Forcing Assad to see reality
Skepticism was the appropriate reaction late last week when Syria agreed to a preliminary peace plan that includes a truce with rebels. After all, for the last year President Bashar Assad has implemented a mass-murder campaign in a futile effort to quell a popular uprising manifested by mass protests. Anyone capable of such barbarism is clearly capable of reneging on an accord to stop the violence against his own people.
And over the last few days, government forces have continued to slaughter Syrian civilians, seemingly intensifying their killing efforts as next Tuesday’s scheduled 48-hour truce looms, supposedly as a prelude to a full cease-fire starting two days later. On Friday, Turkish officials reported intensified Syrian military attacks on fleeing refugees near the border between the two nations.
According to the U.N., more than 9,000 people have died in the Syrian crackdown since it began in the 2011 “Arab Spring.” Other groups estimate an even higher death toll.
And on Thursday, the U.N. Security Council demanded that Syria “urgently and visibly” end its attacks on the rebels.
Mr. Annan, the former U.N. secretary general now serving as the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, did well to obtain Assad’s assent on the peace proposal. While that agreement offers no guarantee that the brutal Syrian regime will honor its word, it does at minimum reflect the growing pressure on Assad to step down.
The best outcome, of course, would be for Assad to see reality and resign.
The next best result at this point, though, is for the Syrian government to follow through on its agreement to stop the violence.
But if it doesn’t, that will further demonstrate why Assad must go.
Though Russia had previously blocked U.N. action against Syria and this week warned Western and Arab nations against arming the rebels, it supports Mr. Annan’s peace proposal.
However, stopping the bloodshed, while crucial, is merely a first step. As Ahmad Fawzi, Mr. Annan’s spokesman said Thursday, the ultimate goal must be a political process that fulfills the “legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”
And the Syrian people legitimately aspire to liberation from Assad’s murderous tyranny.
The galvanizing efforts of the international community against the regime raise hopes that its days are numbered.