A brief ceasefire for East Ghouta

A Russian-backed ceasefire will apply today and for the next few days from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time in East Ghouta. It is aimed at facilitating aid deliveries and establishing a corridor to allow civilians to exit the area. In Afrin in northern Syria the fighting continues. Media see little chance of establishing a longer ceasefire as foreseen in last Saturday's UN resolution.

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Al-Araby Al-Jadeed (GB) /

Another Aleppo?

The daily paper Al-Arabi Al-Jadid is reminded of 2016 when Russian troops captured Aleppo with the help of Iranian militias. It examines the motives behind the current attacks:

“After forming an alliance with the Kurds the Americans have taken control of Al-Jazeera [Northern Mesopotamia], the oil-rich and fertile region in the east. A battle for spheres of influence is raging. ... And although Iran and Russia are allies they too are competing for certain areas, for example the coastal area with its military bases, and the border regions with Israel and East Ghouta. Civilian casualties play no role here. ... A swift international initiative is needed to stop the crimes against humanity that Russia is perpetrating in East Ghouta. Otherwise we'll see a repeat of what happened in Aleppo.”

Kommersant (RU) /

Ceasefire defies logic of war

Kommersant explains why it believes a ceasefire won't last:

“If Assad wants to stabilise and unite the country he can't tolerate having thousands of radical fighters right next to the government district. ... According to the logic of the war the opposition enclave on Damascus's doorstep must be liquidated. In a best-case scenario this process is peaceful: the defenders of East Ghouta and their families will be brought to Idlib province, as has often been the case with smaller enclaves. ... So far the garrison of East Ghouta has rejected this. Its enclave is de facto the last symbol of resistance against the 'dictatorial regime'. And a means for mobilising the global community and the emotional US president against Damascus by drawing attention to the civilian victims.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A resolution full of uncertainties

For Der Standard it's not at all clear what impact the UN Security Council's resolution will have:

“Russia insisted on keeping any formulations defining the precise timing of the start of a ceasefire out of the resolution text. And the restriction that terrorists may still be fought remains intact. The international community agrees that the IS and the pro-al-Qaeda groups should be excluded from ceasefire arrangements. That sound easy. But in East Ghouta, too, the fighting scene is confused and Assad and his regime can always use the argument that 'rebels' are cooperating with 'terrorists'. However, the rebels should be monitored just as closely to ensure that they allow all measures aimed at saving civilians: including the withdrawal of those who want to leave the rebel-held area.”

T24 (TR) /

US is just stalling

The US together with the Syrian Kurds controls the most important natural oil and gas fields east of the Euphrates. With the ceasefire it wants to prevent Assad and the Russians from driving them out of the region, writes news website T24:

“Whenever things are not going well for Washington, whenever it seems expedient to transfer certain groups from one place to another or gather them under one roof and let them fight it out with each other, whenever an educational or arms programme seems necessary, Washington starts yelling: 'ceasefire!', 'humanitarian aid!', 'negotiations!'. With this tactic it brings the fighting to a halt, creates a pause and tries to buy time for its representatives. Even the Geneva peace talks have mainly fulfilled this objective in the Syrian war up to now. The UN's calls for a ceasefire in East Ghouta are part of this calculation.”

Izvestia (RU) /

Terrorists in East Ghouta unacknowledged

The attacks in East Ghouta have a background that the West ignores, Izvestia writes:

“As a result of the agreements between Russia, Iran and Turkey one of four de-escalation zones has been set up in East Ghouta. That means combat operations should have come to a complete halt there. But that's not what happened. In addition to groups belonging to the armed opposition, the terrorists of the al-Nusra front have also dug themselves in there. Notwithstanding the announced ceasefire these fighters continue to terrorise the Syrian capital: various districts of Damascus including the neighbourhood of the Russian embassy have been targeted by grenade attacks. More and more people were dying because of the terrorists. The West didn't want to acknowledge this, preferring instead to accuse the Syrians of war crimes.”

Krytyka Polityczna (PL) /

US must accept Assad regime

There's only one way to end the war in Syria, US economist Jeffrey D. Sachs writes in Krytyka Polityczna:

“The US and its allies should face reality and accept the persistence of Assad's regime. ... The UN Security Council, backed by the US, Russia, and the other major powers, should step in with peacekeepers to restore Syrian sovereignty and urgent public services, while blocking attempts by the Assad regime to wreak vengeance against former rebels or their civilian supporters. Yes, the Assad regime would remain in power, and Iran and Russia would maintain their influence in Syria. But it would be an end to the US delusion that America can call the shots in Syria by choosing who rules and with which allies.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Force Assad to the negotiating table

If we want to see an end to the attacks diplomats have no choice but to sit down with Assad, Handelsblatt believes:

“Assad is responsible for one of the greatest war crimes in recent decades, with more than 400,000 deaths to his name. ... And yet, or precisely for this reason, Assad must be forced to the negotiating table. The offer must be this: an orderly political transition with a new constitution and elections in Syria. The key demand: he must end the violence and accept a full ceasefire and aid for the suffering population. Diplomacy can end a massacre. But it certainly won't be stopped by sending relief supplies to people who will then be massacred in turn.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Syria's airforce would be easy to disable

If the West wanted to it could both politically and militarily destroy the Syrian regime's jets and helicopters that are causing so much suffering in East Ghouta, The Daily Telegraph writes:

“If the watching world wished it, Assad's air force could be destroyed in its entirety within days. The United States is more than capable; as are Israel, France, Great Britain and other nations already operating in Syria. The regime would be unable to resist. Its allies would be left with no choice but to allow it. Only then, one can say with certainty, the bombs will stop falling on the civilians of East Ghouta.”

Yeni Akit (TR) /

You don't talk with the murderer of the century

The pro-government paper Yeni Akit is critical of the demands being made by certain circles in Turkey for the government to reach an agreement with Assad:

“In the name of our people and our state, our President Erdoğan has rightly said that Assad is the murderer of the century. ... What should our president or other state officials have to say about our state or our nation to someone who, in the eyes of all humanity, is a murderer? Those in favour of talks with Assad have abandoned their patriotic feelings towards our state and our nation, they are reckless in the extreme and are therefore unable to see what the majority of their society thinks about the Syrian war. ”

Právo (CZ) /

Western war reporting riddled with lies

The daily Právo bristles at what it considers the one-sided reporting of Western media:

“Syrian and Russian bombs are said to be wiping out entire families in Eastern Ghouta, targeting residential buildings and clinics and leaving nothing but civilian casualties in their wake. As if there weren't thousands of rebels, Islamic jihadists or terrorist groups there. ... Such reporting is reminiscent of the less than objective news that came out of Aleppo. Now, as then, the West is uncritically disseminating news, photos and videos from areas where no independent reporters can verify the contents. Anyone who accepts such half-truths as 'the truth' shouldn't be surprised if people are increasingly turning to fake news.”