Egypt’s carrot and stick in Sinai
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Arabic media review

Egypt’s carrot and stick in Sinai

Death toll rises in Syria as refugees flee to Jordan, and Egypt’s new defense minister engages in dialogue with Sinai tribesmen

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

A Syrian man walks by a building destroyed in an airstrike in Aleppo, August 17 (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)
A Syrian man walks by a building destroyed in an airstrike in Aleppo, August 17 (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

Evidence of a new massacre in Syria, this time in the capital Damascus, and reports of heavy government bombing occupy the main headlines of Arab news Tuesday.

“A massacre in Qaboun and Turkey calls for a buffer zone in Syria,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, which features a photo of a destroyed tank in the foreground and a bombed-out mosque in the background in the city of Azaz.

“Headless bodies after an attack which followed shelling of a Damascus suburb,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat. The daily reports that the 12 bodies, two of which belong to children, were found badly mangled, hit by shooting at close range. Al-Hayat reports that violence in Syria is currently focused in the cities of Aleppo and Daraa.

London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi covers developments in Syria from a Jordanian angle. The daily reports that the Jordanian government is very anxious about the flare-up on its border with Syria, in the Tora-Tel Shihab region. The region has served as a passageway for senior Syrian defectors into Jordan.

Issa claims that Bashar has broken with the closed tradition of his father and has tried to introduce reforms to Syria, but has faced significant opposition by ‘the old guard’

The daily’s Jordan correspondent Bassam Badarin reports that Jordanian officials are worried about pro-Assad “sleeper cells” entering the kingdom among the 160,000 Syrian refugees who have flooded into Jordan.

Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera reports on the departure of the UN monitors from Syria, which it defines as “anything but successful.”

“The team, which came as part of an ambitious plan to impose a ceasefire, is leaving, with the situation on the ground seeming worse than it was when they arrived four months ago,” reads the report.

In a separate article, the station claims that Obama is “threatening” Assad with military intervention if chemical weapons are transferred by the regime. According to Al-Jazeera, the number of refugees arriving in Jordan has increased over the past few days, reaching an average of 400-700 refugees a day.

In an op-ed titled “A different point of view on Assad’s choices,” Syrian writer Bashir Issa claims that the Assad regime is not as cohesive and homogeneous as it is often portrayed in the media. Issa claims that Bashar has broken with the closed tradition of his father and has tried to introduce reforms to Syria, but has faced significant opposition by “the old guard.”

“[Assad] believes that what is happening in Syria is not a revolution but an American-Zionist conspiracy, requiring him to fight to the end!” writes Issa.

Egypt sends tanks and fighter jets to Sinai

The Egyptian military activity to eradicate “terrorist nests” in the Sinai peninsula has made it to the front page of A-Sharq Al-Awsat Tuesday. The daily reports that Egypt is prepared to use tanks and fighter jets in Sinai “for the first time since the 1973 war with Israel.” The article reports that the Egyptian forces are receiving “logistical support” from local Bedouin chiefs.

The minister told the locals that ‘we will not answer ideas with weapons,’ meaning that Islamist ideologies will be tolerated by the state as long as they are not accompanied with violent actions

Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that during a meeting between Egypt’s new defense minister Abdul Fatah Sisi and Bedouin tribesmen, the minister acknowledged Egypt’s longstanding marginalization of the region.

“We have wronged Sinai and neglected its development,” Sisi told the tribesmen. “We are not opposed to Islamic groups, but we oppose those who raise weapons against protected people and frighten civilians. We will cut off the arm of those who raise weapons, and will not allow Sinai to become fertile ground to armed men,” Sisi was quoted as saying.

‘We have wronged Sinai and neglected its development’

“Defense minister demands Sinai tribes support the military operations,” reads the headline of establishment daily Al-Ahram. The daily calls the military operation in Sinai “security operations to eradicate criminal enclaves.” The daily reports that the names of those responsible for the attack on an Egyptian outpost near the Rafah border crossing earlier this month will be announced “within days.”

Independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm includes minister Sisi’s conciliatory words to the Bedouin in its headline as well. According to the daily, the minister told the locals that “we will not answer ideas with weapons,” meaning that Islamist ideologies will be tolerated by the state as long as they are not accompanied by violent actions.

 

 

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