Syria a sinking ship
Whether members of Egypt's defunct ruling party will be allowed to run in parliamentary elections and whether the Damascus regime is close to collapse are the biggest questions of the moment. Doaa El-Bey and Rasha Saad glean the answers
The escalating crisis in Syria and the Arab League decision to suspend Damascus's membership unless Bashar Al-Assad halts his bloody crackdown on protesters was the focus of pundits this week.
In the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper Ghassan Charbel wrote in his article 'The excessive use of force and the excessive alliance' that the Syrian regime has paid the price for the excessive use of force against protesters. The Syrian regime, adds Charbel, is also paying the price "for its adherence to the excessive alliance with Iran."
Charbel contends that the widespread Arab rejection of the official Syrian account of the events on the ground weakens Damascus's position in this new chapter of the crisis.
However, he wrote, the angry Syrian response to the rejection of its side of the story does not help in finding a way out of the crisis, but rather exacerbates it.
"Angry responses mean sliding into a major confrontation over the future in Syria and the balance of power in the region. Time is short. Avoiding a major battle requires quick, bold and painful Syrian decisions that address the excessive use of force and the excessive alliance with Iran," Charbel wrote.
Also in Al-Hayat, Jihad Al-Khazen wrote that he no longer knows "whether President Al-Assad is aware of the magnitude of his losses in only eight months, whether he can perform a miracle to save his people and his regime, or if Syria will take the road of blood and tears towards the unknown."
Al-Khazen noted that the Arab League does not enjoy the mechanisms to carry out its decisions -- as is the case with the United Nations and its organisations -- which is why it is always accused of impotence during critical and historic times.
However, Al-Khazen explains, the League's decision last Saturday features a moral value and important meanings, while its repercussions will definitely lead the Syrian crisis towards a new phase in which the noose will be tightened around the regime's neck.
"It marked a clear stand against this regime and an undeniable stand in favour of its opponents," Al-Khazen wrote.
Al-Khazen added that the League's call on the opposition factions to meet and agree over a unified vision for the next transitional phase not only unifies this opposition but also responds to Western questions surrounding the possible alternative for the existing regime, its political identity and positions towards the numerous files linked to the Syrian crisis domestically and abroad.
"This ought to reassure the international community with regard to the future and direction of the desired change," wrote Al-Khazen.
In the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, Tariq Al-Homayed pointed out three important Arab positions adopted at the Arab League meeting on Syria -- Iraq's decision not to vote on the resolution, and both Lebanon and Yemen voting against it.
Al-Homayed believes the Yemeni position is clear because the regime itself is in the eye of a storm, having been rejected by its people and the international community.
"Therefore, it is natural that it should stand in line with Al-Assad in a battle to stay in power," Al-Homayed wrote.
As for the Lebanese, Al-Homayed added, the issue is more about "subordination to Iran and its agents, whether Hizbullah or the Al-Assad regime, and it is well known that the current Lebanese government is a trinity made up of Iran, Syria and Hizbullah," Al-Homayed wrote.
Al-Homayed, however, notes that the Iraqi position is something of a development.
"Indeed a positive development, for which we should thank and praise the Kurds. The Kurdish stance prevented the Al-Maliki government from voting against the Arab resolution, and so it abstained instead," wrote Al-Homayed.
In his article 'When Bashar Al-Assad blinked first' Hussein Shobokshi wrote that "the Syrian regime has turned into a frantic monster that behaves without logic, awareness or perception, and has lost all the requirements of human sense."
In Asharq Al-Awsat Shobokshi added that the Syrian regime's sole objective now is to "save the ruling family, not even the regime or the Baath Party, and so, all its means and capabilities will serve this goal."
Shobokshi added that it is clear that the Syrian regime is under severe pressure, regionally and internationally, and all that remains is a handful of weak allies alongside Iran, which is another state that has begun to lodge veiled criticism.
Of course, Shobokshi explains, the regime is also under intense pressure internally, "for there must be groups or individuals within the regime or its institutions who believe that the current leadership is steering the whole ship towards a collision with the rocks, whereby all will drown unless they start to jump ship now."
"When this happens, and perhaps soon, there will be some who think that the door is about to close, and that the regime has lost its last chance, and that even if it remains in power it will become like the regime of Saddam Hussein in its final year," Shobokshi concluded.
In the daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abdel-Bari Atwan focused on the weakening of Syrian opposition by infighting.
Atwan wrote that Syrian opposition factions and groups are mistaken if they are relying on the Arab League and its foreign ministers to help them in their effort to topple the Syrian regime and replace it with a modern, democratic state. Atwan explains that this is not because these ministers are unwilling, but because they are unable to help.
Atwan pointed out that the most serious problem facing the Syrian opposition was the worsening divisions among its factions and the unseemly, even abusive language employed among its spokesmen at the height of their disagreements over who is representing the Syrian revolution.
"If they are unable to co-exist peacefully when they number only in the dozens, how will they rule or live together with the millions who might disagree with them inside Syria?" Atwan asked.