For example, Qatar, which had often lined up with Syria and its ally Iran in past regional disputes, has emerged as a tough critic of Syrian President Bashar Assad's crackdown. When the Syria unrest began, Qatari media largely avoided taking a position. But as the regime stepped up the violence, it turned against Assad.
"The Syrian regime must know that oppressing peoples will not eradicate them," Al-Arab editorialized last month. "The one who is eradicated is always the oppressor of the people." Qatar-based Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi demanded to know why the Ba'ath Party still rules Syria. "Who the hell is the committee of the Arab Ba'ath Party?" Qaradawi said. Assad is "held prisoner" by his political allies who fail to understand that "We live in the era of Arab revolutions," he added.
Qaradawi called Syria's religious endowment minister "a stupid fool" for accusing the imam of interfering in Syria's internal affairs by criticizing Assad.
Walid al-Omari, al-Jazeera's Israel/Palestinian bureau chief, said Assad was acting like "an outmoded ruler" who "has missed the chance to save himself and his land through real reforms."
When the Syria unrest began several months ago, Abdelbari Atwan, editor of the London-based daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, expressed hope that Assad would implement reforms. More recently, however, he expressed doubt that he would be willing to do so and criticized Assad for branding legitimate criticism the work of Israeli agents. "Those who are demanding reforms in Syria are not American and Zionist agents, as the regime and its mouthpieces are claiming in a deliberate smear attempt," Atwan wrote.
In Lebanon, the board chairman of Al-Akhbar, a pro-Syrian newspaper, suggested Assad was leading his nation toward a "civil war that could tear apart Syria and its people."
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