The central question facing the world in dealing with the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is: “would you buy a new or used car from this guy?” UN representative Kofi Annan has been attempting to work in a cooperative manner with the Syrian dictator and is willing to accept his promises–provided they are carried out. Some Syrian opponents of the regime blame Annan for being naive enought to actually think Assad means what he says about seeking a ceasefire. “I have received government assurances they will respect a ceasefire” says Annan.
In one respect, Annan is taking a reasonable gamble. He continues to offer evidence of respecting the word of Assad. This has even led Syria’s supporter, Russia, to now comment there is need to carry out a ceasefire. Is there a clever madness in the Annan approch which apparently wants to box in Assad so he HAS to agree to a ceasefire?
Of course, the unanswered question is: what happens if there IS a ceasefire? What next?