Turkish warnings to Syria lead Arabic print news on Tuesday, as cross-border clashes intensify and the threat of war looms near.
“Erdoğan calls on Assad to be sensible, and on the Turks to prepare for war,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, accompanied by a photo of the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter killed in Syria.
The daily reports that Syrian National Council chief Abdul Basit Sida toured the Turkish-Syrian border Monday and said that Baath party members will not be purged in post-Assad Syria, as was the case in post-Saddam Iraq. Sida added that as long as Baath members do not take part in killing, they may continue to participate in the political game, including Vice-President Farouq Shara.
The daily also reports that 13 Hezbollah fighters are currently held by the Free Syrian Army near Homs, after admitting to being sent to fight alongside Assad forces. A spokesman for the FSA threatened to transfer the fighting to Beirut’s southern suburbs (a Hezbollah stronghold), if the Shiite Islamic movement does not stop supporting the Assad regime.
A Lebanese member of parliament for Hezbollah, Kamel Rifai, told A-Sharq Al-Awsat that an Islamic legal opinion prohibits Hezbollah men from fighting in Syria, claiming that the fighters buried were killed in an arms depot explosion in Nabi Sheet and in a Hezbollah training camp inside Lebanon.
“Gul sees ‘the worst scenario’ unfolding in Syria and Ban Ki-Moon warns of the situation’s gravity,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which quotes a BBC report on crates of weapons meant for Saudi Arabia that have reached rebels in the city of Aleppo.
Saudi-owned news site Elaph reports that the ‘romantic’ aura of the fighting in Syria has managed to draw Jihadists from as far afield as the United Kingdom
Some members of the Syrian opposition may support Farouq Shara as Assad’s replacement, claims former Syrian National Council chief Burhan Ghalioun, Al-Jazeera reports. However, Shara will likely not take the position for what he called “reasons relating to Shara himself.”
Meanwhile, London-based daily Al-Hayat leads its coverage of Syria with reports of “deportation and purification” in the capital Damascus and “barbaric attacks” on Homs and its environs, in “an apparent attempt to remove the specter of fighting from Damascus …and to keep communication lines open with the Latakia province with no interference.”
Saudi-owned news site Elaph reports that the “romantic” aura of the fighting in Syria has managed to draw Jihadists from as far afield as the United Kingdom. According to a report, based on an article in the Times of London, most British fighters entering Syria through Turkey or Lebanon are of Pakistani or North African origin.
New reports on Iranian espionage in Yemen
New reports on Iranian spying cells, including Syrian members, have emerged in Yemen Monday and were carried by the major Arab news outlets.
The Yemeni defense ministry claimed that six new cells were cracked, made of of Iranian nationals who had entered the country as business investors. The men received a permit to set up a factory, and began importing equipment through the port of Aden. However, one equipment container that was searched revealed materials “that could be used for the manufacturing of rockets and other weapons.” The Iranians were promptly arrested and investigated, Al-Hayat reports.
Lawlessness in Egyptian Rafah
An Al-Jazeera correspondent reporting from the Egyptian city of Rafah, neighboring the Gaza Strip in northeastern Sinai, writes that the city is “without police and without communications.”
‘The first surprise upon approaching Rafah was that no service was available for any Egyptian mobile company. But the second and greater surprise was the absence of Egyptian police inside the city’
“The first surprise…upon approaching Rafah was that no service was available for any Egyptian mobile company, while Palestinian and Israeli networks could be received easily.”
“But the second and greater surprise was the absence of Egyptian police inside the city. This situation has existed since the events of the January 25 revolution, 2011.” That is when local residents attacked police stations in protest against years of ill-treatment by the regime.
Local disputes, a resident told the reporter, are solved through tribal sheikhs or Sharia courts, which manage to maintain law and order.
The owner of a smuggling tunnel, used to transport building materials banned by Israel into the Gaza Strip, told the reporter that around 100 tunnels were destroyed by the Egyptian army in recent weeks, but that hundreds of other tunnels still remain active.