Syria on the slide
pinpoints the start of the eventual fall of Damascus
In the London-based daily Al-Hayat, George Semaan wrote that heated international action to lead the Syrian crisis outside the circle of violence reveals that time is running out and that waiting is no longer an option.
In an article entitled 'Syria in a race between international solution and catastrophe' Semaan wrote that "the crisis has entered a race which was not seen during the past months of the conflict, and everyone is getting nearer to the finish line."
Hence, Semaan concludes, there will either be an international breakthrough that will impose a temporary settlement or a transitional phase, or a slide towards open civil war that will affect neighbouring states and the entire region.
Semaan cites the mounting violence "practised by the tools of the regime that is not yet convinced about the futility of the security solution," and the armed groups "that are growing stronger and have started to knock on the capital's doors day and night, armed with exceptional courage and new gear" as a proof of his conclusion.
The spell of the Syrian crisis over Arab countries, especially Lebanon, was highlighted by Ghassan Charbel, also in Al-Hayat.
In his article 'The Syrian reactor' Charbel wrote that Lebanon has been moving for decades to the rhythm of the Syrian clock.
"This country [Syria] has an exceptional ability to import external fires. The bloodshed between Sunnis and Alawites in the north [of Lebanon] is but a small sample of what could happen," Charbel warned.
Charbel breaks down the consequences of what is happening in Syria on the different Lebanese factions.
The Sunnis fear the possibility of the regime surviving "for some time". The Shias fear the possibility of power in Syria falling into the hands of factions that they stood against and clashed with. The Christians are afflicted by the concerns and fears of minorities, and are divided, Charbel explains.
Amid these intense fears and wagers, Charbel adds, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman is trying to gather the Lebanese together under one roof in an attempt to postpone the outbreak of fire.
"The Lebanese are thus pretending to be preoccupied over the issues of their national dialogue, while their eyes are on Damascus. It will be difficult to rein in Lebanon's disintegration if disintegration in Syria begins," Charbel wrote.
In the Lebanese newspaper Assafir, Sateh Noureddin described the decision of Arab foreign ministers to ban Syrian officials and semi-official satellite channels as a bad move for the revolution.
Noureddin explained that out of principle, banning any media outlet, no matter how hostile one feels towards it, should not be acceptable under any circumstances.
In addition, and from a political perspective, Noureddin wrote, the decision to block Syrian channels "will not help the Syrian public feel less resentful towards the official media outlets, which are indeed an insult to the people's intelligence. On the contrary, it may increase the public's curiosity -- as is often the case with the forbidden."
According to Noureddin, the state channels represent a segment of the Syrian population "who are entitled to express themselves and have a role in the future of Syria."
"Under no circumstances should the existence of this segment be denied. On the other hand, the opposition should not be viewed as a bunch of infiltrators or terrorists that need to be eliminated and uprooted, as stated by President Bashar Al-Assad," Noureddin stated.
In the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abdel-Bari Atwan commented on the Egyptian demonstrations following the "trial of the century" verdict.
"It is only natural that Egyptians protested against the sentences meted out during the trial, especially as the court failed to identifying the killers of the revolution's martyrs, let alone punish them," wrote Atwan.
Atwan wrote that seeing Egypt's ousted president in the prison's blue uniform just like any other convicted criminal, is an unprecedented step, however it isn't enough.
Atwan explained that after "the shocking announcement of the verdicts which failed to achieve justice due to the lack of evidence," a reinvestigation of the charges facing the symbols of the former regime through transparent security services emerging from the revolution is needed.
"The former president should bow to Allah to thank Him because the Egyptian people who have been oppressed and humiliated for 30 years, treated him in such a civilised way, putting him on criminal trial and not a political one, otherwise he would have been executed on his sickbed, if not dragged through the streets like his friend Muammar Gaddafi," Atwan wrote.
"Whoever the next president will be, he will never be able to revive the old regime. Things have changed in the political, social and cultural landscape forever. These noble Egyptian people, who will never cease to impress the entire world with their revolutions and achievements, will not accept humiliation and shame again," Atwan concludes.
In the Saudi-funded Asharq Al-Awsat, Tariq Al-Homayed commented on the recent visit by an Egyptian delegation to Iran. In his article 'Ahmadinejad in Egypt?' Al-Homayed reported that while talking to the Egyptian delegates, the Iranian president said that he did not see any reason why not to visit Egypt after the departure of those who do not want him there.
In other words, Al-Homayed wrote, President Ahmadinejad wants to put forth the idea that Egyptian-Iranian differences are mere personality differences, rather than differences in interests and national security.
Al-Homayed said Egyptians must be well aware that the idea of a renewed Iranian presence in Egypt comes just as they are voting to choose their new president, and by extension deciding whether Egypt will be a civil or religious-based state.
"If it is a civil state, Egypt may resume relations with Iran but in accordance with its own interests, but if it is a religious one, will it be thrown into the arms of Iran and the Wali Al-Faqih?" Al-Homayed asked.
In its editorial, the Saudi Al-Watan wrote that with the second and final round of elections drawing near, the competition between the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi and Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafik is now entering the level of an ideological and institutional war between two groups.
The editorial stated that a bone crushing war of words is underway between the two candidates with each portraying the other as the devil.
It lamented that this escalation by both candidates is coming amidst political uncertainties looming in the country, citing the rift surrounding the formation of the constituent assembly which is to draw up the constitution and the anticipation of two pivotal verdicts by the High Constitutional Court, one that might disqualify Shafik from the presidential race by applying the disenfranchisement law and the other might result in the partial or full dissolution of the parliament.
"Amidst all this political tension, Egypt's presidential run off enters a vague future. The sharp polarisation between Shafik and Mursi adds salt to the wound and intensifies signs that the situation in Egypt is not going to get better," Al-Watan wrote.