April 10 came. April 10 went…and it appears that little has changed on the ground in Syria.
Syrian troops shelled and raided opposition strongholds nationwide on Tuesday, activists said, prompting an urgent appeal by international envoy Kofi Annan to the Syrian regime to halt violence and give his truce plan a chance…
The main Syrian opposition group estimated that some 1,000 people have been killed in regime attacks in the week leading up to Tuesday’s withdrawal deadline. Tuesday’s fighting claimed the lives of at least 29 civilians and 11 regime soldiers, activists said.
And then there is this blunt statement from the French Foreign minister, Alain Juppe:
Today is the day that Kofi Annan was to say whether or notDamascushad immediately implemented the measures it had pledged to adopt: to cease troop movements toward cities, to end the use of heavy weapons against civilians, and to begin the pullback of security forces from population centers.
The letter that the special envoy sent to the Security Council today demonstrates and confirms the point to whichDamascusis flouting its commitments and is adopting a confrontational stance toward its people and the international community.
The facts presented by the special envoy are unambiguous. Not only has the use of heavy weapons not ended, not only have releases of political prisoners been minimal compared with the dimensions of the crackdown, not only is Damascus now attacking its neighbors, but what was presented as a withdrawal is in fact only a thinly disguised redeployment.
In these circumstances, the international community now notes thatDamascushas not respected its obligations of April 10. Bashar al-Assad has lied to Kofi Annan, who enjoys the international community’s full support. I regret it all the more in that the opposition was prepared to do its part, provided that Damascus respected its prior commitments.
At tomorrow’s G8 meeting, I will underscore the gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves. During our working meetings, I will insist on the need for the Security Council to draw all the consequences of this situation and study the new measures needed to impose an end to the violence and a political process.
Kofi Annan’s Six Point Plan–which called for a ceasefire starting today–isn’t really Kofi Annan’s plan. It’s the Security Council’s plan. They endorsed it on March 21 in a unanimous presidential statement. (This can partly explain Juppe’s aggressive statement.) And now that the ceasefire deadline has come and gone, it also means that Russia has formally supported a plan that Syria is now blatantly ignoring.
The next logical step is to increase the international pressure on the Assad regime through the Security Council to try and compel compliance. The USA and western powers are itching to pass a legally binding resolution, perhaps with sanctions or an ICC referral, but the Council will go only so far as Russia will let it. If Russia feels piqued that Syria is ignoring a plan Moscow supports, they may be willing to consider a Security Council resolution. However, if Moscow has little interest in standing up for the Security Council, we may be back to square one.
We will know more tomorrow, after 6 am, which is the final ceasefire deadline. So far, though, it appears that Syria is definitely not on board.