Annan's peace plan for Syria under fire
(CBS News) UNITED NATIONS -- At the same time that new assaults are being launched against cities in Syria by the government, U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan tried to reassure the General Assembly that his peace plan was not functioning as a pretext for the Assad regime in Syria to buy time or to defeat the opposition. Many in the U.N. have come to see the Syrian conflict as an internationalized battle - a proxy war - between Russia and Iran on one side and the U.S. and the Gulf states on the other.
A still-divided U.N. Security Council adopted a non-enforceable Presidential Statement to bolster Annan just before he briefed the General Assembly.
With the deadline one week away for the cessation of all violence, at the U.N., diplomacy is decreasing and violence increasing ahead of the deadline. Despite the fact that Syria's Assad said that the government would begin to withdraw troops from population centers, the Syrian army shelled a suburb of Damascus and continued their assault on Homs.
The brutal conflict in Syria, rapidly becoming a civil war, has become an international fight for influence in the region, with arms pouring into Syria from Russia and Iran and the opposition armed by several Gulf states and aided with communications equipment by the U.S. Annan will head to Iran next week, in an attempt to negotiate support for his plan.
With a deadline of April 10 for the government to end the fighting and April 12 for the opposition, the Kofi Annan peace plan is in the hot seat and Annan will have to return to the U.N. if the fighting does not stop.
Norwegian peacekeeping representative Major-General Robert Mood is already in Damascus with the hope of bringing 200 - 250 non-armed staff to monitor the peace.
At the U.N. this morning, an enraged Syrian Ambasssor Bashar Ja'afari emerged from the follow-up closed door meeting of the General Assembly complaining that arming the opposition is fanning the flames and angry that his call for a moment of silence for the victims in Syria was unheeded by the Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly. "We are not a banana republic," he said.
The U.N. estimates that the death toll has reached 9,000 and rising, as Annan said, at an alarming rate. The dilemma for the U.N. is what to do in one week's time, if the peace plan fails; there doesn't appear to be a credible Plan B.
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