Wayne White, Middle
East Institute: Assad Will Not Change His Opposition Stance
April 4, 2012
Syrian forces have launched fresh
military operations just hours after the government said it had started
to withdraw troops from some cities in compliance with an international
Activists said Wednesday tanks were storming and shelling several towns
and villages. They said the operations were ongoing "from the Turkish
border in the northeast to Daraa in the south."
Several neighborhoods in the central city of Homs, a bastion of dissent
against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule, were under attack.
The assaults took place despite Assad's agreeing to an April 10 deadline
to implement a peace plan brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
The plan requires government forces to withdraw from towns and cities
and observe a cease-fire. Rebel fighters are to immediately follow by
ceasing all violence.
Also Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Western
and Arab nations against arming Syrian rebels, saying it would only
escalate hostilities. Speaking on a trip to Azerbaijan, Lavrov said
"even if the opposition is armed to the teeth, it wouldn't be able to
defeat government forces."
warned that a foreign military intervention would lead to even more
disastrous consequences for Syria, which has seen a yearlong uprising
against President Assad that has killed more than 9,000 people.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two Sunni-ruled nations, have backed the idea of
arming the opposition against Assad's Shi'ite-ruled government, but the
West remains opposed. Western nations moved instead to create a fund for
the rebels at a meeting in Istanbul.
Earlier, a spokesman for Annan announced that an advance U.N. team is
due to arrive in Syria by Thursday. Ahmad Fawzi told VOA the team would
work out the details of deploying international monitors to the country.
Middle East Institute scholar Wayne White said a possible peacekeeping
deployment and promises of a cease-fire from the Syrian leader are not
necessarily indications that the government's crackdown on dissent is
ending. White said he does not expect Assad to change his stance against