A year after bin Laden, the Arab world has other concerns
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Arabic media review

A year after bin Laden, the Arab world has other concerns

Leading Arab editor eulogizes al-Qaeda leader as inspiration to the Islamic world

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

Egyptian presidential candidate Abd Al-Munim Abu-Fattouh (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)
Egyptian presidential candidate Abd Al-Munim Abu-Fattouh (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

Syria remains high on the headlines of Arab newspapers, leading the news in all three major international Arabic language dailies. On Wednesday, all eyes are turned to the UN and its new statement on the situation in Syria.

“The United Nations warns of ‘other possibilities’ with the continuation of violence,” reads the headline of liberal London-based daily Al-Hayat. The article features an image of a wounded young girl, reportedly hurt by artillery fire directed at her village, near Idlib. The daily reports 43 dead across Syria in clashes between government and opposition forces.

“Syria: The killing continues, and the UN: Tanks are still in the cities,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, published in London. “Even if Idlib is completely destroyed, the body parts will come out and say: ‘Leave!'” reads the sign carried by a young protester near Idlib in the photo in the daily’s article.

“Will the regime succeed this time too?” asks A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist and Al-Arabiya news channel manager Abd Al-Rahman Rashed. He notes the suspicious timing of the bombings in Damascus and Idlib coinciding with the arrival of international monitors, attacks which the Syrian government rushed to attribute to terrorist groups.

“In past decades it would have convinced many people of such stories, but now it reached the end of road of lies,” Rashed writes. “The regime believes it can continue ruling with the same tactics, seeking to flee its crimes as it did for 40 years.”

‘Bin Laden papers’ continue to make waves

Documents belonging to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, published on Monday and Tuesday by the United States, continue to make waves in Arab media.

“Bin Laden documents: He was worried about his popularity and advised his children to stay in Iran,” reads the headline of A-Sharq Al-Awsat. The daily reports that the “treasure” seized by the American forces that stormed Bin Laden’s home in Abbottabad contained more than 6,000 documents revealing Bin Laden’s fanciful and paranoid state of mind in his last years.

On the first anniversary of bin Laden’s death, Saudi-owned news website Elaph reports that Pakistani authorities rushed to destroy his compound in Abbottabad following his death. Quoting the British Telegraph, the site reports that the contracting company tasked with demolishing the three-story home has begun selling its remains “stone by stone,” including the home-made TV antenna.

But the hard-line editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abd Al-Bari Atwan, believes bin Laden’s death is not the end of the line for his movement. In an article titled “They assassinated bin Laden but did not assassinate al-Qaeda,” Atwan argues that the US acknowledged bin Laden’s appeal with the Arab masses, which is why his body was buried at sea.

“Sheikh Osama bin Laden became a symbol in the minds of his followers, and they are many throughout the Islamic world,” writes a clearly sympathetic Atwan.

“Al-Qaeda has become like a huge tree with branches in the air and deep roots underground. Cut a brunch or more, big as it is, bin Laden or Awlaqi, the roots will not weaken — as they are a mixture of grievances and hopes. This explains the failure of the war waged by the United States with Arab and foreign security agencies against al-Qaeda for over 10 years.”

Egypt’s military applies silent treatment to the Muslim Brotherhood

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has decided to ignore the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party by not inviting it to a debate on new the constitution committee. According to Al-Hayat, Freedom and Justice was the only Egyptian party not to be invited. Even the Salafists have broken with the Brotherhood in its call to sack the government of Kamal Ganzouri, leaving it alone to face the powerful SCAF.

Meanwhile, Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera reports that independent Islamist candidate Abd Al-Munim Abu-Fattouh just won the support of the extremist Gamaa Islamiyah party, days after the Salafists endorsed his candidacy. This development pushes Abu-Fattouh even further ahead of his Muslim Brotherhood contender Muhammad Mursi, who wins only 3% public support according to a recent poll by Al-Ahram.

In an interview with the Egyptian establishment daily Al-Ahram, Mursi — a chemical engineer who had taught in the United States — stated that he and his wife did not have American passports. He added that he had not traveled to the United States since 1985 “even though the American people are kind and nice.”

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