The Syrian government has agreed to implement the plan of UN Special Representative Kofi Annan to end violence in this country. The agency that reported the news referred to his assistant, Ahmad Fawzi. The plan's author welcomed the move of Damascus, arguing that its implementation "can bring an end to violence and bloodshed, assist victims and create favorable conditions for a political dialogue that will take into account the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people."
Kofi Annan immediately called on the Syrian regime to begin implementation of their commitments right away, although earlier he claimed that while the situation in Syria cannot be left unaddressed, there should be no firm deadlines for implementation of the plan to put an end to violence.
The position of Russia played its role in this decision by Assad. On March 25, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that Annan's mission may become the last chance for Damascus to avoid a protracted and bloody civil war." In addition, he assured that Russia will do every effort on its part to assist in the implementation of this plan "at any level in different areas."
Yet, how feasible is this plan and what does it look like? It has a number of general vague statements, including the cessation of violence by all parties to the armed conflict under UN supervision. It should begin with the withdrawal of government troops from major cities. It also addresses the need to "ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to victims of the armed conflict areas and release of illegally detained persons."
The only question is that the radical opposition does not intend to follow these rules, and virtually the obligations are imposed only on the Assad regime. Since March 24, the commander of the "Free the Syrian Army", a former Colonel Riyadh al-Assad announced the establishment of the united Military Council opposition in Turkey to coordinate the actions of "Free the Syrian Army" and the troops of the former Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh. Riyad al-Assad made it clear that it is done to unite all opponents of the regime.
But, apparently, the position of the regime is strong as in February-March it has regained control of all areas that used to be in the hands of militants, including those of Homs and the "Syrian Vendee" - rebellious Idlib.
However, the results of special operations are more than modest. Of course, the government army armed with heavy equipment and helicopters took the victory. But how many militants it was able to destroy, and can it seriously affect their fighting ability? Government sources report on serious progress, the opposing party refutes these statements. In any case, most militants left the town in the mountains of Idlib and Turkey.
In fact, once again there was a repetition of the situation, when the rebels under pressure from the army retreated to remote areas, and then returned. In Idlib it was happening throughout 2011, starting June. The same is observed in the suburbs of Damascus that have to be cleaned consistently and with no real results.
The question arises: what will Assad do when the insurgents reappear, given the fact that they do not intend to follow the plan of the UN, and the latter does not have real leverage?
In this case, he will certainly have to re-enter the troops, which will finally bury the stillborn plan of the UN special envoy. This poses a question with respect to humanitarian aid, and who and in what form will be delivering it.
In the understanding of the opponents of the regime this is the allocation of specific areas uncontrolled by Assad regime in the region of Idlib, Homs and Deraa, where all things necessary for the opposition to conduct hostilities will be delivered. More than that, the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf and a number of Western countries are sympathetic of these expectations.
The situation for the Syrian regime is getting increasingly bleaker. Militants exhaust the government forces with their endless raids, they tear infrastructure, forcing the authorities to react in a way that further angers the population. The more the opposition is beaten, the more it is willing to take revenge, especially in the areas like Idlib, where there are enough of those willing to take up arms.
But there is more to it. The West and its regional allies are not going to leave Syria alone. On the contrary, they continue the steady, methodical pressure on Assad's regime, demonstrating the presence of a well-thought-out plan for its overthrow. For example, there is a real threat to its diplomatic isolation. Earlier, following the majority of Arab and Western countries, Turkey has decided to close its embassy in Damascus.
Finally, time is against Assad. The effect of the economic sanctions of the West and the Arab League strangling Syria is already obvious. How long will the regime last with its shattered economy?
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