By William Tucker
Syrian President Bashir al-Assad has reportedly accepted the peace plan laid out by UN envoy Kofi Annan. Expectedly, the opposition has expressed skepticism over Assad’s intentions and understandably so. The peace plan laid out by the UN is really nothing more than rather loose terms for a cease-fire. It does call for UN peacekeepers, but thus far none have been pledged by any member state, at least not yet. Additionally, access to the country is supposed to be granted for humanitarian purposes. Once again, without peacekeepers, ensuring the safety and access of humanitarian organizations will be inconsistent at best. The UN has done this sort of thing before, albeit with mixed results, so we’ll have to keep a close eye on how this is implemented. There is currently no punitive provision should armed hostilities resume. If Assad feels threatened, or especially bold, he may simply accuse the opposition of breaking the agreement first and follow up by striking back. In essence, Assad has bought himself a bit of time. How he plans to use it remains to be seen.
The peace plan, as reported by the BBC, is summarized below:
1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people
2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians
3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause
4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons
5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists
6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.
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