by Ray Fleming

The decision yesterday of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to step down as the United Nations--Arab League peace envoy to Syria after almost six months was not a surprise.

The Six Point Peace Plan which he quickly formulated would probably have worked had it not been for the deceit of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, in saying that he accepted it but then failing to do so in any of its requirements, starting with a cease fire.

At that time a decisive commitment to the Plan by Assad -- for instance by acting on its call for an end to the use of heavy weapons in civilian areas -- would probably have met a similar response from the rebel forces, but his unwillingness to do so gave them the perfect excuse to maintain and expand their activities.

Mr Annan's resignation as Syria increasingly seems to be in the throes of a civil war is timely.
His Peace Plan is in shreds and any attempt by him to address a changed situation would probably be counter-productive because he has begun to lose the confidence of some Arab states.

Nonetheless he was right yesterday to press the urgent need for outline proposals to ensure that an eventual peace -- whether from a one-sided victory or mutual exhaustion -- would not lead to a chaotic collapse and extensive suffering for all Syrian people.

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