Al-Ahram Weekly Online   18 - 24 October 2012
Issue No. 1119
Press review
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Might take years

Doaa El-Bey looks at the embarrassing backing down of President Morsi when he came to sack the prosecutor-general and how long it might take for the Syrian crisis to end

The resolution of the Syrian crisis was the main concern this week.

Fayez Sarah looked at the future awaiting Syria. He wrote that many are questioning the future of Damascus in the light of two matters: the escalation of the confrontation between the regime and the opposition, and the failure of international efforts to resolve the crisis.

"In the light of the present situation, the future of Syria is open to more internal conflicts that could lead to catastrophic consequences," Sarah wrote in the London-based political daily Asharq Al-Awsat.

The escalation of the conflict, Sarah added, would increase the number of casualties which reached some three million dead, injured, displaced and detained.

However, the more important consequence of the ongoing conflict, according to the writer, is deepening the crisis in a way that would make resolving it take years or decades.

Thus, any initiative to resolve the Syrian conflict soon is very important as it will contribute to reducing casualties, ease the suffering of the people and save further political effort that would be needed to resolve it in the future.

The first step towards resolving the crisis, the writer explained, is to persuade or force the internal parties to accept a resolution that most of them agree on. The second step should be an agreement among the regional and international parties on a framework for resolving the crisis either through the UN or away from it.

Sarah drew three tracks for the solution -- the first is political, which seems difficult, but not impossible. The solution could be through a transitional period of six months or a year during which a peaceful transformation of the authority could be followed by a comprehensive change of the present regime and substituting it with a new regime.

The second track could be political-military which is not as impossible as the first track. That could be carried out through strong international resolutions issued by the Security Council or another influential international body that would arrange for a transitional period that would allow for the peaceful transformation of the authority.

The third possible track is military via the intervention of the Security Council. Sarah regarded the last track as the most likely in the light of the failure of all other political initiatives. However, it is the most difficult for the Syrians because of the possible loss of life and financial burden.

Hamid Al-Mansouri focussed on the Quartet as another regional tool for resolving the Syrian crisis. He wrote that politics should not contradict with the basics of geometry. That is, the Islamic Quartet which comprises Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt aimed to press the Syrian regime and opposition to submit concessions in order to resolve the crisis.

Although one can claim that the four countries represent a political and military power, they do not constitute a proper square. In geometry, Al-Mansouri explained, a square has four equal and perpendicular sides. But in the Quartet, the countries have different social and security aims. As a result, their sides cannot meet and they cannot make a square.

Cairo, Al-Mansouri elaborated, believes that Iran, which is part of the problem, can play a role in resolving it. That is, Egypt wants to put the ball in Iran's court to force it to get a goal by resolving the Syrian crisis. That could even lead to forming coalitions between the mullahs and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudi absence in the first meeting indicated the weakness of the Quartet. It initially took part in the committee because it aims to lift the suffering of the Syrians and because it is the first Egyptian political move under Morsi. In fact, the Quartet was originally proposed by Morsi. However, Riyadh could not continue in the meeting because there is a difference between the Egyptian and Saudi vision. Egypt wants Iran to be part of the solution whereas the Kingdom considers Tehran part of the reason for the crisis.

Al-Mansouri pointed to other differences between the member states. Turkey believes that the solution to the Syrian crisis should be within a regional framework whereas Iran insists that it should come from within Syria. He also expected that Turkey may withdraw from the Quartet like Riyadh after the air attack that Syria launched against its territories.

"It is clear that the Quartet cannot form the coalition needed to contain the Syrian crisis. Their meeting, as the article argues, led to political arguments between the member states," Al-Mansouri wrote in the United Arab Emirates daily Al-Ittihad.

Repeated Israeli raids against Palestinian territories prompted the Qatari daily Al-Raya to point to a new Israeli plan to launch war in the region. Its editorial said that the death of five Palestinians in less than 24 hours as a result of Israeli raids in Gaza is unacceptable. It indicated that there was no doubt that Israel planned beforehand to escalate the situation in Gaza as well as in the West Bank and Jeruslaem.

The editorial called on Palestinians and other Arabs to take a decisive stand to press the Security Council into stopping Israeli plans to Judiase and seize Palestinian lands.

It is important, the edit added, to realise that it is not because of Palestinian "terrorist" groups that Israel launches raids against them as Tel Aviv claims. It is a pre-planned programme that aims to put the region in a war.

The editorial of the Saudi daily Al-Watan criticised Hizbullah's leader Hassan Nasrallah for disclosing that it was his party that launched the drone in Israeli airspace before Tel Aviv air forces dropped it. Nasrallah's disclosure, the edit added, increased the rift caused by the Syrian revolution and the 2006 war in Lebanon and proved that Hizbullah is not keen to preserve Lebanese internal or regional peace.

"Israel will always be the main and only enemy in the conscience of the Arabs. But that does not mean Lebanon would be the launch pad for drones as it used to be for the Iranian nuclear project. This is something that no wise Lebanese would accept," the edit added.

Any future war, if it comes, would be catastrophic, not only for Hizbullah but for Lebanon and the region, the edit concluded.

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