Syrian forces threaten ceasefire
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fought rebels near the border with Turkey on Friday, threatening a ceasefire brokered by United Nations peace envoy Kofi Annan.
AP photo Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fought rebels near the border with Turkey on Friday, threatening a ceasefire brokered by United Nations peace envoy Kofi Annan.Opposition activists called for mass demonstrations after Friday prayers to test how Assad's forces will tolerate a return to peaceful protest, as international pressure mounted for Damascus to fully comply with its commitments to Annan, by withdrawing troops and heavy weapons.The U.N. Security Council was working on a resolution authorising the despatch of an advance party of U.N. observers to monitor the truce, says Reuters.Western powers and Syrian opposition leaders remain skeptical the regime will stick to pledges that it will go along with Annan's plan. The Syrian government has broken promises in the past and full compliance could put Assad at risk. Opposition leaders predict that protesters would flood the streets if they no longer have to fear violence and could quickly bring down the president.The head of the opposition Syrian National Council has called for such mass protests Friday, the day of weekly street marches since the uprising began in March 2011.
Under Annan's plan, the Syrian government must allow peaceful protests.In a sign that the regime might not tolerate large demonstrations, the Interior Ministry warned in a statement carried by the state-run SANA news agency Thursday that demonstrators would have to seek government permission for any marches, according to CBS News.Special envoy Kofi Annan met with the Syrian president over the weekend and presented him with several peace plans along with a truce that called for him to pull his troops back from the cities. By midweek when it appeared likely that Assad would ignore the restraints, Annan appealed to Iran as Syria's closest ally to persuade Assad to back off, an added pressure that may reveal the truth of exactly what Assad is capable of at this point.The violence seems to have crossed over into what can only be called warlordism, with random colonels and generals building their own fiefdoms in the war-torn country. McCain and Graham can make their case, and from a humanitarian standpoint, it is powerful. But Obama can't get involved when there's not a side to get on, when the country is on the verge of anarchy.Syria is not Libya where the rebel groups were generally cohesive, and there was a government in place with Ghadaffi and his sons. Assad is a dictator who should be held accountable for the wrongs he has inflicted on his people, but at this point it's not clear that he is still in charge, or whether a rogue military has taken over as in Somalia.
Assad's days may be numbered, but even if he goes, what would take his place? This is a fight Obama can't resolve, informs Herald Times Reporter. .