Annan postures, Syrians die, Washington knits

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Kofi Annan delivers a speech during the ceremonial of the Freedom Prize of the Max Schmidheiny-Stiftung in 2006.

Article Highlights

  • Opposition estimates that 1,000 have been killed in the one week walk-up to the Annan plan. @dpletka

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  • Who are #Obama and #Clinton fronting for? What’s their reason to continue to support a plan they were aware would fail?

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  • The devil we know is worse than the devil we don’t know, and the devil we know is also #Iran’s greatest ally

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Former UN SecGen Kofi Annan just wrapped a breathtakingly cynical press conference in Turkey, insisting his peace plan for Syria is not dead despite new demands from the Assad regime and failure to withdraw from major city centers agreed to in the Annan plan. Doubling down on his touching faith in the Assad team of killers, Annan is sure he has not failed: “We still have time between now and the 12th (Thursday) to stop violence,” he said. “I appeal to all, the government in the first place …” Thursday was supposed to mark the ceasefire on the ground that followed today’s (theoretical) withdrawal of government troops and heavy weapons from urban centers. The opposition estimates that 1,000 have been killed in the one week walk-up to the Annan plan.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, the Obama administration continues to observe the Syrian massacre with equanimity. Why the harsh judgment? Because while Annan should be bowed with shame for his role in giving cover to Assad to shed more blood, we must recognize that he is fronting for a myriad group, some of which – Russia and China – would love to see Assad’s stained hands holding the reins for years to come.  But who are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fronting for? What’s their reason to continue to support a plan they surely were aware would fail? What’s their reason to prolong the massacres? Is there a reason that they insist upon non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition? And if they are willing to allow Saudi Arabia and Qatar to arm the opposition, why are they so enthused about subcontracting U.S. foreign policy to these Wahhabi dictatorships?

It’s been said many times already, but let’s say it again. What’s needed are:

• Safe corridors for Syrians to leave their country
• Safe cities for civilians in which they can shelter
• Arms for the Free Syrian Army, which is far better organized than many wish to admit.
• Overt support for the Syrian National Council, including assistance with a transition plan, reconciliation among parties, a new constitution and more
• NATO air support

Why do this? Because the devil we know is worse than the devil we don’t know. Because the devil we know is also Iran’s greatest ally.  Because it is wrong to watch the murder of thousands – so many children included – and sit on our hands. Because we have an interest in Assad’s fall. It’s just not that complicated.

Danielle Pletka is the Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

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About the Author



  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.

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