Hopes of a ceasefire in Syria

The fighting that has gone on for almost five years in Syria is to come to an end within a week. The foreign ministers of the contact group on Syria agreed the deal as well as humanitarian aid and the resumption of the Geneva talks at their meeting in Munich. Is there a chance of peace in the war-torn country?

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Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

The Stalingrad of the Middle East

The proposal for a ceasefire has little chance of success, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore fears:

“The war in Syria has taken on apocalyptic proportions. It has become the biggest humanitarian disaster in the Mediterranean area since World War II, and the battle for Aleppo has turned into a Middle Eastern Stalingrad. … What chance does the Russia proposal for a ceasefire have in this situation? Not much. Turkey's President Erdoğan has said Ankara is running out of patience. Turkey is not only struggling to cope with the refugees but also realises that the EU and Nato's assurances can no longer prevent Aleppo's fall. For Erdoğan, the Saudis and the Gulf monarchies that were hoping to see the end of Assad and the jihadists, this is a devastating defeat. … If Saudi Arabia intervenes Russian Prime Minister Medvedev has said it could be the start of a new world war.”

Le Jeudi (LU) /

The West failed in Syria

The West's outrage over the Russian airstrikes in Aleppo is hypocritical, the centre-left weekly Le Jeudi criticises:

“The Islamic State is in the process of losing the war, and all of a sudden alarm bells have gone off. Suddenly the civilians who are fleeing Aleppo are in the forefront. As if everyone had forgotten who is responsible for the chaos in Syria. If Merkel, Erdoğan and the West say they’re scandalized, it’s because they've realized that Russia’s involvement marks a real turning point in the war - the point where they have lost control, and which reveals the failure of the West’s stance, focused as it was solely on toppling the regime. This stance is largely responsible for the current escalation in the war, and thus also for the human tragedy it has caused.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Aleppo a repeat of Sarajevo

With its hesitant stance Washington has left itself with no options in Syria, the centre-left daily The Guardian observes:

“The large reality is that US options have been severely cut short by Russia’s military involvement in Syria. Any notion of a western-protected 'no-fly zone' in northern Syria, aimed at creating a safe haven for civilians and rebels alike, has been made all but impossible. Such a thing could have made sense earlier in the war, but at this stage it would mean risking a wider military confrontation with Russia - which the Obama administration understandably cannot contemplate. What is unfolding in Aleppo may soon resemble the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s – only this time with no relief in sight, and with much wider refugee consequences, including in Europe. If ever there was a symbol of western failure in Syria, this is it.”

De Morgen (BE) /

No one stopping Assad and Putin

The Assad regime and Russia are creating new realities in Syria and Europe and the US are standing by helplessly, the centre-left daily De Morgen complains:

“It won't be long before Putin demands the lifting of the sanctions against Russia in exchange for a little less chaos and fewer Syrian refugees. And Europe's ambitions in this game? Minimal. … Europe and the US have resigned themselves to playing a secondary role and focussing on eliminating the IS in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Obama and Hollande want us to believe that the Islamic State is the biggest evil in the region and are keeping mum about the mass destruction wreaked by Assad's government troops. In short: Assad and Putin are crushing the Syrian opposition while we bombard the IS. But what about the Syrians' yearning for freedom, democracy and decent treatment?”

Today's Zaman (TR) /

Divided Berlin as a model for Syria

The war in Syria must end with the country being split in two, the liberal Islamic daily Today's Zaman writes:

“It is far too late for Nato and the US to act now that Russia firmly squats on Syrian ground, with the memory of Iraqi and Libyan experiences, determined to allow no repetition. ... The idea is noble, and Nato must increase its role, but it should be strictly a humanitarian one, with a key element of kindly relaying to Moscow that if it 'sides with the devil, it will also be struck.' In other words, with an end to human suffering as top priority, a new mindset must be based on an inevitable partition of Syria, whose fate must be determined after a transition period as a 'joint protectorate of the USA and Russia' (excluding Assad as an option) - an expanded model of Berlin after WW2.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Rebels have failed to provide alternative to Assad

The Syrian rebels won't get any help from the US, the liberal business daily Handelsblatt concludes:

“Unlike Assad's allies the rebels' allies are not willing to intervene directly in the war - at least not without US backing. US support for the rebels was half-hearted from the outset. All Washington and Moscow effectively agreed on was a division of labour. US fighter jets would bomb the Islamic State's terrorist warriors in the east of the country while the Russians focused their attacks on the west and the north. Those who see this as a betrayal of the Syrian freedom fighters by America overlook the fact that the rebels have failed to provide an attractive alternative to the Assad regime for those areas under their control. Instead the virtuous terror of the Islamists rules there too - and not just in the IS caliphate.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Aleppo bombings win-win for Putin

The daily paper Aftonbladet explains why the Russian attacks on Aleppo work only to Russia's advantage:

“Putin claims to be bombarding the IS but it is the inhabitants of Aleppo who are being killed. He knows what he's doing. He wants to destroy the Syrian opposition. Russia's leader knows exactly what problems the refugees are creating in Europe and wants to re-establish his presence in the Middle East. He wants to take control of Syria. It works to his advantage that Europe's far-right parties are gaining in popularity. … Russia can't be held responsible for the civil war in Syria but Putin is exploiting it and he has no qualms about bombing if it suits Russia's interests. A turning point is approaching in Syria's civil war: the Russian fighter jets and tanks will ensure that Assad's regime soon has Aleppo completely encircled.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Peace talks pointless for now

Resuming the peace talks is pointless as long as the Syrian troops continue to bomb civilians in Aleppo with Russia's help, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger believes:

“When the foreign ministers convene on Thursday in the 'Vienna format' the goal must be to make the Kremlin guarantee that the attacks on civilian areas will stop and that it will force its protégé Assad to open up the circumvallations for humanitarian aid. Otherwise a return to the negotiating table in Geneva is pointless. Kerry has said we will soon find out whether Moscow is interested in serious peace talks or not. But for now he is keeping mum about what Washington plans to do if the answer is no.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Only Obama can stop Putin in Syria

The US must now step in to prevent the Russian Syria offensive from causing a full-blown humanitarian disaster in Aleppo, the centre-left daily De Volkskrant demands:

“Who can stop Russia and Iran from creating a humanitarian and geopolitical hell in Syria that only Assad and the IS will survive? Only the Americans. The US and Russia had agreed on a ceasefire in Syria that was to mark the start of a diplomatic process in Geneva. While the US pushed its allies to curtail their support for the anti-Assad fighters, the opposing side stepped up its attacks. ... In the fight for Aleppo Obama must now draw a red line. If after Ukraine he allows himself to be faced with a fait accompli in Aleppo too, the city could also become the burial place of his foreign policy.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Moscow wants to eliminate Syrian opposition

Russia has only one goal in backing the Assad regime in the fight for Aleppo, writes the liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht:

“The attack will have a decisive impact on relations between the West and Russia, which has interfered greatly in Syria with its airstrikes. If Assad's opponents who have the city under their control since 2012 are beaten no one else will be left in the Syria conflict except the Assad regime and ISIS. Any hope of a negotiated solution in which the Syrian opposition is also involved will disappear. And precisely that is Russia's goal. The real reason why Russia got involved militarily four months ago.”