A Defeat In Homs

The Free Syrian Army appears [NYT] to be retreating from Baba Amr, the most-beseiged neighborhood in that most-beseiged city, potentially setting the stage for mass violence as Assad tries to retake control. Shashank Joshi thinks turning the area into a bloodbath won't quell the uprising:

Homs will not decide the fate of the country. It is not a last-ditch battle. Far from being a lone revolutionary bridgehead, it is only the most prominent symptom of a malaise afflicting huge parts of Syria. The city's destruction will probably harden national resistance, which has surpassed in scale and breadth that which took place in the 1970s and 1980s. It will shatter what little hopes were left of a political settlement.

Daniel Serwer pins his hopes on UN envoy Kofi Annan:

We should not expect Annan to get past Bashar’s defenses easily or quickly.  As fallacious as the claims may be, he will have to listen and appear to appreciate them.  Then, he needs to try to internationalize the situation as much as possible, by getting Arab League and UN monitors back into Syria to prevent renewed violence once a ceasefire is in place.  He also needs to maintain his credibility with the Russians, so that he can talk with them about how their interests in port access and arms sales might be better served by a future, democratically-validated regime than by a declining Assad.

Anne Applebaum wants the opposition and foreign supporters to start publicly discussing the endgame. Emily Parker finds shockingly little social media coverage of Syria's plight.