International attempts to broker a ceasefire in Syria during the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha continue, as the Syrian government refuses to relent before the opposition puts down its weapons.
“The regime intensifies its protection of the capital,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, reporting that the government has increased security around government buildings in Damascus for fear of attacks by opposition forces.
The Damascus province headquarters was reportedly encircled with concrete blocks and the road leading to the building partially closed, the daily reports.
Meanwhile, international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi told Al-Hayat ahead of his upcoming visit to Damascus that just reducing the death toll in Syria during the holiday could be considered “a very small step in the direction of a ceasefire.”
‘The truce proposed by Mr. Brahimi is the only single proposal currently on the table to deal with this crisis, in the absence of all other Arab and Western proposals’
But London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that Assad’s regime “may demand that the opposition put down its arms before agreeing to a holiday ceasefire.”
Syrian sources tell the daily that Brahimi has already managed to elicit a Turkish agreement to pressure opposition forces to accept a ceasefire for a few days, but the sources say the government will likely reject the plan.
“Yes to a ceasefire, no to stubbornness,” reads the headline of an op-ed by the daily’s editor-in-chief Abdel Bari Atwan.
“The truce proposed by Mr. Brahimi is the only single proposal currently on the table to deal with this crisis, in the absence of all other Arab and Western proposals,” writes Atwan. Therefore, all opportunities of success must be given to it for the simple reason that it will save the lives of at least 1,000 people, flesh and blood.”
“The problem is that some members of the Syrian opposition, especially outside Syria, have rushed to reject Brahimi’s truce, considering it helpful to the regime. They say it will give the regime an opportunity to catch its breath and rearm its forces. This hasty position did not change until the Syrian National Council announced its acceptance of the truce, perhaps being ordered to do so by some.”
Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat leads its coverage of the Syrian crisis by quoting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as saying Wednesday that “half of Syria is liberated.” Fabius told a gathering of Syrian oppositionists in Paris that Assad’s supporters are in defensive positions, whereas the liberated regions of the country are not being menaced by government forces.
‘With all due respect to the international envoy… Lakhdar Brahimi will not be able to change a thing on the ground unless the rebels manage to threaten Assad in Damascus… it is time to stop the lies of the intermediaries, delegates and promises’
Why did all the ideas of sending peacekeeping forces to Syria, raised three weeks ago, disappear, wonders A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahman Rahsed in an op-ed titled “Why are we lying to the Syrians?!”
“The strongest idea was to send Arab forces to fight Assad. It was proposed by Qatar and amplified by the Egyptian president and the Turkish prime minister, and then subsided. Was it a thought which came to mind before flying away? or simply excited rhetoric accompanying the Turkish ‘Justice and Development’ conference?”
“With all due respect to the international envoy… Lakhdar Brahimi will not be able to change a thing on the ground unless the rebels manage to threaten Assad in Damascus… it is time to stop the lies of the intermediaries, delegates and promises.”
Iranian-American pleads guilty to assassination attempt of Saudi ambassador
Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat highlights the guilty plea of Mansour Arbabsiar, an Iranian-American citizen who planned to hire Mexican assassins to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir.
The daily claims that if convicted, Arbabsiar, 54, may face 25 years in prison.
A used car salesman from Texas, Arbabsiar’s trial is expected to begin next January. He is accused of contacting a Mexican drug trafficker, who was in fact a US agent, and paying him $100,000 between July and August 2011 to carry out the assassination. That sum was only a down payment for a total of $1.5 million.