There was unbridled enthusiasm in the Chinese press following Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s apparent acceptance of the peace plan proposed by the UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan. There was also a warm welcome for it in Russia. Commentators spoke of “hope” being reignited and a growing momentum for peace.
But Turkey’s newspapers urged caution, with one paper believing the government is playing for time.
Elsewhere, papers in Lebanon criticised Mr Assad’s visit to the shattered Baba Amr district of Homs, with one painting him as a defiant Arab conqueror, like “Saladin at the gates of Jerusalem”.
State-owned China Daily
“The Western powers have finally come to terms with the reality that their aggressive approach toward the Syrian crisis will never win broad international support. To pave the way for peace in Syria, the international community should continue to build on the good momentum that is developing. It is hoped the Arab League summit… will also send out positive signals and add to the growing momentum for a peaceful solution.”
Ruan Zongze in China Daily
“Hope has been reignited after the international community was divided… China should continue supporting Annan’s work… More Chinese envoys and delegations should be sent to conduct further mediation.”
State-owned People’s Daily
“China and Russia have consistently supported a peaceful resolution of the Syria issue and are firm supporters of Annan’s peace mission… It is hoped that the parties concerned in Syria will co-ordinate with Annan’s mediation efforts to create the conditions to promote a political resolution of the Syrian crisis.”
Maksim Yusin in business daily Kommersant
“If Damascus had kept resisting, the Kremlin could have turned away from the Syrian ally that has been creating a lot of trouble for Moscow on the international arena. But Bashar al-Assad chose to show flexibility, which will at least allow him to play for time… However, the actual implementation of the peace plan is still a while away. Instead of negotiating a ceasefire, government forces and the opposition are fighting fiercely.”
“The Syrian government’s approval of Annan’s plan is a step on the right path towards a sound political solution that would keep Syria away from the risk of slipping into a civil war.”
Rajih al-Khuri in Lebanon’s Al-Nahar
“President Bashar al-Assad’s visit [on Wednesday] to inspect Baba Amr will make no change regarding the pace of the conflict that pushes Syria towards civil war, while the world is still watching… Assad wanted to send a message to the Baghdad Arab summit to the effect that the ‘Arab initiative’ is something of the past.”
“Bashar al-Assad entered Baba Amr like a conqueror, as if he were Saladin standing at the gates of Jerusalem… It simply looks as if he came from another country to watch the tragedy of a city whose sole mistake was saying no to dictatorship, eternal presidency, tyranny and oppression… He came to say to the world that the open war against the Syrian people will continue as long as these people are left alone due to blind, unfair international interests.”
Semih Idiz in Milliyet
“From Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s statements, we know that Ankara does not ‘approve’ of this process. Assad’s approval of the Annan plan has wrong-footed Ankara.”
Ibrahim Karagul in Yeni Safak
“Even if it approves the Annan plan, Syria will continue the operations. It will not hesitate to play dangerous cards like Lebanon, because its ‘yes’ decision is only to gain time. Even if it envisages a ceasefire and is seen as a first step to a solution, the Annan plan, which Russia and China also found agreeable, will turn out to be an ineffective option after a while.”
Deniz Ulke Aribogan in Aksam
“The Syrian government’s approval of the Annan plan is a serious step. However, being able to implement this plan is as important as approving it. Many believe that the Syrian government’s plan is to gain time while approving the proposals. We will wait and see. If Syria does not act according to the plan, the situation will become much worse.”