Skepticism as Syria accepts Kofi Annan's peace plan, concerns that it buys Assad more time

Syria’s president Bashar al Assad has reportedly accepted a peace plan offered by United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The six-point plan proposes a cease-fire to be verified by the UN, says the BBC. But the plan imposes no deadline for its implementation and it doesn’t mention whether Assad should leave office or not.

While Annan is calling it “an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed,” the main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), worries that this will just buy Assad more time. Some of the group’s representatives are meeting in Turkey to discuss their strategy.

Meanwhile, clashes between government security forces and opposition fighters continue and have spilled over the Lebanese border, Reuters reports: “Syrian troops advanced into north Lebanon, destroying farm buildings and clashing with Syrian rebels holed up there, residents said.”

Foreign Policy analyses the current situation citing a few skeptics:

“This is a plan which, if it had been put on the table six weeks ago, would have offered Assad a way out for the regime. But it has much less reason to bargain at a time where the regime is scoring successive military victories,” said Richard Gowan, an expert on the United Nations at New York University’s Center for International Cooperation. “The problem is that the Syrian military is continuing to create facts on the ground and Annan and the Security Council are inevitably struggling to keep up.”

The Washington Post editorial page put it more bluntly on March 22: Annan’s initiative, it reasoned, “will likely provide time and cover for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to continue using tanks and artillery to assault Syrian cities and indiscriminately kill civilians.”

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