Syrian Conflict: Sept. 16 Digest of Middle Eastern Editorials

The following is a round-up of editorial comment from the Middle East as the U.S. and its allies discuss a plan to eliminate chemical weapons held by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad following its alleged use of them against civilians last month.

*Saudi Arabia

Arab News

“There is nothing in my vocabulary that can express my rage over the weak-kneed response from U.S. President Barack Obama to back down from staging a strike against Bashar Assad’s murderous forces,” columnist Sabria S. Jawhar writes in the English language, Jeddah-based paper.

“Obama says the use of chemical weapons against civilians is a red line. When the Syrian government crosses that red line, Obama dithers about for a bit and then asserts with the mighty authority of the United States to initiate precision strikes as punishment.”

“Obama came on strong only to kowtow to Russia, which has absolutely no authority to participate in mediating disarmament of Syria’s stockpile of weapons in the first place. By putting his initial desire to stage air strikes on the back burner, Obama has allowed the Syrian Army to gain momentum.”

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*Israel

Israel Hayom

“At this point, when Obama has sparse support in the Washington diplomatic battle and the agreement with Russia raises more suspicion than hope, his words are interpreted as a manic effort to cover up his weak handling of Bashar el-Assad, and not a sure-handed and principled assault against Hassan Rohani,” Dan Margalit writes in the privately owned Hebrew-language paper.

“In these circumstances, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is coming into play. It’s been neglected, but not entirely, because it’s become the oil that greases the wheels of the West in the region. The result of the agreement with Syria -- especially if it develops skin and veins -- will be to increase pressure on Israel to make gestures to the Palestinians. Not because the issue is important to them, not even to America. But it’s almost critical to cooperation between Obama and Europe.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at jferziger@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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