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Wed Dec 07 20:15:55 SAST 2016

Annan's six-point plan the only way to peace in Syria

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-04-16 00:28:31.0
Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. File photo REUTERS/Noor Khamis
Image by: NOOR KHAMIS

The Times Editorial: An advance team of UN observers is expected to begin monitoring Syria's shaky ceasefire today. The team of six international observers will be joined by at least two dozen more in coming days.

Ultimately, the UN will seek to increase the number to 250.

The stakes couldn't be higher for the Syrian people as the international community continues its efforts to bring peace to their country.

The UN estimates that President Bashar al-Assad's forces have killed more than 9000 people in the 13 months since the start of a popular uprising, inspired by the Arab Spring, against his brutal regime.

The world has been forced to stand by and watch as Assad's soldiers battled protesters and army defectors alike with tanks and heavy weapons, firing on densely populated cities and indiscriminately killing men, women and children.

Attempts by Western powers to pass tough resolutions against Syria at the UN Security Council have been blocked by Assad's powerful allies - Russia and China.

Despite the continuing carnage, few world leaders have the appetite for military intervention because of Syria's strategic importance in arguably the world's most significant flashpoint. And Assad's army is a potent force that does not appear to have been significantly degraded by defections.

So, for now, UN-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan's six-point plan for peace is all the world has.

Unlike the punitive resolutions before the Security Council, his roadmap to peace in Syria does enjoy wide international support.

It calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from cities, daily ceasefires for the treatment of the wounded and the delivery of humanitarian aid, and talks between the government and opposition.

The Assad regime will no doubt keep shelling opposition strongholds and try to control the peace monitors but the world owes it to the Syrian people to give Annan all the support it can.

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