Washington risks its regional influence by its waffling over substantive aid to Syria's rebels
Bashar Al Assad's talk with the UK's Sunday Times, published last Sunday, was his first major interview with international media in over a year.
In a comment article, the columnist Saleh Al Qallab wrote in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat: during the interview, Mr Al Assad mentioned "terrorism" and "terrorists" 34 times referring to the Free Army and the Syrian opposition forces.
"This only shows how hard he is trying to persuade himself, before anyone else, of the lie that his security apparatus fabricated to justify his crimes against his people," he said.
Mr Al Assad's claim that the Free Syrian Army, which consists almost entirely of defectors from Syria's regular army, is merely a cluster of terrorist groups, armed gangs and conspirators contradicts his national reconciliation project. It rebuts his call for "an open dialogue with all Syrians and on all levels".
Mr Al Assad's insistence on portraying the opposition as a mob of armed gangsters means that all Arab and international efforts to find a political solution for Syria's thorny crisis are useless.
All hope for a way out of the tragedy in Syria seems dim as long as the president believes that the purpose of a proposed dialogue is to "give the militants an opportunity to lay down their weapons".
"There is no more room for deliberating over political solutions or negotiations. The FSA and the Syrian opposition must be given the adequate support that would allow them to change the balance of power on the ground, which would eventually force the regime to give up power," suggested the writer.
Meanwhile, death and destruction are on the rise in the war-torn country, as the UN Security Council remains paralysed between Russia's unwavering support of the regime and the United States and the European Union's reticence to intervene.
Thus, military intervention seems like the only option available, especially after Mr Al Assad confirmed his willingness to take his forceful and aggressive solution to the end.
"The United States, which is fully aware that the situation in Syria is the reflection of an international conflict that involves it directly, must make up its mind and let go of its flimsy hesitancy that has done nothing but exacerbate matters. The US must provide the Syrian opposition with the means to contain extremist groups on the ground and to compel the regime to step down," added the writer.
The Middle East region is an area of vital and strategic interests, especially for the US. Syria's collapse or the possible failure of its revolution would eventually throw it to Russian and Iranian influence, and that would prove severely damaging to Washington's interests.
Ideologues threaten Tunisia's open society
The model of Tunisia that we have known for the past few decades is in danger of disintegration at the hands of radical groups that don't believe in a culture of diversity, said Mohammed Obeid, a contributing columnist with the Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.
"Barely a day goes by in Tunisia without news of some aggression by a Salafist group against an institute, a university, a statue or some other cultural or historical landmark, all in the name of religion," he said.
It all seems like an attempt to import a foreign model of intellectual terrorism into the country that was a paragon of cultural openness in the Arab world. Tunisia's recently empowered Islamists behave as if they hold exclusive rights to social virtue and Islam.
"But their behaviour isn't an innocent call for a 'virtuous society'; it is a systematic intellectual liquidation of their opponents and a type of social terrorism. It is the ultimate battle to establish the real face of the Tunisian state."
The popular revolution in Tunisia catapulted political Islam groups to the forefront of the political scene. Although the ruling Muslim Brotherhood isn't mobilising the radical, aggressive groups, they are nonetheless guilty of condoning their behaviour. They seem to be willing to see the whole of Tunisia's community entangled in intellectual, political and religious conflicts in exchange for power.
US outreach does not help Palestinian cause
It is unlikely that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was delighted to learn of the unscheduled meeting between the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, in Riyadh earlier this week, said the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its Thursday editorial.
Mr Kerry, on his first diplomatic mission to the Middle East after taking office, didn't foresee a visit to Israel. By agreeing to an impromptu meeting with Mr Abbas, he further asserted Israel's diplomatic isolation and the shrinking intimacy between the two allies.
Mr Kerry isn't new to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He has previously voiced his support for the two-state solution and his objection to Israeli settlement policies.
But this US diplomatic rapprochement with Mr Abbas is alarming. "It could eventually compel President Abbas to freeze any Palestinian reconciliation efforts and thus, prevent a third intifada in the occupied territories," opined the paper.
"Mr Obama's expected visit to the occupied territories will not bring the peace process to life. And if it did, it would only be for the purpose of gaining time and selling illusions once again to the Palestinian Authority and to President Abbas," the paper concluded.
* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem