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Editorial

Annan’s failure

FILE - Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria speaks during a news conference following the Action Group on Syria meeting in the Palace of Nations, at the United Nations' Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Special U.N. envoy Kofi Annan acknowledged in an interview published Saturday, July 7, 2012 that the international community's efforts to find a political solution to the escalating violence in Syria have failed. Annan also said that more attentio

Kofi Annan’s return to Damascus Sunday evening adds insult to injury after his admission over the weekend that his peace plan for Syria has failed.

Since the U.N.-Arab League envoy’s six-point plan was apparently introduced in April, activists say some 4,000 more people have been killed, bringing the total to around 17,000.

The cease-fire that it called for has been ignored by both sides on a daily basis, and the 300 observers who are currently in the country are rarely even allowed to leave their hotel rooms due to violence outside their doors.

Reaching a conclusion the rest of the world had seemingly already arrived at, Annan this weekend admitted that, “Evidently, we have not succeeded.”

But rather than follow that admission up with an announcement that the mission will cease operations, surely the next logical step, Annan actually returns to the scene of the crime, to continue flogging this dead horse.

The observer mission, which will already go down as a black mark on the history of the United Nations, has no purpose in Syria. Undeniably, it was to face huge challenges but it has proven incapable of improving the situation on the ground in any tangible way, instead actually bearing witness to one of the bloodiest periods in the now 16-month-long uprising.

Whether due to miscalculations, personal political ambitions, or a mixture of both, the mission has now become an accomplice in the enduring regime-sponsored destruction of Syria and its people. And the sooner the U.N. withdraws the mission, the better, for this act might finally prompt the international community to sit up and create alternative, effective methods to end the massacres, something U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted at Sunday when she remarked that Annan’s acknowledgement “should be a wake-up call for everyone.”

Appeals to the regime, and to President Bashar Assad himself, whom Annan was due to meet Sunday evening, are no longer enough. A regime which kills its own people, destroys its cities, ruins its economy, makes refugees of its citizens and which can count its remaining international friends on one hand, is not a regime which will make compromises and agree to concede power.

The Syrian government has shown no indication that it has any intention to veer from its own “security solution,” and yet Annan seems to think he can politely discuss a cease-fire in Damascus. If his failed six-point plan has achieved anything, it is to prove, once and for all, that the regime is prepared to fight to retain power, at any cost.

If anything is to be salvaged from Annan’s meaningless six-point plan now, it is vital for the international community to take his admission of failure as a cue to introduce a new round of measures against the Assad regime, and measures which actually hurt the regime, not merely tickle it.

This dictatorship has persisted for 40 years now, and if the necessary steps are not taken by world powers, it is not impossible that it will continue its killing and its burning until it feels the next 40 years are guaranteed.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 09, 2012, on page 7.

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