All eyes will be on Syria tomorrow as the country promises to "cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6 a.m." If the pledge is broken, it will be mean the collapse of the United Nations peace plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan. It will also mean the peace process was exploited by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to continue killing rebels and civilians. But what are the actual consequences of blowing the U.N. deadline? We asked the Brookings Institution's Daniel Byman, director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Here's what a blown deadline can mean:
Increased American involvement First off, the authorization for Annan's U.N. mission in Syria doesn't talk about specific consequences if Syria doesn't cooperate but that doesn't mean there won't be indirect geopolitical ramifications. One of these is the U.S. playing a greater roll in supporting the Syrian rebels. "We're almost backing into this," he said. "Initially it was diplomacy, then a concerted diplomatic campaign and now humanitarian aid. Each step is an escalation." Already, the U.S. has given the rebels $25 million in humanitarian support, satellite communications equipment and night-vision goggles. "The next step is military aid," said Byman. "You can see the progression moving here." The Los Angeles Times has indicated that the implementation of a no-fly zone or "pinpoint airstrikes on Syrian artillery" are both possibilites.