Syria’s key to real change

Rami Khouri writes: The UN action in support of the call from special envoy Kofi Annan for a total ceasefire in Syria on 12 April is, like all security council presidential statements, a lot like a new year’s resolution – sincere, grounded in real needs and aspirations, but really difficult to implement.

Of the several different but linked issues at play here, three will determine its fate: the capacity of the security council to intervene in a sovereign state’s affairs; the Syrian government’s sense of its own durability; and the capacity of the opposition to challenge and change the Damascus ruling elite. And my impression is that the ability of the opposition groups to form a more coherent movement will be the crucial factor, drawing on the substantial support they have generated in the Middle East and around the world.

I say this because recent history suggests that the iron will of both the security council and stubborn sovereign governments tend to balance out each other. If military force is employed, as in Kosovo or Libya, global coalitions of states can oust governments. Barring that, only the determination, efficacy and sacrifice of authentic indigenous movements for freedom and citizens’ rights, teamed with global political support, can topple governments and usher in more democratic rule, as perhaps Burma demonstrates.

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