As Kahntensions has been suggesting for a while now Syria will either revert to the status quo ante or someone will assassinate Bashar Al Assad. These prospects are now being discussed by Syria experts all over the ideological map. From the left wing British journalist Patrick Cockburn to Syria expert and former Israeli Ambassador in Washington Itamar Rabinovich to former U.S. Ambassador in Syria Edward Djerejian, all are now suggesting that until a clear alternative group actually emerges, no one should assume that Assad is leaving so fast; except if he is assassinated, an attempt on life actually was briefly reported today during Assad’s visit to Homs.
In the meantime the killings continue and now, Syria, presumably with the blessing of its Iranian masters, is trying to get the Lebanese forces into the fray by apparently crossing into Lebanon today to stir up mischief there as well. Although the reports were confusing as to whether Syrian troops actually crossed into Lebanon or only shot into Lebanon, clearly if Syria can engage and involve Hezbollah it will only be good for Assad. It will also place Israel on a heightened alert as the possibility then develops that Assad will want Hezbollah to support him and perhaps to engage in some new confrontation with Israel to serve as a distraction or even as a source to blame for his continued fighting at home.
With the Kofi Anan Syria peace mission in high gear and the Russians now on board as well, Assad himself agreed to the six point package. Clearly, the fact that he accepted the plan as a basis for discussion suggests two important facts: the Russians, his major supporter wanted him to do it and the package is probably pointless. Russia had looked bad blocking the Security Council’s early efforts, so now it appears willing to support a Annan proposal. Acceptance is not the same as implementation, and the opposition forces are not willing to accept the plan unless it includes Assad’s willingness to step down.
When it comes to the U.N. talk is cheap. It remains to be seen whether the Arab League, whose own missions were on the ground in Syria and got nowhere, will be able to unite behind this proposal and move Assad to implement it. Annan’s good intentions alone will not do that; meanwhile the killing continues.