U.N. envoy Kofi Annan said today "I believe it’s a bit too early to say that the [peace] plan has failed,” despite all evidence that it already has. The Syrian government was given a deadline of Tuesday to withdraw their military forces from the country's major cities, which it clearly has not done. Now they have a new cease-fire deadline of daybreak on Thursday morning. Given this video of a new assault on Homs that was allegedly taken today, that seems pretty unlikely too.
In fact, since they "agreed" to the outline of the peace plan two weeks ago, not only has Bashar al-Assad's force not implemented any of its edicts, the Syrian government has actually increased the severity and frequency of their attacks. (Rebel sources claim that as many as 1,000 people have been killed just in the last week. The U.N. puts the death total since the uprising began above 9,000.) Fighting has spilled over into Turkey — where Annan was met with harsh criticism by refugees — and Syria's response was to make more demands on the rebels as a condition for a truce. Annan insists that he has received "government assurances" that Syria will respect the ceasefire, but since they haven't respected any other aspect of the peace plan so far, why does he believe them?
Annan turned his efforts to Iran today, yet another country that might be able to rein in Bashar al-Assad, but probably won't. Like China and Russia, the Iranians insist that other nations need to stay out of Syrian affairs, which means they support "peace' as long as they don't have to do anything about it. That leaves it up to the United Nations to enforce their own rules, but if they won't arm the rebels (which Annan says would be "disastrous") and they won't send in actual peacekeeping forces, then they've given Syria no reason to obey .... and have actually provided two weeks of diplomatic cover while Assad continues to massacre his own people.
We know that Annan — who was the director of the United Nations peacekeeping divsion during the Rwandan genocide in 1994 — means well, but his fundamental belief that the political process can get bad people to do the right thing has done nothing to help the people Syria. Annan says that "The political process must be Syrian-led and respect the aspirations of the Syrian people," but if the Syrian government respected the aspirations of its people, it wouldn't be bombing them. We don't know what Annan thinks he's negotiating, but it isn't peace.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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