A powerful suicide bombing in Yemen which killed nearly 100 soldiers and injured 300 is leading the news in most Arabic language media outlets Tuesday.
“Yemen: Massacre during military parade; defense minister and chief of staff survive,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. A photo displays a gloved Yemeni soldier lifting remains from the scene of the explosion, apparently collecting forensic evidence. The daily says Monday’s explosion was the worst in Yemen’s history, noting that the perpetrator belonged to the Central Security Forces, a military unit commanded by the nephew of deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Al-Hayat, a liberal daily published in London, begins the story with a condemnation issued by the six Gulf Cooperation Council states, who described the attack as “a cowardly act of terrorism.”
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, an Arab-nationalist daily published in London, reports that the attack targeted Yemen’s defense minister, who attended the parade rehearsal during which the attack took place.
Al-Jazeera, a news channel based in Qatar, leads its coverage of the Yemeni story by quoting US President Barack Obama as saying that his administration is “very worried” about the activities of al-Qaeda in Yemen. A photo on the website shows Yemeni soldiers collecting body parts at the scene of the explosion.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tareq Homayed compares the attack in Yemen to the events tanking place in Syria. He says the Yemeni case highlights the fact that there is a real “al-Qaeda” in the Middle East, intent on inflicting the highest level of destruction, whereas Assad invented a make-believe al-Qaeda which he accuses of attacking Syrians, but which never causes any harm to pro-regime soldiers.
“What we witnessed in Syria is ‘Assad’s Aa-Qaeda’,, not the bloody, lethal al-Qaeda. Assad’s al-Qaeda works to create conspiracies and destroy issues, not to inflict wanton destruction,” writes Homayed.
Syrian regime cracks down on defectors
Arab media report widespread arrest campaigns across Syria, as the government attempts to contain the protest movement from engulfing the capital Damascus.
“Syria: executions of defectors and a strike in Hama,” reads the headline of Al-Hayat, which reports the refusal of the Assad regime to deal with the Arab League, which it defines as “part of the problem, not the solution.”
“Four Syrian cities under bombardment, and Hariri blames Assad for exporting the fighting to Lebanon,” reads the headline in A-Sharq Al-Awsat. The article begins with reports of calm being restored to northern Lebanon following the eruption of violence in the cities of Tripoli and Akkar. An image in the article displays masked Lebanese men burning tires in the western Bekaa area of Lebanon, protesting the killing of a Sunni Lebanese cleric Sunday.
“There is no civil war in Lebanon, at least not for the foreseeable future,” writes Al-Hayat columnist Hossam Ayatani. In an editorial titled “the map of Sunni Lebanon is changing,” he writes that the poorer Sunnis in Lebanon are discontent with their current leadership, in the form of Saad Hariri.
“It is true to think that the middle and lower classes of the Sunni sect in Lebanon, especially in the countryside and the poor neighborhoods of Beirut, want at east to regain their voice with the Hariri leadership, and probably replace it.”
Egyptian elections occupy editorials
A day ahead of the presidential elections in Egypt, propaganda has been banned in the country, replaced by editorials and political analysis.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abd Al-Rahman Rashed writes about “the Palestinian dimension of the Egyptian elections,”
“What are the priorities of the Egyptian voter? More importantly, what are the capabilities of the new president — regardless of his decision — toward the conflict with Israel, the most difficult and dangerous of issues?”
Rashed writes that a new Egyptian president may chose the path of appeasement or the path of confrontation with Israel.
“But the decision on war is more difficult than the decision of peace for any Egyptian president, because the cost of war is greater than the capabilities of the state, which is obligated to provide bread to its citizens every day.”
Rahsed claims that Egypt cannot defeat Israel militarily, but can play an important role in mediating peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Although I doubt that the first president of the second republic can reverse the balance of power, or risk testing it through war, he can adopt a solution that will establish a Palestinian state, an achievement that deposed president Hosni Mubarak did not manage for 30 years.”