The looming prospect of an American attack against Syria continues to lead headlines in the Arab press, which highlights the Russian opposition to such a strike.
“The beginnings of an international coalition against Assad, and Russia ‘will never fight,’” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring a photo of a UN chemical weapons expert collecting samples in the Damascus suburb of Ma’adhamiyat A-Sham.
“Washington: We will retaliate against Assad, and the opposition warns of a ‘strike that will not topple him,’” reads the headline of the Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, which also features photos of UN experts on mission.
The paper quotes “knowledgeable Turkish sources” as saying that highly important meetings are taking place at the Izmir base, which will likely serve as the headquarters of the expected strike.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat also quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warning the West against an attack, but adding that Russia would not intervene, on either side.
But the editorial of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Tuesday asserts that Russia is unlikely to sit idly by while its regional ally is attacked.
“It is certain that Russia will not remain on the sidelines amid a strike on the Assad regime. Although the Russian options for responding are unclear, it is unlikely that it will respond militarily. Moscow is likely to react by breaking the campaign against Iran and removing itself from the economic sanctions imposed on Iran due to its nuclear program,” reads the editorial.
“The question today is, do President Assad and his allies in Tehran, Moscow, and the Dahiyeh in Beirut still hope to end the Syrian revolution? Do they expect the people to forget this death, destruction and displacement? The definite answer is that there is no hope of that. But the solution remains in Assad’s hands, through negotiating a solution that will lead to him stepping down and stopping the chain of death and destruction.”
Foreign intervention, claims Al-Hayat columnist Hazem Saghieh, remains the only viable way to end the bloodshed in Syria.
“Despite all reservations, intervention is today the only means of ending the accelerated implosion of the region, not the implosion of Syria alone. Given the inability of both sides to reach a decisive outcome… there are no alternatives left but foreign intervention,” writes Saghieh. “Nothing is worse than the current state of affairs and what it may lead to in Syria, but also in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and possibly Turkey as well.
“Intervention, paving the way to deposing the Assad regime, will allow — even if only in principle — for the beginning of a historic reconciliation between the Arab Levant and the West in general.”
Did Assad back down by letting UN observers into the affected areas? Certainly not, writes A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Tareq Homayed.
“Assad’s acquiescence to the entry of international observers is nothing but a new maneuver and lie, designed to ease the international pressure and allow Russia to procrastinate in the hope of thwarting the expected international intervention. The West must realize that Assad understands only the language of force, which demands not limited military intervention but military intervention that will leave Syria different than it was before, and the entire region as well.”
Israel, writes columnist Hilmi Moussa in the Lebanese daily A-Safeer, seems to have donned military uniform since the American change of tone on Syria.
“Today, Israel is more interested than at any time in the past in American military action,” he writes. “It would like this action not to be limited to Syria, but… to reach Iran.”