Arabic press roundup: The ceasefire in Syria
Following the US and Russian-backed Syrian ceasefire on Friday night, Middle East Eye reviews reactions in the Arabic press to this major development in the five-year war.
Al Jazeera Arabic
A news piece focused on a call by France for an immediate meeting of the Syria Action Group to discuss repeated violations of the ceasefire, especially the attacks on the Free Syrian Army. Those attacks, the article said, are a sign that Russia's air strikes remain ongoing. The piece also mentioned that Russia has discouraged all parties to the ceasefire from rushing to accuse others of ceasefire violations.
The pro-Hezbollah newspaper in Lebanon quoted Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad on the ceasefire, "Al Assad: We are working to ensure the success of the ceasefire." The article, based on an interview for Dutch TV, portrayed him as "strong" and "confident". Assad said that the "terrorists" have violated the truce many times and that his army has refrained from retaliating in order "to protect the ceasefire agreement". According to the piece, Assad was willing to amnesty the rebels fighting against him.
The Saudi-owned newspaper highlighted the Syrian conflict from various angles. The paper ran an article that adopted the view of the Syrian opposition, which claimed that the Syrian government forces had blocked aid convoys near Damascus despite the ceasefire. It also published another piece about the death of a senior Hezbollah commander in Syria - describing his death as a "blow" for the Iranian-backed militia. The article detailed the involvement of Hezbollah in Syria and highlighted the many losses it has faced.
The London-based Palestinian journalist, Abdel Bari Atwan, refused to label the agreement a "ceasefire" and suggested instead that it be described as "ending hostilities". He said the agreement was the outcome of secret Russian-US manoeuvring. This was followed by another article in which he concluded that Russia is seeking to divide Syria in a pact with the United States.
Just before the ceasefire took effect, the London-based Arab journalist and newspaper columnist, Abdel Wahab Badrakhan, criticised it, accusing the United States of "handing over Syria to the Russians and Iranians". He further suggested that the policies of the US government in Syria are boosting Iran’s role, which is destabilising many Arab countries. Badrakhan considered the American silence on the Russian-Iranian role in Syria as a "conspiracy" and a recklessness that only harms its traditional allies - Turkey and Saudi Arabia.