Tougher Action to Call Assad’s Bluff
The Syrian leader is not abiding by a UN peace plan. It is time to get tougher.
Three weeks ago, Bashar al Assad’s murderous Syrian regime signed up to a UN peace plan that sought to end the violence that has seen more than 9,000 people killed in the past 13 months. Today, the unwillingness of the Assad regime to abide by that plan, drawn up by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, is causing deep dismay.
Under the terms of the Annan plan, Syria’s armed forces must withdraw to barracks and end the killing of civilians who are opposed to the regime. Mr Assad must also begin a negotiated settlement with his opponents, ending what has effectively become a civil war.
Yet last week, there were constant reports of shelling by Assad troops and tanks in Syrian towns and cities. Four days ago, some 70 people died in an attack by government forces on a house in Hama. The UN secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon said he was “gravely alarmed” by the continuing military action by the regime. The US and its allies are now right to doubt whether Mr Assad is seriously committed to a negotiated truce with the Syrian opposition.