Syria press gives peace envoy full marks

The Syrian press on Thursday praised the visit of international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who arrived in Damascus Monday after a falling out with President Bashar al-Assad that lasted nearly a year.

Brahimi's "visit to Syria began on a good note. This is because of favourable changes on the international and regional planes, and at home in terms of popular sentiment and military developments," said the ruling party's mouthpiece Baath newspaper.

The media's portrayal of Brahimi has changed radically since his last visit in December 2012, when he was described as "an ageing tourist" and "a false mediator".

The barrage of criticism came after Brahimi had called for "real change" in Syria, and for all powers to be handed over to a transitional government.

The Baath newspaper showered praise in its Thursday edition.

"Experienced in Africa and Asia, the diplomat and international envoy has become an expert in such (difficult) missions and his mission in Syria will give him even more experience," it said.

However it added some caveats.

"We hope this mission will make him more objective, more patriotic and more Arab, after he sees all the mercenaries, takfiri (extremist Sunni) gangs and terrorists backed by well-known countries," it said.

The Syrian regime has systematically refused to recognise the existence of a home-grown revolt against Assad, describing the rebellion as a plot backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the West.

Before meeting Assad on Wednesday, Brahimi had made a conciliatory statement.

"The efforts being made for the Geneva conference to be held are focused on finding the way for the Syrians themselves to meet and to agree on solving the crisis as quickly as possible," he had said.

Meanwhile, government-owned Al-Thawra newspaper lashed out against Riyadh and Ankara, key backers of the revolt.

"Saudi Arabia and Turkey are hindering Brahimi's mission by... refusing to stop supporting terrorism," said the paper.