Arabic newspapers from London to Saudi Arabia talk of "catastrophe" in the Iraqi city of Falluja, where a full-scale assault led by US troops began on Monday.
At least one Jordanian editorial is sympathetic towards Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's "painful" decision to declare a state of emergency and give the go-ahead for the assault, but condemnation - mixed with disappointment in Iraq's interim government - is by far the most common reaction.
Few commentators doubt that the assault will be decided in the US-led forces' favour.
Beside the human catastrophe in making Falluja a ghost city, one should wonder at this point whether there is any difference between what the US forces claim to stand for and what former President Saddam Hussein stood for.
Commentary in Qatar's al-Watan
Undoubtedly, the Iraqi government is benefiting by declaring a state of emergency in Falluja and other towns which the US forces listed as areas to be "cleaned-up"... In our opinion, the contradiction here lies in the fact that the Iraqi march towards democracy, which Bush and Allawi are trying to propagate, has begun with a state of emergency.
Commentary in Lebanon's al-Nahar
The Iraqi government has finally taken the painful decision to wage a total war to recover the cities even when they are ghost cities already destroyed by missiles and air strikes. This is surely because it cannot afford to engage itself in a half-battle, nor compromise itself by starting negotiations during the attack. This means that the next few days will be catastrophic beyond our imagination.
Editorial in Jordan's al-Dustur
If the Iraqi interim leader really wants to restore security, he should have improved the humanitarian and political situation and make tolerance his slogan. That is of course if he was really seeking to unite his people and establish true democracy. However, we now doubt that this will ever happen after he gave the green light for the destruction of Falluja.
London-based Arabic newspaper al-Arab al-Alamiyah
Perhaps there is no need to wonder what will be the outcome of the confrontation: Falluja fighters stand no chance in defeating the strongest army in history.
Commentary in Lebanon's al-Safir
The American forces are expected to increase their barbaric acts in the hope of finishing off once and for all the Iraqi resistance so that they can have peace and realize their aims, foremost of which is the rearrangement of the country in such a way that would enable their new allies to hide behind "a false legitimacy" which they will use to open a new phase in which the final word will be that of ruling gang in Tel Aviv.
Editorial in Saudi Arabia's al-Watan
There is no rationale whatsoever in the invasion of Falluja. The attack on Falluja is basically to expresses schadenfreude at the Iraqis and get even with them... However, since we are in the holy month of Ramadan, we would like to say here that such an aggression against the innocents will not be accepted by God, and that there is another superpower up there that is monitoring the developments.
London-based Arabic newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi
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