As Syria dissolves into conflict, barbs fly

Syria, as seen from the Middle East's press

Michael Fitzgerald By Michael Fitzgerald

In Syria, the al-Assad regime seems to be unraveling. The country has devolved into a full-scale bloodbath. Fighting between Syria’s government and the Free Syrian Army has left hundreds of civilians displaced or dead in the streets.

A girl stands on debris in Homs, Syria (Reuters, Yazen Homsy)

The fighting has obliterated the peacemaking efforts of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who quit his role as envoy on Thursday.

Coverage of Syria is everywhere. At Latitude News we look for perspectives that U.S. readers might not come across. Here are some of the most interesting stories we found when reading the Middle Eastern press:

  • In Al-Akhbar English‘s aptly named “Angry Corner,” the progressive Lebanese publication rages at the Western press’s coverage of Syria. As usual, “ill-informed foreign editors and correspondents and political cowardice turn American media into tools of US foreign policy,” fumed writer As’ad AbuKhalil. But he also lambasts British media as he walks through 22 reasons why the U.S. and British press have coughed up hairball coverage of the Syrian conflict.
  • Jordan has shut down a transit facility—apartment clusters that have served as makeshift camps for thousands of Syrian refugees— reports the Jordan Times. The paper says shuttering the facility marks a shift in how the country will handle the reported 140,000 Syrian refugees now living in Jordan. And there are, no doubt, more to come.
  • In a piece sure to roil American foreign policy watchers, Lebanon’s The Daily Star went to Baghdad to cover how the Syrian conflict is revitalizing al-Qaeda. The paper’s report looks at how Sunni Muslim militants in Iraq are going over the border to battle Assad, gaining military experience and funding.
  • But Ali Ibrahim of Asharq Al-Awsat’ (the Arabic daily based in London) argues the western media is wrong to portray Syrian rebels as Islamists. He says the rebels began to arm themselves when the Syrian Army started using bullets to stifle peaceful protests. The influence of the jihadists, he says, is slim.
  • No matter who is doing the shooting, for ordinary Syrians daily life is a struggle, reports Al-Akhbar English from Damascus. Nonetheless, people are trying to lead normal lives, despite bullets flying overhead.