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West Conspiring To Cause Annan Plan To Fail In Syria – OpEd

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By Mohyeddin Sajedi

Preserving the ceasefire in Syria is much more difficult than officially implementing it. Several factors could raise doubt about its continuation.

Some of the international and regional sides believe the new situation does not provide the right framework for their interests and benefits. Therefore, they try to pave the way for the next stage and for civil war in Syria by mentioning the weak points and the conflicts. The deployment of foreign UN monitors is to ensure the identification of the side that violates the ceasefire.

The opposition groups in Syria are not all the same. Not all of them believe in armed fighting. The ‘National Council’ and the ‘Freedom Army’ were forced to accept the ceasefire, in the hopes that the Syrian government will not be able to observe it and will be forced to return the army to the streets. This will pave the way to foreign intervention and Bashar Assad’s isolation on the regional and international scene.

On the other hand, the Syrian government believes not many protests takes place in cities and towns and over the past few months it was the armed opposition that staged attacks. Therefore, a ceasefire will not be in the interest of those who want to see their desirable political changes in Syria through armed conflict.

Even if the both sides want to observe the ceasefire, an act such as an al-Qaeda-style explosion will be enough to disrupt the situation. Western sources have already reported that al-Qaeda has infiltrated the Syrian crisis. Al-Qaeda, like Assad’s opponents, is not a single organization and it is likely that one or more foreign security organizations will create an explosion in Syria and use a forged statement to claim al-Qaeda or an unknown group was responsible for the attack. This policy has been experienced several times in the Middle East and particularly during the Lebanese civil war.

With the beginning of the ceasefire, the Syrian crisis went from a security stage to a political one. Damascus can act with more freedom at this stage provided that all sides remain committed to the ceasefire. Parliamentary elections will help to strengthen the political stage of the country.

The ceasefire in Syria, if it last, will be the start of a long journey. The Syrian government does not appear to have any hope of the immediate lifting of Western sanctions, because the US and the European Union are quick to impose sanctions but hesitant when it comes to lifting them. The cooperation level of different groups in political negotiations and achieving real and tangible results will take time.

Implementing Kofi Annan’s plan for resolving the Syrian crisis started on April 10 and, two days later, a ceasefire was enforced. Two days earlier, Syrian army units had left restive and crisis-ridden cities. Russia had also asked Syria to take more practical steps.

The UN Security Council issued a statement on Tuesday in support of Kofi Annan’s plan and gave the Syrian government until 6:00 a.m. on April 12, to return troops back to garrisons. The deadline was close to the initial date announced by the Syrian government which had said Tuesday would be the beginning of the withdrawal of troops not its end and that it would take place within 48 hours.

Walid al-Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, flew to Moscow to convince the Kremlin to put more pressure on the opposition and make them commit to the ceasefire. Moscow is willing to play an important part in negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition.

The position of international observers was another topic of discussion between al-Muallem and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow. It is likely that 200 to 250 UN peacekeepers will oversee the implementation of the ceasefire. Damascus and Moscow want the mission of these peacekeepers, despite their being military personnel, not to be a military one.

Annan’s trip to Iran was the first international effort to involve Iran in the resolution of the Syrian crisis. Tehran supports Annan’s plan. Both Tehran and Moscow play an important part in convincing Damascus to accept international mediation. Iran says the all plans must be based on Assad remaining in power to implement profound political reforms, put an end to military and security chaos in Syria, and keep the anti-Israeli resistance front intact.

Kofi Annan will not accept the failure of his plan and believes that it has no substitute. The failure of his plan would mean civil war in Syria for which Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are already prepared. Ankara provides political and field support for the opposition while Riyadh and Doha provide them with financial support and arms.

Jordan is under pressure to become a way for financial aid and weapons to reach the Syrian opposition. However, the revelation by official Jordanian sources about seizing 5.3 million Saudi rials from a Syrian national on the border showed that by releasing the story Amman wants to stay away from meddling in the Syrian crisis. The Jordanian government has also announced that some weapons have been found and seized in the north of the country (along the border with Syria). Such news prompted the Saudi government to officially announce that it has sent no weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Mohyeddin Sajedi is a prominent Iranian political analyst who writes extensively on the Middle East issues. He also serves as a Middle East expert at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran

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