Middle East

Arab League Syria plan leaves regional media sceptical

Anti-Assad protester
Image caption Protesters have called on Bashar Al-Assad to stop the bloodshed and step down

Middle Eastern media are sceptical about Wednesday's announcement by the Arab League that Damascus had accepted its proposal to end violence that has plagued the country for the past eight months.

In Syria itself, a ruling party newspaper expresses relief that the spectre of foreign intervention has been kept at bay. This view is broadly echoed by other voices in the region, but some warn that the only way for Damascus to solve the crisis through Arab mediation - rather than Western intervention - is to move swiftly to implement the deal.

However, with more deaths of protesters reported even as the proposal was being unveiled, many commentators express the fear that Syria's acceptance of the plan is just an attempt by President Bashar al-Assad to buy more time.

MUHAMMAD AL-KHIDR IN SYRIA'S AL-BA'TH

The agreement between Syria and the Arab League ends a painful phase that the Syrians have been through in the past eight months. More importantly, it spares the homeland the possibility of international interference that was gradually emerging ... the Syrians realise that Syria is the main winner in this deal.

TARIQ AL-HAMID IN PAN-ARAB AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT

Those following the Syrian situation should ask themselves whether the aim of the proposed Arab initiative is to save Al-Assad's regime or to safeguard Syria and protect the people from Al-Assad's killing machine? We hope the proposal will be implemented in earnest, including ending the violence and the killing of protesters, the release of prisoners and the removal of armed protests from the cities.

It suffices to say that even as [Qatari Foreign Minister] Hamad Bin-Jasim was making an announcement that Bashar al-Assad had agreed to the Arab initiative, some 24 Syrians were killed by the regime's forces.

ABLA AL-RUWAINI IN EGYPT'S AL-AKHBAR

No one is asking Nato or any other foreign power to interfere to settle the situation in Syria. But the Syrian regime has to realise the size of the catastrophe and stop its insanity.

EDITORIAL IN SAUDI AL-WATAN

Some analysts fear the Syrian acceptance is just a manoeuvre to buy time.

They realise Syria is run by a military mind that is unable to comprehend an immediate cessation of violence. Reaching an agreement is not a guarantee it will be implemented.

EDITORIAL IN QATAR'S AL-RAYAH

The Syrian regime must realise that its acceptance of the Arab plan to end the crisis is linked with strict implementation of the articles of the plan... as these steps can smooth the way for national dialogue that includes all sects of the Syrian people and their representatives in the National Transitional Council. The Syrian regime has no way out except through commitment to this plan which keeps the issue an Arab one and away from internationalisation. Any attempt to avoid the commitment or buy time will ruin the regime and take things back to square one.

RAFIQ KHURI IN LEBANON'S AL-ANWAR

The task for the Syrian regime is… to immediately halt all acts of violence, protect civilians, withdraw all armed forces from cities and residential areas, release detainees and open the way for the Arab League and the media to monitor developments on the ground. This should be followed by dialogue on the democratic transition of power.

The opposition's task is to stop chanting slogans and seize the opportunity to negotiate. The Arab League's task is to follow up the implementation of the agreement and seek other options if there are any obstacles on the way. The task for the regional and international powers is to support the Arab solution and prevent any agendas to abuse any loopholes in the Arab solution and any rush to an international solution.

MEHMET ALI BIRAND IN TURKEY'S POSTA

Today Al-Assad seems to be in control of the situation as he seems to have managed to unite his supporters. Even Ankara, which until a short time ago was saying Al-Assad 'will fall in a few weeks', is now talking about a period of several years. In short, it seems the calculations have been wrong.

FEHIM TASTEKIN IN TURKEY'S RADIKAL

At this critical juncture, Damascus has accepted the Arab League plan for a way out. From the perspective of the dissidents' front, the plan will give Al-Assad time. On the other hand, the plan (if it is not implemented) will remove any Arab obstacles to a possible foreign intervention. It would be impossible to intervene without the approval of the Arab League.

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