‘Sinai purification’ almost over
Arabic media review

‘Sinai purification’ almost over

The Kurds of Syria prepare for parliamentary elections, ahead of new regional government and constitution

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

Illustrative: The charred remains of an armored vehicle are loaded onto a truck after a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a police checkpoint in el-Arish, Egypt, Friday, July 12, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Muhammed Sabry)
Illustrative: The charred remains of an armored vehicle are loaded onto a truck after a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a police checkpoint in el-Arish, Egypt, Friday, July 12, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Muhammed Sabry)

Syria returns to Arabic-language headlines on Sunday, as government bombing intensifies in the capital Damascus and the city of Homs.

“Fatalities and continued bombing on neighborhoods around Damascus,” reads the headline of Qatari-based news channel Al-Jazeera, which reports at least 15 dead in artillery and mortar attacks on the Qaboun neighborhood of Damascus.

“Washington: Israeli attacks destroy Russian missiles in Latakia,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring an image of black smoke rising above a crusader fortress hit in a government airstrike. The article quotes three American experts who told CNN that a mysterious explosion over a week ago in Latakia was actually an Israeli airstrike aimed at destroying advanced Russian Yakhont missiles.  

A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned newspaper based in London, reports on its front page that preparations are underway for local elections in the Kurdish regions of Syria to elect members for a local parliament within three months. Shirzad Al-Yazidi, a spokesman for the People’s Council of West Kurdistan, told the daily that a provisional constitution will be drafted ahead of the elections and ratified by the elected parliament, which will also form a local government.

Five more gunmen killed in Sinai

The deteriorating security situation in Sinai continues to occupy the front pages of Arab media on Sunday.

Al-Jazeera reports heightened tension levels as the Egyptian army continues to destroy smuggling tunnels between the peninsula and the Gaza Strip, especially those used for the smuggling of fuel into Gaza. Sinai gunmen opened fire early Sunday morning on a number of police stations and on an electric station in northern Sinai.

“Army conducts widespread operations in Sinai: Palestinians among the dead and arrested,” reads the headline of Al-Hayat, featuring the photo of a charred army jeep being lifted by a crane after being hit by an anti-armor missile in the north Sinai city of el-Arish.

The daily, which last week reported the death of dozens of Hamas operatives in Sinai, reports again that “dozens of gunmen, including Palestinians, fell in the confrontations.”

A security source speaking to Al-Hayat put the exact number of fatalities on Saturday at five, claiming that the total number of dead in the latest round of fighting has reached 37 armed men, and 42 injured.

“The military puts its final touches on operation ‘purifying Sinai’,” reads the headline of independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, reporting that for the first time Apache helicopters flew over Sinai at a low altitude in order to better locate the “criminal elements.”

The aircraft dropped leaflets warning citizens against driving at night or driving in cars without license plates, the daily reports.

Establishment daily Al-Ahram, reporting on attacks against four army and police posts in Egyptian Rafah and el-Arish, quotes the denial of army spokesman Ahmad Ali that the office of naval traffic control was attacked by gunmen. Ali said that teenagers were merely playing with firecrackers near the office, which some misconstrued as an armed attack.

Focusing on the new government of Hazem el-Beblawi, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports in its top story Sunday that it will include 30 ministers in addition to two assistants to the prime minister (one for the economy, the other for security). A number of ministers serving in the Morsi government will maintain their portfolios in the new government, expected to be announced on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, has vowed to wage a “long war,” against the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, reports the daily.

Al-Masry Al-Youm columnist Samir Farid, referring to the Egyptian coup as “the June 30 revolution,” claims in an op-ed that it has ended the mix of religion and politics in Egypt for good.

“The demonstrations of the June 30 revolution meant, in short, that most of the Egyptian people believe there should be no politics in religion and no religion in politics. They are returning to the slogan of the 1919 revolution that ‘religion is for God and the homeland is for all.'”

“In order for there to be true national reconciliation, the supporters of political Islam — be they Brotherhood people, Salafis, or centrists — must recognize that this the deep meaning of June 30 in opposing the rule of the Brotherhood.”

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