Arab media deals Monday not only with the rising death toll in Syria, describing a new massacre near Damascus, but also with the possible spillover to neighboring countries Iraq and Lebanon.
“Hundreds of bodies reveal the massacre; and Assad: ‘We remain regardless of the cost,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. The bodies were found in the town of Daraya, near Damascus. Quoting sources in the Free Syrian Army, the daily reports the appearance of Sukhoi-24 bombers for the first time, dropping bombs weighing half a ton on a village near the northern city of Idlib.
The article features a photo of Vice President Farouq Shara in a meeting with Iranian official Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security in the Consultative Assembly. Shara’s public appearance is intended to refute rumors of his defection to Jordan.
London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that a fragile ceasefire in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli has begun to unravel with the shooting of a two civilians, a man and a boy, as a result of sniper fire. The military is searching homes and confiscating weapons, while the city’s civil society organizations and workers’ unions are protesting the violence and calling for an immediate restoration of calm.
‘When the Iranian Assad will be driven out of Damascus, Tehran will return to its natural size, and Syria — with its religious and ethnic diversity — will return to its Arab environment following a long absence in the Persian sphere’
London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, underscoring the uncompromising position of the Syrian government, reports that the Iraqi military has increased its presence along the Syrian border following an incident where Syrian shells fell on an Iraqi village. The Iraqi army took over operations along the border from Iraq’s Border Police, closing the Bukamal border crossing where fighting has been raging between Syrian government and opposition forces. The daily also quotes Syrian officials blaming the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for involvement with “terrorism on behalf of Israel.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed comments on a statement by Iranian Revolutionary Guards official Hussein Ta’eb on Saturday that Iran will protect the Assad regime from collapse.
“No wonder Iran is supporting Assad, its foremost agent. With his fall, the Iranian project in the region will fall as well,” writes Homayed. He then paints the conflict in patently ethnic colors, dubbing the Syrian president “Iranian.”
“When the Iranian Assad will be driven out of Damascus, Tehran will return to its natural size, and Syria — with its religious and ethnic diversity — will return to its Arab environment following a long absence in the Persian sphere.”
Egypt and the Non-Aligned Movement Summit
A sense of discomfort accompanies the participation of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran later this week.
Egyptian establishment daily Al-Ahram reports that Iran is hoping to resume full diplomatic relations with Egypt, which have been cut since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The article mentions no Egyptian reaction to the Iranian aspirations, but Al-Quds Al-Arabi notes that Egypt rules out the possibility of real rapprochement, stressing that President Morsi will probably only spend a few hours on Iranian soil during his visit Wednesday.
Iran had celebrated the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat by naming a street after his killer, Khaled Islambouli.
It seems as if Morsi is being viewed by some as a representative of the Arab and Sunni world in Iran
Al-Quds Al-Arabi does note, however, that this will be the first visit of an Egyptian president to Iran in over 30 years. Iran’s support of the Syrian regime is another obstacle to resuming normal relations, the daily claims, since that position contradicts the stated goals of Egypt’s revolution, which Morsi subscribes to.
Meanwhile, it seems as if Morsi is being viewed by some as a representative of the Arab and Sunni world in Iran. Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reported Sunday that family members of incarcerated Ahwazi men — an Arab minority in southwest Iran — have appealed to Morsi to intercede on their behalf, claiming that hundreds of Ahwazi Arabs have been jailed on fictitious charges.
“Considering the importance of Egypt in the Arab and Muslim world, we turn to you in this letter, expressing the suffering of Ahwazi Arabs who suffer all forms of discrimination imposed by the Iranian regime,” wrote the families in an open letter.