The U.N. and the U.S. have finally admitted the cease-fire plan in Syria has failed, and Syria is accusing the U.N. of supporting "terrorist" rebel attacks, which leaves us with the question: what's the next step in Syria?
George Mitchell, a former US peace envoy for the Middle East, was asked at a conference in Dublin if Bashar al-Assad could be tried as a war criminal in the same vein as Charles Taylor, the former Liberian leader the U.N. charged with war crimes earlier this week. "Certainly," he replied, adding, "I don't think that anyone could rule that out at this time."
Mitchell also said Assad should step down, and that the international community could be doing more for the Syrian people. "I think there are more actions that could be directed at the regime and all those that are supporting what is occurring there particularly the grievous number of deaths and injuries at present," he said. Mitchell was the US's Middle East peace envoy until last May.
A state-run Syrian newspaper antagonized U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an editorial on Saturday, accusing the U.N. of encouraging "terrorist" rebel attacks in Syria by focusing their criticisms on the Syrian government. "The continued disregard of the international community and its cover for armed groups' crimes and terrorist acts ... is considered as direct participation in facilitating and carrying out the terrorism to which Syria is subjected," the editorial read.
When the U.N. security council raised the number of monitors in Syria from 30 to 300, there was language in the first draft of legislation that threatened Syria with international sanctions if they didn't comply with the U.N.'s peace plan. The language was changed, instead threatening "unspecified further measures," in the final draft to appease Russia, who have been Syria's most reliable allies at the security council's negotiating table.
Where the rest of the international community goes from here is unclear. There are only fifteen U.N. monitors on the ground in syria right now, but they don't seem to be changing much. The U.S. have said they have no plans to send troops to Syria, but those statements were made a week ago and hinged on the U.N.'s peace plan succeeding. And while the admitted failings of the U.N.'s plan would normally point to change coming in the U.S.'s tone, it should be noted that there are still only fifteen U.N. monitors in Syria.