Kofi Annan’s mediation in Syria has largely failed. The Assad regime continues to flout a tenuous ceasefire, drawing more intense international condemnation. The New York Times is reporting that the rhetoric is heating up:
International pressure for a harsher line on Syria escalated Thursday, with the president of France calling the Syrian leader a liar, the American secretary of state moving a step closer to endorsing use of military force, and the head of the United Nations accusing the Syrian government of failing to carry out nearly every element of a peace plan that went into effect a week ago.
Elsewhere, top American defense officials acknowledged that more must be done to help Syrians. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee:
We have solid military relationships with every country on Syria’s border. . . Should we be called, our responsibility is clear: provide the secretary of defense and the president with options, and these options will be judged in terms of their suitability, their feasibility and their acceptability.
As pressure for action builds in the West, it’s important to note that the desire to get rid of Assad is as much about weakening Iran as it is about improving Syria. The Gulf sheikdoms would also welcome the hit Iran would take to its power and prestige if its greatest ally in the Middle East went down.But however much we’re tempted, we should never forget that further intervention could easily lead to extended factional fighting or the rise of radical groups, as in Lebanon not long ago.