Following the defection by a Syria fighter pilot to Jordan, American officials believe Bashar Assad’s inner circle have been making exit plans, write Ruth Sherlock, Suha Maayeh and Peter Foster in the Daily Telegraph.
The defection yesterday of Col Hassan Merei al-Hamade raised opposition hopes that it could provoke the start of the exodus.He was granted political asylum by Jordan only hours after landing his jet at the King Hussein air base in Mafraq, taking off his air force tags and kneeling on the tarmac in prayer. The air force is considered fiercely loyal to the Assad regime and opposition activists said the escape of Colonel al-Hamade represented a sign that its growing international isolation was starting to test the military’s loyalties.
Upheaval in Syria and Egypt has left Hezbollah with few allies - and arms suppliers - in the region, writes Paul Salem in The Daily Star.
Within Lebanon itself, Hezbollah is still strong, but its comfort level has declined. In May 2008, it demonstrated its domestic dominance by taking over the capital, Beirut. In January 2011, it brought down then-premier Saad Hariri’s government and installed one more to its liking. But, in just the last few weeks, parts of the Sunni north have erupted in armed defiance of Hezbollah and the government that it dominates, and are openly supporting the Syrian rebels.
The West should support the Islamists against the generals if it wants to promote democracy in Egypt, argues The Economist.
After 18 months of messy progress towards democracy, the army seems determined to reverse the march to freedom, or at least to put a heavy brake on it. If Egypt goes wrong, then democracy’s progress elsewhere in the Arab world will be far slower. Egypt is not, however, doomed to return to dictatorship. Turkey, where the army has reached an accommodation with moderate Islamists, points to a peaceful way out. And the West can help by making it clear that democratically elected politicians, even Islamist ones, rank above generals.
Jerusalem Post: Putin wants to show he is key player in region
New York Times: Iran Talks: Across the Table, a Wary Stalemate
Washington Post: An embassy asks, Drones or diplomacy?
Wall Street Journal: Mystery Ship Underlines Pain Tehran Faces Over Sanctions