On March 27, Syria formally
accepted Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan. His spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi
"The Syrian government has written to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi
Annan accepting his six-point plan, endorsed by the United Nations
"Mr Annan views this as an important initial step that could bring
an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to the
suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political
dialogue that would fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian
At the same time, the Western-backed Syrian National Council (SNC)
rejected the plan. SNC member Naji Tayara spuriously accused Assad
of wanting "more time to continue with the killing."
Russia welcomed Assad's acceptance. A Foreign Ministry statement
said it's a way to end violence if both sides agree to talk and end
violence. Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said:
"Moscow met with satisfaction the statement of UN and Arab League
special envoy Kofi Annan that he had received the confirmation of
the Syrian governmentís consent to his proposal for peaceful
settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic."
"We are convinced that this offers a real opportunity for the
realization of lawful aspirations of all Syrians with respect for
the countryís sovereignty and independence and consolidated support
by the entire international community for Annanís mission."
"This opportunity must not be lost. It is extremely important in
this context that Syrian opposition groups should follow Damascusí
example and state clearly their consent to the proposal for peaceful
settlement made by the UN and Arab League special envoy and
supported by the UN Security Council."
Assad showed he wants peaceful resolution. The ball's in the
opposition court. Elements in it remain fractious. SNC/Free Syrian
Army killer gangs spurn peace. So does Washington to keep the Syrian
pot boiling and its regime change plans on track.
Syria's National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCC)
wants negotiations to resolve contentious issues peacefully. It
rejects violence and SNC/Free Syrian army elements pursuing it.
On March 29, a BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South
Africa) issued the following statement:
"The principles of normalization for Syria have all been made clear
ever since Kofi Annanís mission got down to work. There can be no
foreign intervention in Syria."
"The Syrian government, on the one hand, and the opposition forces,
on the other, should engage in dialogue. The government and the
opposition in Syria should believe in dialogue rather than follow a
short-sighted approach by saying that dialogue is doomed and that
only military operations can restore order in the country. Russia
will exert efforts to secure the success of the dialogue."
"The BRICS countries have swapped opinion on this issue and Russia
has called on them to render humanitarian assistance to the Syrian
people. Russia has already been providing Syria with relief
In contrast, US-led "Friends of Syria" will meet Sunday in Istanbul.
Key players plan conflict, not peace. As many as 70 countries may
participate. Only major Western and anti-Assad Middle East ones
Russia and China won't attend. A Foreign Ministry statement said
participants "aren't looking for dialogue" to end conflict. Indeed
not, and Moscow and Beijing know the stakes affecting their own
Ahead of Sunday's conference, Arab officials and Syrian opposition
elements met in Istanbul. At issue was forging consensus and unity.
Efforts fell short. Divisions remain.
Former SNC leader Haitham al-Maleh, several Kurdish delegates, and
others walked out. Syria's main nonviolent opposition group, the
National Coordination Committee (NCC) for Democratic Change,
boycotted the meeting. Those remaining claimed success.
Violent opposition elements alone agree, despite claiming they
support a "civil, democratic, pluralistic, independent" sovereign
Syria. In fact, they want the country turned into another US vassal
state like their own.
On Thursday, Arab leaders met in Baghdad. Divisions were clear.
Sunni-led Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Qatar support regime change,
including violently ousting Assad to get it. Host country Iraq's
firmly opposed. So are others supporting Annan's peace plan.
UK Writer Patrick Seale on Syria
UK writer Patrick Seale knows Syria well. He wrote Hafez Assad's
biography, Bashar's father, titled: "Asad: The Struggle for the
Middle East." On March 28, 2011 his Foreign Policy article
headlined, "The Syrian Time Bomb," saying:
"Syria lies at the center of a dense network of Middle East
relationships, and the crisis in that country....is likely to have a
major impact on the regional structure of power."
He called Syria the "linchpin" of a Tehran/Damascus/Hezbollah
"bulwark" against US/Israeli regional dominance. Like other Middle
East states, Syria's comprised of "a mosaic of ancient religions,
sects, and ethnic groups held uneasily and sometimes uncomfortably
together by central government."
Internal conflict profoundly disrupts the region. If Assad falls,
"blood-thirsty sectarian demons risk being unleashed, and the entire
region could be consumed in an orgy of violence."
In February 2012, Seale said the Syrian conflict's not only an
assault on Damascus but one on Tehran and Hezbollah. It's waged to
thwart their "bulwark" against US/Israeli regional hegemony. That's
what we're witnessing, he said.
"Itís a struggle for regional supremacy, regional dominance, as well
as an internal struggle between the Assad regime and its enemies, of
whom the Muslim Brothers are the most organized and best funded
element, the only element perhaps in the (SNC) opposition that
enjoys some support at a public level." At the same time, it
represents a small minority.
He added that Assad seems in no imminent danger of being toppled.
His army and security forces remain loyal. Russia and China support
him. India, Brazil, and other nations likely do as well. In
addition, he benefits greatly from divisions among opposition
At the same time, most Syrians back him as the only way to stop
violence and prevent possibly replicating the worst of Iraq or
After years of US led regional violence, many people want Assad to
survive rather than open "the door to the Pandora's box of the
If another war erupts, Seale, like others, sees regional disaster
resulting. They're easy to start, hard to end, and risk spreading
uncontrollably to something much greater with potentially
devastating consequences hopefully no one wants.
Nonetheless, he sees a possible replay of the run-up to attacking
Iraq in 2003. Dialogue's the only way out. Continuing conflict's
likely to end badly for all sides. On March 27, he called for a
Middle East "Grand Bargain," saying:
Conflicts plagued the region for decades. It's time to curb the rage
for war. The five permanent Security Council members are key. Other
influential ones like Germany, India and Brazil can help.
Together they can bring conflicting sides together peacefully.
They've got muscle enough to do it. The nature of regional conflicts
requires global action. All sides must make concessions.
Facilitating Palestinian self-determination would improve chances
for success. Doing so would "puncture a (longstanding) boil" that's
"poisoned political relationships in the Middle East for decades,"
and erupts often in violence.
A Final Comment
Washington, of course, is key. It's the main obstacle to peace. So
far, achieving it's impossible given its rage to replace independent
regimes with client ones by any means, including war.
Changing that requires international opposition from major Western
and regional allies. Wars beget more of them. Endless carnage
results. Instead of solving problems they magnify them.
Peaceful resolution offers hope. The key to peace and keeping it
always requires give and take, as well as a realization that wars
solve nothing. Didn't two global ones prove anything?
Imagine another now with nuclear and other weapons of mass
destruction. The potential disaster's too horrifying to allow.
Maybe cooler US and Israeli heads one day will prevent it. Wouldn't
that be "grand" indeed, though so far it's nowhere in sight.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
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