Middle East

Press divided over Syria's Arab League suspension

Demonstrators protesting against Syria"s President Bashar al-Assad gather in Hula, near Homs
Image caption Protests against President Bashar al-Assad have been growing

Middle Eastern papers generally welcome the Arab League's decision to suspend Syria for its continued use of force against protesters, but some media outlets in Iran and China are sceptical about Western influence over the move.

Several Arab papers say the decision will isolate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad diplomatically, and that the government now has no option but to conform to the League's demands.

However other Middle Eastern papers, as well as commentators in the state-owned press in China, are concerned that the resolution may be used as a pretext for military intervention. Some fear the suspension may aggravate the situation. Syria's state newspaper is defiant, branding the suspension as "an American decision".

Editorial in Jordan's Al-Dustur:

"If the Syrian regime really wants to save Syria and get out of the crisis it is facing, it has no alternative but to implement the Arab initiative fully… Any deviation from the Arab initiative means opening the door to disaster."

Badr Bin Sa'ud in Saudi Ukaz:

"Syria has received an unexpected blow and the Arab League has abandoned its long held attitude of just sitting by as a spectator."

Editorial in Lebanon's The Star:

"Judging by past experience, the Arab League plan is not going to be implemented by powerbrokers in Damascus. Deadlines, just like condemnations and sanctions, do not appear to register in the consciousness of Assad or those around him. It is high time a robust demand is issued with the threat of reprise [sic] should that demand fail to be met."

Dawud al-Basri in Kuwait's Al-Siyassah:

"The Arab League, in its historical step, has opened the doors to the end of the Syrian regime and saved the Syrian people… The ball is now in the court of the international community and the protection of the Syrian people has become an international and humanitarian duty."

Hojjatollah Judaki in Iran's Sharq:

"The current situation shows that Arabs will not be prepared to compromise with Syria so as to prevent the crisis spreading to their countries, particularly after Syria accepted the Arab plan but refused to implement it. Recalling Arab ambassadors from Damascus will make Syria's position more difficult in the international arena.''

Karim Ja'fari in Iran's E'temad:

"Despite all the propaganda by the Arab media, the Syrian government and the army are still powerful, and they have powerful and influential allies… The Arab League is not in a position to influence Syria's fate."

Talal Awkal in Palestinian Al-Ayyam:

"In the wake of the Arab League's decision… the Syrian regime has lost its Arab legitimacy… This situation will give the public the courage to take to the streets and challenge [the government]".

Muhyi al-Din al-Muhammad in Syria's Tishrin:

"The decision to suspend Syria's membership from the Arab League… was not an Arab decision at all. It was an American decision."

Abd-al-Bari Atwan in pan-Arab Al-Quds Al-Arabi:

"The resolution… opens the door for external military intervention in Syria under the pretext of protecting civilians… the most important lesson which the Syria regime learnt from the Libyan experience is that if any military intervention is launched against it, it will have to fight to the death."

Li Yida and Jiao Xiang in China's Renmin Ribao:

"The Arab League does not want to completely fall out with Syria. This has made its efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis within an 'Arab framework' ineffective, resulting in external forces carrying out interference in the region again."

Li Yudong in China's Guangming Ribao:

"External forces are applying political pressure and economic sanctions and even preparing for military intervention, so the confrontation between the Syrian government and the opposition may be further exacerbated."

Maksim Yusin in Russia's Kommersant:

"Bashar al-Asad is left almost totally isolated diplomatically… Moscow and Beijing have the right of veto in the UN Security Council, which defends Damascus from full-scale international sanctions. But those measures that the West and Arab countries will take may be enough to ruin the Syrian economy."

Mehmet Y Yilmaz in Turkey's Hurriyet:

"Out of 21 Arab countries, only Lebanon and Yemen voted against Syria's suspension… I believe it would be good for those who give advice to Syria about 'human rights and democracy' to take a look at themselves."

Commentary in Pakistan's Nawa-i-Waqt:

"The Muslim community wants the Arab League to escape US clutches and withdraw the decision after talks with the Syrian president, otherwise the US will continue to create chaos in Muslim countries one after another."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.