Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Several factors help Syrian regime to consolidate its position

Bashar Al Assad is firming up his authority in Syria, an Arab editor says. Other opinion topics today: Libya's descent into the unknown, and the thoughts of Ayatollah Ali Khomenei's granddaughter.

Bashar Al Assad’s survival is likelier than ever, with various factors coalescing to favour the status quo in Syria, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the news website Rai Al Youm, wrote there on Friday.

Apart from the National Coalition for the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, no one is calling for the president to step down. In fact, the US administration and some European capitals have switched to “praising” him after his regime’s show of cooperation with the UN inspectors of chemical weapons.

Even Qatar, which has launched a political and media campaign against the Assad regime and spearheaded efforts to freeze Syria’s Arab League membership, is adopting a calmer tone now.

“After two and a half years of fierce fighting against his regime, President Bashar Al Assad is starting to fully realise that international conditions are working out in his favour, and in favour of his regime’s survival,” Atwan wrote. “Indicators of that are not in short supply.”

First, there is a push from the US and Europe to encourage Mr Al Assad to run for office next year, or at least extend his current term by claiming organisational difficulties in light of the fragile security situation across the country, according to Atwan.

“Second, the Syrian regime’s international and regional isolation is abating,” he wrote. “Its legitimacy has actually been bolstered after the chemical weapons agreement [reached between Washington and Moscow] and the US-Iran rapprochement.”

Also, he went on, “a meeting is in the offing between the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and his Syrian counterpart Walid Moallem.”

The Palestinians have also shown signs of willingness to bury the hatchet with the Syrian regime, after two and a half years of falling out. A few days ago Abbas Zaki, the envoy of the Palestinian president, Mahoud Abbas, visited Damascus and met Mr Al Assad, the writer said.

And a senior delegation from Hamas has been to Tehran in recent days to discuss the relocation of the group’s political bureau to Damascus, where it had been based for years until the Syrian regime started cracking down on the once-peaceful uprising.

The new Egyptian government, led by Gen Abdel Fattah El Sisi, has been steadily normalising relations with the Syrian government, while the regional “enemies” of the Syrian regime – such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar – are starting to reassess their stances as the spectre of radical jihad and terrorism looms ever larger across the Middle East.

Mr Al Assad, who has become a media star these days, no longer comes across as an embattled president with only a limited number of days left to go in his time in office, Atwan said in conclusion. “He seems like a confident president, determined to keep his regime in place for years to come.”

Revolution takes Libya towards the unknown

The “Libyan revolution” has become a misnomer, given that the whole purpose of a revolution is to redesign the state in a way that is fairer, more productive and more stable. That is far from happening in the North African country, the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej said yesterday in a front-page editorial.

Libya’s prime minister, Ali Zeidan, who was abducted for several hours last week by “a political faction” he did not want to name, painted a dismal picture of his country in a statement on Friday.

Mr Zeidan spoke about the persistent lack of respect for legitimacy and order in Libya, two years after Col Muammar Qaddafi, the country’s dictator for four decades, was toppled and killed in a Nato-backed operation that was hailed at the time as a great new beginning for the Libyan people.

Mr Zeidan’s statement, which described his abduction from the hotel he was staying in Tripoli as “a coup against legitimacy”, was unfortunately not an exaggeration, Al Khaleej said.

“Libya has become like a house with no walls or ceiling; it has turned into a tattered state, a hotbed of militias, guerrillas, traffickers and mercenaries who export terror across the neighbourhood.”

As Libya’s leadership loses control, the whole country “is rushing towards the unknown”, the paper concluded.

Khomeini descendant talks politics, fashion

The election of Hassan Rouhani as the Iranian president in June showed that the Iranian people still believe that change is possible, said Zahra Eshraghi, the granddaughter of Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in an interview on Saturday.

Speaking to the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, Ms Eshraghi, who is known for her bold views in favour of women’s empowerment, said: “The last election, which Mr Rouhani won, is just an extension of the May 27, 1997 election. It is proof that the Iranian people are still calling for reform, despite an eight-year lull during which an anti-reform government unfortunately took power. But the people have made it clear that they want reforms … This election has shown that people have not lost hope.”

Asked about her notable sense of fashion and the potential conflict between her taste for chic attire and her religious upbringing, Ms Eshraghi responded: “My family is actually like me in that regard, including my sisters, my mother and even my grandmother. The wife of the imam [Khomeini] was a very elegant woman; she was more elegant than we, her granddaughters, are … My grandmother was also a cultured woman, well educated, a poet, and a fan of very chic clothes.”

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National