Kofi Annan, the United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria, still believes in a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict and implementation of a UN-backed plan despite the passing of a ceasefire deadline proposed in it on Tuesday. The six point peace plan brokered by Annan called on the Syrian government and opposition forces to cease conflicts. Both sides appeared to agree with conditions, yet heavy casualties and hostilities were reported to take place in city of Homs on Monday.
Thirteen bloody months have passed since the Syrian uprising began, bringing death tolls to more than 9,000. The international community has demand president Bashar al-Asaad step down to no avail, and the six-point plan seems to be the last exhausted peaceful proposal put forward by the international community.
But by providing the Syrian opposition with support, the West could ignite ethnic and religious clashes which could create a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. The Sunni majority would try to use an opportunity to take control over the country by attacking the minority Shiites; this could then drag into Iran, a country which strategically pursues its own interests by using Syria as a bridge to support the Shiite community in Lebanon and Assad regimes in Syria. Further, the war between the two communities would have a significant impact on the Christian minority in in the region, leaving an unprecedented number of refugees seeking asylum in neighboring Lebanon with bigger Christian community and Western countries. On the other hand Saudi Arabia would be pulled in to support majority Sunnis. A more likely scenario concerning refugees is that Turkey could see an overflow of Kurds from Syria. Turkey might also have problems with Iran if they let in NATO forces to use its territory to attack Syria. Indeed Iran has already warned Turkey to exclude such option, which they say would lead to the assault on American and NATO bases in Turkey by Iran.
The role of Russia also should be taken into account. The loss would have a notorious impact on Russia’s foreign policy. Yet Russia could still follow through on calls by the Syrian National Council to "first use your influence on the regime in order to stop the killings immediately. A negotiated transition can only come afterwards, and will need to encompass the stepping aside of the head of the regime.” Russia still has a chance to protect its international image.
And ironically, while major figures including William Hague and Hillary Clinton claim that they would give financial shelter to opposition groups which ferociously kill people in a similar manner to Assad’s troops, they could actually foster a new regime which would jeopardize the country’s stability.