syria’s ports, the Syrian regime is reliant on shipments from its Lebanese neighbor. It was reported that a number of Lebanese parliamentarians joined in on the blockage as well. It remains unclear if the shipments have received clearance to pass through.
Report: Hezbollah planning devastating attacks in next war
The London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi devotes substantial coverage to an analysis by Yedioth Ahronoth’s military affairs analyst Ron Ben-Yishai on Hezbollah’s preparations for its next war with Israel.
“In the plan prepared by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, military strikes will destroy the city of Tel Aviv and its environs and incursions by special Hezbollah units will take over northern areas of the Jewish state, which will then free the Galilee,” the report says.
‘Military strikes will destroy the city of Tel Aviv and its environs and incursions by special Hezbollah units will take over northern areas of the Jewish state, which will then free the Galilee’
According to the paper’s reading of Ben-Yishai, Hezbollah’s plan will be carried out in three phases: destroy Tel Aviv and the whole Gush Dan area; draw the Israeli army into Lebanese territory and break the IDF soldiers’ will to fight; and send Hezbollah special forces units into northern Israel on missions to psychologically unnerve the local Israeli population.
It is still unclear whether the European Union will declare Hezbollah a terror organization in light of the Bulgarian government’s decision to blame the Shiite militant group for the July 2012 attack in Burgas. Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor has called on the EU to unequivocally cut ties with Hezbollah over its terrorism and calls for genocide against the Jewish people.