Pause in Violence Within U.N. Monitored Areas
While U.N. monitors have brought a lull of shelling to the Syrian opposition stronghold in Homs, elsewhere in the country Syrian forces have continued assaulting areas when monitors are not present. ”This U.N. observers thing is a big joke,” said activist and resident of Douma Mohammed Saeed. “Shelling stops and tanks are hidden when they visit somewhere, and when they leave, shelling resumes.” While Assad’s forces continue their assault on pockets of resistance the opposition has begun to target senior level military officers. In the past three months at least 10 senior officers, including several generals, have been assassinated.
Enlarging the observer mission would face increased risks, as the unarmed observers will have to depend on President Bashar al-Assad‘s troops for the security. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. stated the U.N. mission “will be deployed in numbers too small to cover the entire country but large enough to give rise to expectations that will be impossible to meet, if the Syrian government does not fulfil its commitments towards a sustained cessation of violence.”
Johan Galtung argues the U.N. is approaching the situation in Syria in a series of steps that have previously been met with little success: get rid of the number 1; cease-fire; negotiation; find a political solution. Galtung believes by reversing the order to first agreeing on a solution and subsequent negotiations to arrange the details could lead the leader to step down as they have helped facilitate a peaceful solution. While Galtung provides a concise list of goals that the different internal and external actors hope to achieve in Syria, with no clear solution in sight “Whoever wins will be deeply resented by the rest in a region so deeply divided”.