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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 April, 2005, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Mixed press for Syria withdrawal

On the day Syrian forces finally leave Lebanon, commentators in that country welcome the withdrawal.

In contrast, Syria's state-controlled press defiantly defends Damascus's record in Lebanon, and offers a continued common front against Israel.

In Israel, the withdrawal has awakened fears of possible upheaval in its northern neighbour. In Egypt, one influential daily sees it as a victory, while another is not so sure.

The final pullout of Syrian troops from Lebanon is an historic change in the ties between the two countries. Washington's feeling of joy and relief at having gained a free victory cannot be concealed. However, this is a chance for both Syria and Lebanon to review their bilateral ties, aside from the issues of troops, security and mafias.

Sati' nur-al-Din in Lebanon's Al-Safir

As the last Syrian troops depart, the Lebanese will likely breathe a sigh of relief. But they won't have much time to savour the sweetness of their new-found liberty; they are now left with the task of managing their own affairs, and there is an awful lot of work to be done. A once vibrant Lebanese economy has slowly crumbled under Syrian mismanagement.

Editorial in Lebanon's Daily Star

After Syria's withdrawal we will see who was with Lebanon and who was against it, who worked for Lebanon's national and Arab interests and who devised plans for foreign interference in its internal affairs. To all these people we say: Lebanon enjoyed stability and true sovereignty during its fraternal co-operation with Syria.

Umar Jaftali in Syria's Tishrin

We want to tell all those who feign blindness and scorn all the sacrifices Syria has made for Lebanon that Syria has always and will always stick to its principles and will always be faithful to its brothers. Lebanon will always have a place in Syria's heart. Syria will always offer its firm support in achieving the full liberation of the remaining lands occupied by Israel.

Muhammad Abu Bawdah in Syria's Al-Thawra

Syria's complete withdrawal came in the context of implementing UN Resolution 1559. This opens up an opportunity for Arabs to demand the implementation of the UN resolution on the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied Arab territories, which include Syria and Lebanon. Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon is a national victory for all political forces over sectarianism.

Editorial in Egypt's Al-Ahram

Years of Syrian presence will not end with its withdrawal or the disintegration of its secret services. Relations between Syria and Lebanon were not merely based on the presence of Syria's forces, but rather on the two countries' territorial coherence, nurtured by their co-operation on a single cause: Ending the Israeli occupation.

Editorial in Egypt's Al-Akhbar

From an Israeli point of view, the stability Syria brought to Lebanon meant the rules of the game were known. The danger now is that Hezbollah and other players will use Lebanon and its border with Israel as pawns in their game. Israel will find itself walking a thin rope: Showing great interest in events in Lebanon without being sucked into the vortex.

Itamar Rabinowitz in Israel's Ma'ariv

The delight that has taken hold of Israel upon hearing the good news is really heart-warming. [But] it is at best premature, and may be downright stupid, for the chances of Lebanon without Syrian President Bashar Assad once again becoming a little Switzerland are about the same as Iraq returning to the days of Babylon without Saddam.

B Mikhail in Israel's Yediot Aharonot

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