The Syrian regime has decided against upholding their commitment to a ceasefire on Tuesday, with the United Nations calling for a Thursday deadline for the violence to end in the country. United States Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said in comments released by her office that the opposition is expected to halt fighting if the government does.
“The deadline has passed for the government’s initial steps,” said Rice. “Those commitments have not been fulfilled. The opposition has generously indicated that, nonetheless, it is prepared still—were the government to fulfill its steps—to nonetheless meet its commitments as of the 12th.”
UN envoy Kofi Annan had presented a six-point plan to the sides calling for the cessation of violence in Syria. The first three steps were centered around ending the fighting. Initially, Annan said the Bashar al-Assad regime accepted April 10 as the deadline for the withdrawal of troops from population centers. However, they later said Annan had misinterpreted the decision.
As part of Annan’s plan, the opposition was to halt fighting within 48 hours of the government doing so. That, according to Rice, has been shifted so that both sides now can respect the ceasefire by Thursday.
Assad has led a vicious crackdown on the opposition, killing thousands of people. Originally, protesters marched and rallied peacefully against the dictator. Eventually, however, the opposition took up arms as well, with some concerned the country is heading towards civil war.
Rice said that should the regime miss yet another deadline, the international community and the UN Security Council should consider additional steps against the Assad government.
She said the situation is approaching a “moment of truth” in which the Council will need to decide “whether we are prepared, if there is continued non-compliance, to take the logical next step, which is to increase the pressure on the Assad regime through collective action.”
She did not specify such action. China and Russia have both vetoed two separate UN resolutions condemning the violence in the Council in the last six months, raising questions about what steps the UN body will agree to take should the regime continue its crackdown.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 10, 2012)