ISSN 2330-717X

Another Failed Annan Plan – OpEd

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By Reyhan Guner

Opponents, supporters, massacres and Bashar al-Assad’s persistency in maintaining his authority over the country… The pessimistic expectations for Syria are growing gradually as is the number of Syrian people murdered by the forces of Assad.

Inspired by the Arab revolutions, Syrian opponents called for revolution via social media on March 15, 2011. The deaths of 100 rebellious people in Daraa, a city in southwestern Syria triggered the revolts. More than 1300 civilians were murdered during these revolts in approximately three months and massacres have been continuing for one year. Amnesty International confirms the massacres in its report, “I Wanted to Die.” Containing the memoirs of Syrian people taking refuge in Jordan, the report highlights that people in Syria are being murdered systematically, and the burning of people with gasoline, breaking or cutting their necks and electroshock are only a couple of means of torture out of 31 methods. [1]

Assad and his Baath Party are blaming Israel for the revolts and believe that the Muslim Brotherhood helped opponents organize the rebellions. Additionally, there is a significant number of people that consider Syria to be on the brink of open sectarian tension according to Mohamad Bazzi of the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S. [2]

As the neighbor of Syria, Turkey has been following the events in the country closely. Calling on the Assad administration to halt the massacres, Turkey is pondering intervention in Syria, which is both eagerly supported and strongly criticized by different sides of the political spectrum.

Therefore, Turkey was hopeful for the meeting of Kofi Annan commissioned by the United Nations and Arab Union with Assad owing to its vacillation on the issue.

Kofi Annan, as the creator of the Annan Plan for the unification of Cyprus, having interacted with the Turkish government in the early 2000s and taken into account the significant role of Turkey for the solution of the Syria problem, met with Erdogan and Davutoglu in Ankara. Erdogan and Davutoglu demanded from Annan a quick decision-making process as soon as possible. Annan emphasized the awareness and sensibility of the international community and explained that “Massacres towards civilians have to be ended immediately. All countries should align against the unacceptability of the massacres.” [3] Additionally, Annan drew information out of the leaders of Syrian opposition groups, namely Khatem Maleb, Mantae El Beteb, Borhan Galion, Abdul Samad Selda, Samir Nesher and Abdollah Aslepho. He stated after the meetings that opponents promised him they would cooperate for the bilateral solution of the Syria events.

During his negotiations with Assad, Annan submitted a roadmap for the solution including five proposals:

1) A cease-fire should be declared and become binding with a decision made by the United Nations Security Council. Observers from the U.N. and Arab League should control the cease-fire.

2) Humanitarian aid should be delivered to Syrian people.

3) A government of unity comprising of the members of the Syrian National Council should be established.

4) An election law should be prepared immediately.

5) Elections for the assembly and presidency should be realized under the control of the United Nations and Arab League. [4]

After negotiations were terminated and Annan left Syria, it was stated by the Syria Revolution General Commission that the army of Assad increased the violence in Syria. In the region of Karm al-Zeitoun, 57 people were murdered. Furthermore, there were 43 bodies of which identities could not be determined. The Council asserts that sexual abuse and torture, notably toward women and children, are extremely frequent. Al Jazeera reported that more than 140 people were killed every day, and these are the numbers calculated despite the pressures put on Syrian and international media. Hence, the real numbers are estimated to be higher than the calculated ones. [5]

Even though Annan’s visit and roadmap gave hope to many countries and international institutions for the solution of the Syria problem, Annan’s plan came to nothing without considerable support and authority of international actors. Massacres implemented right after Annan’s return clearly demonstrated that dedicated efforts of other countries and political actors still cannot prevent Assad. Stating his disapproval of Annan’s roadmap via increasing the level of violence, Assad challenges international circles. Therefore, the question of Syria remains unsolved.

References:

[1] Amnesty International, “I Wanted to Die”, Retrieved on 14/3/2012; from the website: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE24/016/2012/en/708c3f40-538e-46a9-9798-ebae27f56946/mde240162012en.pdf
[2] The Guardian, “Six Syrians Who Helped Bashar al-Assad Keep Iron Grip After Father’s Death”, Retrieved on 28/4/2011; from the website; http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/28/syria-bashar-assad-regime-members
[3] Habertürk, “Annan’a Sayılarla Suriye Dramı”, Retrieved on 14/3/2012; from the website: http://www.haberturk.com/dunya/haber/724469-annana-sayilarla-suriye-drami
[4] Dünya Bülteni, “İşte Annan’ın Elindeki Beş Madde”, Retrieved on 14/3/2012; from the website: http://www.dunyabulteni.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=201633
[5] Analitik Bakış, “Suriye’de Yaşananlara Katliam Kelimesi Yetmez”, Retrieved on 14/3/2012; from the website: http://www.analitikbakis.com/NewsDetail.aspx?id=40721

JTW

JTW - the Journal of Turkish Weekly - is a respected Turkish news source in English language on international politics. Established in 2004, JTW is published by Ankara-based Turkish think tank International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

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