by Zack Beauchamp
Kofi Annan's brokered cease-fire in the country appears to be restraining violence, but Assad is still refusing to comply with the cease-fire fully by withdrawing troops. Jack Goldstone thinks it can't hold:
The dyamic of the last few months appears to remain. Whenever Assad’s forces let up their assault, opposition forces gather in protest or to secure areas. As one protestor indicated, there is no going back to peace with Assad — too many have been raped, tortured, or killed. So no cease-fire is likely to be stable; opposition forces and demonstrators will use a cease-fire to show their rejection of Assad, and the government will move in to shut down such actions.
The ceasefire that is at the crux of current attention is not an end in and of itself. The six-point plan endorsed by the Arab League and the United Nations also seeks to establish a Syrian-led political process that addresses the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. While the terms of a transition are left unspecified, it should be clear to Russia and others that any credible managed transition will require the removal of Assad from power. There can be no stability in Syria if the regime remains fully intact. In light of the indispensability of Russia and China and their reservations about the consequences of a political transition, focus should now shift to fashioning a serious transition process that retains specific figures and institutions from the Assad regime while allowing for genuine political change to take root. If international consensus cannot be marshaled around such basic realities then Syria is destined to suffer from escalating and protracted conflict that is the sole alternative to a diplomatic resolution.
He's on-point here. There's no evidence that either Assad or the opposition is willing to back down or capable of making the other one do it anytime soon, which is a recipe for instability and, more importantly, humanitarian catastrophe. It seems in the best interests of all third parties, including the Russian stick-in-the-mud, to work out a mutually agreeable international plan for Assad's exit.