Three thoughts on what is next for Syria.
1) There does not seem to be a ceasefire in the traditional sense of the word, but the level of violence does seem to have decreased since last Thursday. Last week, scores of people were killed each day in heavy assaults. This week, fewer people are being killed and the attacks do not seem to be as audacious. This means there is some window of opportunity for the observer mission to, potentially, have an effect on the ground. After 13 months and 10,000 deaths, Saturday’s Security Council vote was the first baby-step toward a diplomatic solution to this crisis.
2) The man who brought us the one moment of potential progress was Kofi Annan. It is his plan that the Security Council endorsed and that the Council voted to empower by sending an observer mission. So…outsiders need to be careful not undermine Annan’s efforts. Some outsiders are calling for arming of the Syrian rebels and/or more direct military intervention. (For example, two prominent American senators stood at the Turkish-Syrian border calling for more war). This is in direct contravention to Kofi Annan’s repeated appeal against further militarizing this conflict. The more people call for more conflict, the less likely that this tenuous agreement will hold.
3) Russia still holds most of the cards when it comes to pressuring Syria into accepting a political solution to this crisis. If Syria renews audacious attacks against civilians, it will be up to Russia to decide whether or not the Security Council condemns or punishes Syria. If Syria drags its feet toward implementing other parts of the Six Point Plan–like granting greater humanitarian access to besieged cities or taking real steps toward the political transformation of Syria — it will be up to Russia to prod Syria in the right direction. There is really nothing much that the rest of the Security Council can do. Russia, as has always been the case, is key. Assad will only go so far has Russia forces him.
Related: Video posted today showing a Mosque in Homs under attack.