‘Last Hope’ for Peace Fading in Syria

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Saying that the six-point peace plan negotiated by Kofi Annan with the Syrian government represented “the last hope” for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, key members of the “Friends of Syria” coalition meeting in Paris on Thursday warned of further action by the UN Security Council unless President Assad lived up to the terms of the agreement.

In Damascus, representatives of the UN and the Syrian government signed a preliminary series of protocols that delineates the responsibilities of the Syrian government with respect to the advance team of UN monitors who arrived in the country on Tuesday. The agreement covers how the team of up to 30 observers will “monitor and support a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties.” The UN Security Council will take up the issue of sending a much larger contingent of monitors to Syria — up to 300 according to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon — within days.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her most serious warning to the Assad regime to date, threatened to invoke sanctions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter — a move that would allow the Security Council to authorize force. More strong words came from French President Nicolas Sarkozy who compared the situation in Syria with Libya and urged the formation of “humanitarian corridors” to get food, medicine, and relief aid to more than a million Syrians in desperate need of supplies.

And Turkey is considering invoking Article 5 of the NATO Charter that calls an attack on one NATO state an attack on the entire alliance. Syrian military units have fired on refugee camps in Turkey in recent days, killing 4 Syrian civilians and wounding two Turkish nationals.

Despite all the maneuvering, the bottom line is that the Annan “peace plan” is for all intents and purposes, dead. The plan called for the Syrian government to withdraw their heavy weapons from cities and towns, begin releasing detainees, start a dialogue with the opposition, allow foreign reporters into the country, allow peaceful protests to occur, and allow humanitarian aid to reach those who need it.

The Assad regime has failed on each and every point to follow through on their responsibilities under the plan. While the first few days of the 10-day old cease fire saw fewer civilian casualties, the last 48 hours have seen horrific shelling in the twin flashpoint cities of Homs and Hama. Dozens of deaths have been reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in London. No detainees have been released, the two sides have refused to sit down while the fighting continues, foreign reporters are still barred from entering the country, Assad’s soldiers have fired on peaceful demonstrators, and humanitarian aid has been blocked or unable to reach the afflicted due to the fighting.

The question has been asked — why persist in trying to resurrect an agreement honored in the breach by both sides? The answer is, according to Ban Ki Moon, that there is no other choice but to try and make the agreement work. The Secretary General still sees an “opportunity for progress” despite the near collapse of the cease fire plan, and called on the Security Council to support a larger monitoring mission saying that it “would greatly contribute to observing and upholding the commitment of the parties to a cessation of armed violence in all its forms.”

Syria has suggested that 250 monitors would be sufficient while the UN and Friends of Syria think that a number of 300 to 400 observers spread out over 10 cities and towns would be more effective. The attitude of Russia and China toward this increased presence of monitors in Syria is unknown. Both nations have formed a “Friends of Assad” grouping at the UN and have vetoed every SC resolution that sought to strengthen sanctions and bring Assad to heel. But the monitoring mission might be more to their liking. China has said that it is studying the idea of joining an observer force and Hillary Clinton met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier on Thursday, who agreed that the situation in Syria was no longer “a static state, but a deteriorating one.”

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  • truebearing

    This is the very definition of a morass.

  • wctaqiyya

    All the hand wringing and blathering about peace-keepers and safe zones is nonsense. At best, the UN and the so-called 'Friends of Syria' are just delaying the inevitable overthrow of Bashar Assad. Turkey may be trolling for financial support now but in the end, it will continue to support the rebels with arms and supplies and safe zones. Let's just get on with the rebellion so it will finish sooner rather than later. If people want to contribute, let them. I don't want any of my tax dollars or soldiers anywhere near Syria. The Turks are close by and have the power to determine how quickly this ends. Give them diplomatic cover and get out of their way.

  • Whatsinaname

    Why are we caring about this? Another day, another war, another "humanitarian crisis" in Islamoland. Everytime the Arabs hand us an ace in the hole in the form of Arabs spending their money, ammo and manpower to kill each other off, we get all hot and bothered and jump in and save them. For what? In this case, both sides are bad: Assad and the Muslim Brotherhood which is the FSA. Let's just let them duke it out and hope that after they are all too tired and broke to cause the world trouble for a LONG time.

  • kendrick1

    The scenario is: We help the rebels with food and munitions. The rebels win! We aid them in reconstruction, and training their troops. The trained troops start killing our soldiers! They tell us to get out! We try to buy them off! We leave Rebels in power mistreating citizens! We put on our Santa Claus suit, grab a sack of taxpayer money, and head out to help the new rebels!! Me and every taxi-driver in Alabama can see that!!!

    The A-rabs have their con down to perfection!!

    This would be a good time to start pulling out of all the countries in which we have our noses and U.S. taxpayer money. Cut off the funds we give them, reinforce our defenses here at home, get busy drilling for oil and natural gas, produce more coal, and strive for more renewable energy(with no taxpayer subsidies)! To a man, all countries of the world hate us!! So I say, let them go on their own and let's take care of our own people. We are now being held hostage by the Islamists!! The following link can give you an idea of what can happen when other nations are left to their own devices!!
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,171

  • http://thereisnosantaclaus.blogspot.com TINSC

    Syria will survive with or without Assad. Whether it will be a better friend to the United States is all but assured. Syria will continue to be a hostile nation.

    Given that, there is no sense in the use of American military assets to assist the Syrian opposition. We've done this before in other Muslim countries only to have the same results time-after-time.

    Regardless of how much we loath the Assad regime, there is little long-term benefit to the United States of seeing the Assad regime fall.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.