Turkish military escalation on the border with Syria and the announcement of early elections in Israel are leading the news in Arab dailies Wednesday.
“Erdogan is prepared for ‘all contingencies’ and NATO identifies with him,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, The daily quotes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as demanding the Syrian government to halt its fire unilaterally.
“Turkey deploys F-16s on the border and NATO goes into alert,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, which features a photo of Turkey’s chief of staff visiting the Syrian border Tuesday. The daily also reports that seven senior Syrian officers belonging to Assad’s Alawite denomination have defected from the army.
In a separate article, the daily reports that Iraq is supplying the Assad regime with discounted oil, based on a report in the British Financial Times. The Iraqi parliament commented to A-Sharq Al-Awsat that such a deal was legal, but impossible to implement without the knowledge of parliament.
Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera reports that Israel is holding a military maneuver in the Negev desert in preparation for “a war with Syria and Hezbollah.”
‘We do not believe that NATO, which has been engaged in a losing war in Afghanistan for the past 11 years will be prepared to engage in another war in Syria, which could evolve into a regional war or even a third world war’
The lead editorial in London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi claims that the escalation on the Syrian-Turkish border is a deliberate Syrian attempt to punish the Turks for their support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
“What is for certain is that Syria has begun to feel the pain of Turkish support for the Free Syrian Army and the armed groups affiliated with it. [Syria] has decided to scream by militarily provoking the Turkish bully which is determined to do all in its power to topple the regime in Damascus.”
The editor goes on to claim that Erdogan is disappointed with NATO’s weak stance on military intervention. With typical hyperbole, he describes the possible ramifications of military intervention in Syria.
“We do not believe that NATO, which has been engaged in a losing war in Afghanistan for the past 11 years, will be prepared to engage in another war in Syria which could evolve into a regional war or even a third world war. Turkey is also a Muslim country, and there is no oil in Syria.”
Israel goes to elections
Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement on early elections Tuesday is receiving major play in Arab media.
“Netanyahu advances the elections with a security agenda,” reads the headline in Al-Hayat, while Al-Jazeera’s headline reads “early Israeli elections because of the budget.”
Al-Jazeera carries a comment by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat saying he hopes that the Israeli election campaign will not “turn into a race of settlement expansion in the West Bank.”
‘The political process may not disturb anyone in Israel, because there is nothing to remind Israelis of the reality of occupation, which has become not only expedient but even extremely convenient’
Ashraf Ajrami, a columnist for Palestinian Authority mouthpiece Al-Ayyam, predicts Wednesday that the defunct peace process will not feature high in the Israeli political campaigns. Some opposition parties may berate Netanyahu for not moving forward with the Palestinians, but the matter is “no longer vital for the public at this stage.”
“The political process may not disturb anyone in Israel, because there is nothing to remind Israelis of the reality of occupation, which has become not only expedient but even extremely convenient. It provides the highest level of security both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip,” writes Ajrami.
“Only a few activists from the extinct left and a few officials perceive the dangers of sustaining the situation as is in strategic terms. They are the ones concerned with the future of the [peace process], and besides them no one even senses anything called ‘the conflict’.”
Iraq signs mega arms deal with Russia
During a visit to Moscow Tuesday, Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki signed arms deals with Russia worth 4.2 billion dollars, Al-Hayat reports.
The daily notes that Maliki used the same terms for Iraq’s rapprochement with Russia as he did in the past with the US. During his visit, Maliki invited his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev to visit Baghdad.
“A Russian arms deal with Iraq compensates for its losses in Libya and Syria,” reads the headline in A-Sharq Al-Awsat, which describes Iraq as “an important portal for Russia to enter the Middle East arms market.” The daily reports that the deal includes the purchase of 30 helicopters and 42 portable missile launchers.
‘It is clear that Mr. Nouri Maliki is trying to reconcile the irreconcilable through an alliance with Tehran, Moscow and Washington at the same time. No one in the region has succeeded in doing that’
Al-Jazeera reports that Maliki’s visit to Russia has sparked political controversy in Iraq, especially due to the fact that it came at the heels of a visit by Iran’s defense secretary to Moscow.
“The Iraqi government headed by Nouri Maliki faces great pressure from Iran, trying to drag it into the pro-Assad camp. At the same time, there are domestic pressures led by the Iraqi bloc and the Kurdish alliance supporting the American pressure against the Syrian regime.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed accuses Maliki of providing the Russians with a regional alternative to Assad. He says that joining the Russian camp will inevitably remove Iraq from the fold of Arab nations.
“It is clear that Mr. Nouri Maliki is trying to reconcile the irreconcilable through an alliance with Tehran, Moscow and Washington at the same time. No one in the region has succeeded in doing that,” writes Homayed.