In a pure Sarkozy-style reflex, the French press celebrated the agreement inked between the Arab League and Syria as a concession made by Bashar al-Assad. Similarly, two days earlier, it had applauded the Russian draft resolution submitted to the Security Council as a retreat by Vladimir Putin.

In reality, the Russian draft is a copy of the text put forward by Russian-Chinese before the veto, while the Arab League Protocol takes up the same proposal made by Syria before the sanctions. Neither the Russians nor the Syrians have lost an inch of ground. It is rather the Western powers that are now willing to consider a text they rejected yesterday, and the Arab League that is willing to lift its sanctions and to sign a protocol it wouldn’t even hear of so far.

The Gulf press is no exception. It also defines the signing of this Protocol as a victory for the Gulf Cooperation Council (whose crowned heads are currently meeting in Riyadh) and attributes the "Syrian shift" to Russian pressure.

The Beirut Daily Star gives a rundown of the Syrian economic crisis: the pound has lost 25% of its value, and the GNP fell by 20%. However, it fails to mention the even more disastrous impact of the crisis on some coastal states, including Jordan. Having praised the devastating effects of economic sanctions against Damascus, many journalists are now at a loss to explain why the Arab League has suddenly backtracked.

The main event is not the green light given to foreign observers - they are already inside the country - but the lifting of economic sanctions.

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