United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan says he "optimistic" that international talks in Geneva this weekend will end with "an acceptable result" for the Syrian peace process despite little evidence that this peace plan will do any better than the last one.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Annan and her counterparts from Russia, Britain, France, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, and Iraq on Saturday to discuss a new proposal that would set up a new "unity" government in Syria, giving opposition forces some influence over the country's affairs. However, the plan doesn't promise that Bashar al-Assad and his allies wouldn't be a part of that new government. (Because Russia won't support a plan that disposes him.) The talks also won't include ministers from Iran and Saudi Arabia — two of the biggest powers in the region and ones that could actually help implement any plan. And, much like the cease-fire that has been totally ignored for the last few months, the U.N. has no way to enforce it. Assad has punished his own people for more than a year and still has full control of his regime. Why would he give that up now?
In fact, he's already made it clear that he won't, saying yesterday that, "We will not accept any non-Syrian, non-national model, whether it comes from big countries or friendly countries." These comments came as 50 people were killed in suburub of the capital and two large bombs covered the city in think black smoke.
Annan is lifelong diplomat and, as a diplomat, he has to believe that sensible people can reach sensible solutions to difficult problems. But he's also been doing this long enough to realize how futile this particular effort is. At some point that optimism has to go away, but we wonder if he (or the rest of the international community) will ever be able to admit it.