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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Review of the Arab press

AMMAN, Jordan, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Arab press roundup for Aug. 16:

Lebanon's as-Safir commented Wednesday that it wished Syrian President Bashar Assad had praised the Lebanese resistance and the steadfastness and unity of the Lebanese people in a speech he gave from Damascus on Tuesday. Criticizing Assad's speech, the mass-circulation daily said the Syrian failure in Lebanon allowed for the intervention and influence of foreign forces in the country. It argued that the Lebanese who were keen on reconciliation with Damascus wished the Syrian president used the "moment of victory achieved by the resistance, and the excellent popular and government solidarity, to address all of Lebanon to open a new page based on brotherhood and partnership in destiny." The paper, with Arab nationalist trends, said the Lebanese hoped Assad used the opportunity of Lebanon's triumph over Israel to "open his heart to Lebanon, and to turn into an instigator of Lebanese steadfastness and unity" instead of being involved in rivalry, "especially in light of the danger that is facing our entire Arab nation, starting with Syria."

Lebanon's Daily Star said President Assad "came out of hiding to make his first public appearance since the start" of the Israeli war on Lebanon in a "theatrical appearance" in Damascus, but Syria refuses to sign documents confirming the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms are Lebanese territory. The independent English-language paper added in its editorial that Assad and the Damascus regime were aware that the issue of the Shebaa Farms has been the center of "Lebanon's quest for liberation from Israeli occupation," while all Lebanese affirm the land belongs to them. It complained the Lebanese have suffered decades of conflict and wars with Israel and "what we need now from Syria is not subversive manipulation of Lebanese politics or the micro-management of our political affairs for financial gain." It insisted all Lebanon needed from Damascus is a "simple piece of paper, a document that states unequivocally that the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese."

Jordan's al-Ghad said in a commentary that if Assad had broken his silence during the Israeli war on Lebanon, his "overbidding" rhetoric might have seemed more ridiculous "amid the noise of the (Israeli) bombs with which the Syrians did nothing to confront." The independent daily blasted the Syrian president, saying he spoke as if he had just returned from the war front and lectured about resistance and steadfastness as if the Golan Heights were on fire in confronting the Israeli occupation. "He forgot that people have memories, ears and eyes that did not record any Syrian act of resistance for decades and noticed nothing from the Syrian regime except bullying Lebanon and the Syrian people and submission to Israel," the commentary opined. It accused the Syrian president of trying to "plant seeds of sedition, fighting and chaos" after the Lebanese emerged united and steadfast from the Israeli war machine. It criticized the Syrian president for speaking about the Lebanese resistance when there is no such thing as Syrian resistance, saying Damascus has no right to exploit the steadfastness of the Lebanese resistance to feed its own rhetoric, "which has lost all influence, except among those few who are still hostage to the dictatorship mentality." It insisted it would have been better if the Syrian regime remained silent after the war on Lebanon "dropped the mask of nationalism, in which it unsuccessfully tries to cover its failure, impotence and tools to suppress the Lebanese and the Syrians."

The London-based ash-Sharq al-Awsat lashed out at Syria and Iran, saying their leaders came out to speak in support of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerilla group after the war ended to claim victory from Damascus and Tehran. The Saudi-owned daily complained that "everyone is claiming victory, and the facts show that Iran did not fire a single bullet to save Lebanon... while heroic and steadfast Syria, which today throws out accusations of treason here are there, was nothing more than an honorary observer in the war on Lebanon." It said Syria had in fact continued to deny its influence on Hezbollah, but now, "after the destruction of Lebanon, it declares a 'strategic victory.'" The commentary said it did not know what wars Syria waged against Israel except in 1967 when it lost the Golan Heights to Israel and the "steadfast capital" did not fire a single bullet towards the Golan since then. "It has only fired slogans of accusations of treachery and incitement," it opined, adding that Assad's talk about resistance, honor and war is all confined to Lebanon and Lebanese blood. "What about Syria?" it asked. "Why does Syria not open a branch for Hezbollah on its territories and launch a battle of liberation if resistance is an option?"

Qatar's ash-Sharq said in its editorial that the quick developments in the region and Washington's talk of a new Middle East are attempts to ignore and forget the Palestinian question, which it described as the central issue for all Arabs and Muslims and the cause of the conflict. The pro-government daily argued that ignoring the Palestinian problem will only further destabilize the region and encourage violence and terrorism. It said convening an international peace conference is now needed more than ever after Israel's latest war on Lebanon and its repercussions in terms of "drawing up the political map of the region." The international sponsors of the Middle East peace process, it insisted, should lead serious action and to realize that "the situation faces more escalation and tension." The daily said the world must understand that any peace cannot surpass Syria, which has occupied territories and should not "fall to the Israeli-American propaganda" against Damascus. "The Palestinian people are being killed in their homes every day," it said, "and the Israeli war on Lebanon, which revealed Washington's collusion, came to destroy any Palestinian dream for independence and a durable state."
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