Wednesday’s papers: Threats surround Iran’s nuclear program, constitutional amendments ‘insufficient’

The fourth day of Eid proves to be somewhat of a slow news day, as indicated by the lack of focus in the headlines of the nation’s leading publications, several of which feature soccer and film stories on their front pages.

State-owned Al-Ahram leads with foreign news, its red headline proclaiming “warnings of war approach Iran.” The corresponding report details the ongoing controversy regarding Iran’s attempts to develop a nuclear program, which, according to Al-Ahram “has threatened the entire region with war.” This comes following the publication of an International Atomic Energy Agency confirming that Iran does indeed possess “military aspects which will facilitate its procurement of nuclear weapons in the near future.”

Ahram reports that the Israeli government’s initial reaction to the confirmation was to initiate a “military option,” despite a statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — published in the following paragraph of the article — in which he announced, “War is not a walk in the park … we have not decided on engaging in any military operation yet.” Israeli Minister of Foerign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman has called for “stricter sanctions” to be imposed on Iran, specifically on its oil industries and its central bank.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has responded to the unfolding controversy by reasoning that “Iran does not need a nuclear bomb to destroy the United States,” and warned that America would “regret” any attack waged against his country. He also pointed out the “obnoxiousness” and “hypocrisy” of the American government’s regulation of Iran’s nuclear ambitions while they continued to possess “thousand of nuclear warheads.”

Al-Ahram’s second lead story follows the headline “New, stringent, Arab League policies against Assad’s regime.” the paper claims it has obtained “exclusive” information the Arab League has informed the National Syrian Opposition Council that league members will vote on new policies next Saturday, “in light of the [ruling] regime’s lack of commitment to the … agreed upon plan.” Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Araby is scheduled to meet with a delegation of the Syrian Opposition Council “within two days” to further discuss the plan, as well as the current situation in Syria.

Al-Ahram’s sister publication, state-run Al-Akhbar, leads with local news, but gives more space to foreign affairs, specifically, the Syrian army’s “invasion” of the country’s fourth-largest city, Hama. Below the paper’s coverage of the growing crisis between Iran and Israel — identical to Al-Ahram’s report — Al-Akhbar reports on the “Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood Parties’ rejection of al-Selmy’s document,” referring to the list of “constitutional principles” written by Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy. The coalition of parties has scheduled a press conference on Wednesday, during which representatives will state all the reasons they find Selmy’s amendments insufficient, as explained in Al-Akhbar’s report by Ayman Nour, founder of the Al-Ghad Al-Gedeed (New Tomorrow) Party.

Meanwhile, independent dailies are more concerned with parliamentary election news. The Higher Electoral Committee’s announcement that “the general prosecution will supervise investigations into any individual accused of violating election regulations,” makes Al-Dostour’s headline. Al-Shorouk focuses on the same committee’s decision that there will be “no penalty, or punishment, for judges refusing to supervise the parliamentary elections.” Both papers report that the committee will review the final list of candidates on Friday, while the voter registration process for Egyptians living abroad is set to begin Wednesday.

Al-Shorouk also leads with a report on the “Friday of the One Demand” protest, scheduled for 18 November, which, according to the headline, has “not received unanimous support from political forces.” The paper claims that the National Movement for Change as well as the Free Egyptian and Egyptian Democratic parties have all announced their rejection of the protest, while the Popular Coalition and the Dignity parties are still “studying the matter” and will announce their decision within a few days’ time. The protest has been called for by a number of Islamic parties, in response to the aforementioned constitutional amendments.

Leftist party paper Al-Wafd leads with a claim by sources within the General Monetary Investigation that former First Lady Suzanne Mubarak managed to “hide 80 percent of the Mubarak’s fortune in the accounts of relatives,” before they could be frozen by authorities. The paper quotes the anonymous source, who breaks down the fortune in question as including, among other things, 20 companies and 15 villas, as well as a large percentage of shares owned by Alaa and Gamal Mubarak in companies in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands. Al-Wafd describes the former first lady’s actions as money laundering.

“American warns its expatriates from traveling to Egypt or residing in it during the elections,” reads the headline on independent daily Al-Tahrir’s front page. The United States Foreign Ministry has released a memo advising its citizens to avoid Egypt until March 2012, the paper reports, citing the general turbulence and instability of “the previous 9 months.” Al-Tahrir points out that this is only the most recent in a line of several similar memos released by the US government in the past few months.

Al-Tahrir’s report comes with a picture of perturbed-looking Obama, which perhaps would have been more appropriate for the news item featured on most of the days’ front pages — Obama’s embarrassing conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in which the two leaders were overheard complaining about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a private conversation, mistakenly broadcast to an audience of international journalists at last week’s G20 summit in Cannes, Sarkozy told Obama "I cannot bear Netanyahu, he's a liar," to which Obama remarked that he had to deal with the Israeli leader every day.


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