Syrian oppositionists escape death
Arabic media review

Syrian oppositionists escape death

Tunisia's prime minister receives a blow after his proposal for a technocrat government is shot down by party

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

A Free Syrian Army fighter walks past destroyed shops in Aleppo, Syria, on Friday, February 8, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Abdullah Al-Yassin)
A Free Syrian Army fighter walks past destroyed shops in Aleppo, Syria, on Friday, February 8, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Abdullah Al-Yassin)

An assassination attempt directed at leaders of Syria’s opposition features high in Arab news Tuesday, alongside the continued political turmoil in Tunisia and Egypt.

Georga Sabra, head of the Syrian National Council and deputy head of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, and his accompanying team survived an attempt on their lives when a car bomb exploded at the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey just moments before the arrival of the delegation, Arab media reports.

Ahmad Ramadan, a member of the Syrian National Council’s executive bureau, told London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat Tuesday that his delegation was headed to a meeting with the general staff of the Free Syrian Army at the border crossing. Ramadan said the delegation was late in arriving, and the explosion occurred 10  minutes before their arrival.

Ramadan used to the attack to reject a call by Syrian opposition leader Mouaz Khatib for dialogue with the Assad regime.

“The regime rejected any cooperation with [the initiative] and left the door open to military conflict. It does not understand any language but that of force and blood,” Ramadan told Al-Hayat.

“Iran and Hezbollah form militias to protect their interests if Assad falls,” reads the top headline of London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, featuring a photo of the destruction at the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing, which left 12 dead.

Tareq Homayed, former editor-in-chief of London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat blames American inaction for Iran’s ascendancy in Syria.

“Washington is wasting time and opportunities on the Syrian issue, and the result is more dead Syrians and allowing Tehran to strengthen its presence in Syria in preparation for the post-Assad period,” writes Homayed.

“It is vexing that Washington avoids arming the rebels or seriously acting diplomatically, while Iran sends men and weapons in preparation for the post-Assad period. Does Washington understand understand that what Iran will do in Syria is the same as it did in Lebanon by planting Hezbollah there? It will certainly gain legitimacy by opening up the Golan front and playing its false game of resistance. This will drag the entire region into devastating wars which will feature a sectarian aspect. Does Washington understand the meaning of this, and the consequences?”   

Meanwhile, a Syrian minister tasked with national reconciliation, Ali Haidar, tells the Guardian that he was willing to meet Mouaz Khatib in any foreign country and discuss “national dialogue,” Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports in an online article titled “Syrian minister welcomes dialogue with the opposition.”

Hazem Saghieh, political editor of Al-Hayat, addresses the fact that slain Tunisian oppositionist Chokri Belaid opposed the Syrian revolution, regarding it as a conspiracy against the Syrian people.

“Belaid’s position on the Syrian revolution does not diminish the pain of his assassination… but by the same token, his demise in this confrontation does not make every word he uttered true to reality,” writes Saghieh.

“Belaid’s position on the Syrian revolution resembles the position of his killers toward him and his experience. Both positions are made of the conspiratorial and superficial materials which do not hesitate to kill when killing is possible.”

Tunisian ruling party rejects PM’s proposal

And while on the subject of Tunisia, the executive bureau of the ruling Ennahda party voted to reject a proposal by Prime Minister Hamadi Jabali to replace the current coalition government with a non-affiliated government of technocrats, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports in its top front page story on Tuesday.

Members of the government instead proposed adding two parties to the ruling troika to grant the government more legitimacy following the assassination of Belaid last week.

Members of Ennahda speaking to the daily wondered whether Jabali would now resign as he promised to if his plan was not endorsed by the party.

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