The resignation of Tunisia’s Islamist Prime Minister Ali Al-Aridh ahead of the announcement of a new technocrat government leads the news in much of the Arab media on Friday, while Syria’s opposition indicates it may postpone the Geneva 2 conference scheduled for the end of January.
“Tunisia’s new government will assume its duty within two weeks,” reads the headline of Al-Jazeera‘s website, a Qatar-based news channel. According to the TV report, “an atmosphere of contentment dominates Tunisia,” as the resignation indicates that all political parties are moving towards national elections as planned.
“The train of democratic transition was restored to its tracks without violence, revolution or blood,” said the reporter.
The resignation of Al-Aridh, a member of the Islamist Ennahda party, may indicate the faltering of political Islam in Tunisia, the first country to go through the Arab Spring. But Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat leads its front page news with statements by Ennahda leader Rashed Ghannoushi that “we have left the government, not governance” — defying the country’s gloating opposition. Still, the daily dubs the resignation “a breakthrough in Tunisia’s political track” and “a safe sortie for Ennahda after two years in power.”
The country has already appointed a substitute prime minister, Mehdi Jomaa, who will begin consultations on the new government on Friday.
Al-Hayat, a London-based newspaper, notes meanwhile that Tunisia’s provisional parliament has ratified the principle of equality between man and woman in “a precedent in Tunisia and the Arab world.” Article 45 of the new constitution stipulates that the state will aspire to realize equality between men and women in elected councils; an especially impressive accomplishment, the daily states, given the Islamist majority in parliament.
Syrian opposition wishes to postpone Geneva 2
A source in Syria’s opposition coalition tells A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the opposition needs more time “to put its house in order” ahead of the Geneva 2 conference scheduled for the end of the month.
On Sunday, the coalition will submit a list of basic demands to the “friends of Syria” countries before deciding finally on whether to participate. The main demands include providing safe passage to areas controlled by the government, relieving the siege on certain areas, and allowing medical supplies and food to reach civilians.
Meanwhile, many of the Arab editorials on Friday deal with the fighting in Syria between Al-Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Free Syrian Army.
Al-Hayat columnist Walid Shqeir argues that the Syrian regime is glad to use the ISIL model to portray the Syrian opposition as a group of Jihadists.
“That is why the regime began handing ISIL certain areas, in order to force people to decide between it and this Jihadist organization, starting in Raqqa approximately a year and a half ago.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahman Rashed commends the Syrian Muslim population for choosing to fight Islamist extremism over the rival Alawite sect inside Syria.
“No doubt, Syria experienced the cleanest and most civilized Arab revolution until the extremists sullied it and the international community failed it,” writes Rashed.
“The [Jihadist] groups raising black flags thought that by digging up historic animosities they would secure the loyalty of the betrayed Syrians. They thought that riding the wave of hatred for the regime’s Alawites would grant them complete loyalty. But despite the exploding barrels and the starvation, the Syrians have turned against the extremists. Today we witness an important historic occurrence: various Syrian Sunni forces fighting not the Alawites but the extremist Sunni ISIL.”