UN launches new Syria initiative

For the first time in two years the UN Security Council agreed on Monday on a statement on Syria and backed a proposal by UN mediator Staffan de Mistura which foresees the establishment of working groups to develop a political solution to the conflict. Some commentators applaud the move, saying it will finally launch a dialogue between the conflicting parties. Others suspect the UN is trying to conceal its own powerlessness with the initiative.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

UN breaks its silence

For the first time in at least two years the UN Security Council has been able to agree on a declaration on Syria's political future, the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung comments with approval: "At least the silence has been broken now. … The declaration does not offer a new peace plan or convene a peace conference. The positions are far too polarised for us to expect a swift end to the horrendous violence in Syria. But it would be irresponsible in view of the more than 250,000 dead and millions of refugees to leave any strategy untried. In addition to an agreement on a political transition a prerequisite for peace is the participation of those states in the region that have become embroiled in the civil war as well as the willingness of the armed parties on both sides in Syria to end the fighting. The UN's plan is a first step towards initiating dialogue between the relevant parties."

Aamulehti (FI) /

A step in the right direction

The liberal daily Aamulehti takes a carefully optimistic view of UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura's Syria plan: "Solving the problems that have caused people to flee from Syria is easier said than done. ... A step in the right direction was taken on Monday, however, when the UN Security Council announced it had agreed on a new peace plan for Syria. It's still too early to talk of a historic breakthrough, nonetheless the first Syria resolution by the Security Council in two years is cause for hope. What matters is that the plan was worked out by all the Security Council's permanent members - both the Western countries and Russia. The plan involves a transitional government with full executive powers. Who would take part in such a government? That's one of the problems yet to be worked out."

Le Monde (FR) /

Security Council hiding its powerlessness

The only thing the UN Security Council's declaration does is hide the body's powerlessness in the Syria conflict, the centre-left daily Le Monde criticises: "The UN Security Council has adopted a declaration in support of the peace initiative proposed by UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura. Its goal: to conceal its helplessness in view of the terrible repetition of the chemical weapons massacre in Ghouta (1,500 dead), which took place almost exactly two years ago and almost in the same place - also during the visit of UN representatives to Damascus. But how much is such superficial unity worth when the West has never seriously considered the slightest concrete measure to end the attacks with barrel bombs, and Washington has allowed Assad to cross the 'red line' on chemical weapons?  Hardly more than a peace initiative by Russia and Iran, the principal supporters of the regime in Damascus, who reaffirmed on Tuesday that only the 'Syrian people' can decide on keeping Bashar al-Assad in power."