Negotiations go south, Syrian Jihadists go east
Arabic media review

Negotiations go south, Syrian Jihadists go east

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant takes control of areas near Iraq; Saeb Erekat calls Israel a pirate

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

Illustrative photo of a car bombing in Homs province, central Syria (photo credit: AP/SANA)
Illustrative photo of a car bombing in Homs province, central Syria (photo credit: AP/SANA)

The American efforts to jump-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians feature prominently in Arab media Friday, alongside reports of military advances by Jihadists in Syria.

“The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) strengthens its hold near the Iraqi border,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring a photo of bearded Syrian fighters on the backdrop of the black Al-Qaeda flag.

According to the report, the fighters in Syria advanced toward the border with Iraq in order to strengthen their communications with their comrades on the other side. A member of the Syria Observatory for Human Rights told AFP news agency that the Jihadist fighters attacked the border city of Al-Bukamal and clashed with other Islamist opposition members from Al-Nusra Front.

The energy minister of Syria’s opposition government told London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi that “armed members of the opposition and tribesmen” control all of Syria’s oil and gas, adding that his government, currently based in Istanbul, controls “not one [oil] well.”

Elias Wardeh told the daily that his provisional government depends on income from the wells for its independent existence, since so far governmental funding from Arab countries has placed it under “regional pressures and influences.”

Wardeh added that ISIL’s control over Syria’s natural resources is very limited; confined to the northern city of Raqqa which has very little oil.

Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat features a front page article about Druze discontentment in Syria, revolving around the southern city of Sweidaa’, where Druze comprise a majority of the population.

Opposition sources reported that anger with the regime began when government security officials forced a religious woman in traditional garb to raise the portrait of President Bashar Assad, angering community elders. Several Druze men are also being held in Assad’s prisons.

A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that ISIL’s drive eastward is meant to reach the oil-rich province of Deir al-Zour.

Meanwhile, Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera, a pro-opposition channel with reporters on the ground, reports on opposition advancements in the city of Aleppo and west of the capital Damascus.

A video report on the channel’s website shows tribesmen in the central city of Homs vowing to fight until they topple the Assad regime.

Negotiation in a bind

In its video report following the most recent meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Thursday, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports “more extreme positions and conflicting statements.”

“The Americans denied reaching an agreement but spoke about narrowing the gap,” says the reporter, noting that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied that any progress was made.

“According to the Palestinians, the trilateral meeting was very rancorous, with Israel again trying to pressure and blackmail the Palestinians by tying the release of the fourth batch of prisoners to extending the negotiations,” reads the report.

The report further quotes Erekat as calling an Israeli decision to freeze the transfer of tax money collected by Israel for the PA “Israeli piracy.”

An op-ed in Palestinian official daily Al-Ayyam titled “last option: the battle to liberate the Palestinian state” expresses the high level of Palestinian frustration with the Netanyahu government.

“It is as though Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of the extreme right-wing government, was waiting on hot coals for the negotiations to reach a dead end so he could unleash his aggressive actions against the Palestinians,” writes columnist Rajab Abu-Sariyah.

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