France insists Assad end violence before talks
This is all well and good, except there really isn't much of a united opposition to Assad, and the dictator won't stop the violence anyway.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in an interview in Le Monde newspaper these were "red lines" for France and said he saw "a slight evolution" in the position of Russia, the most outspoken opponent of demands for regime change in Syria.
Russia has called for both government and opposition forces to agree a ceasefire and insisted there must be no precondition to a political dialogue, such as Assad's exit from power.
"I have two red lines. I cannot accept that we put the oppressors and victims in the same boat. The regime must initiate the cessation of hostilities," Juppe told Le Monde.
"The second red line: we cannot be satisfied with just a humanitarian and ceasefire resolution. There must be a reference to a political settlement based on the Arab League proposal."
U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who visited Assad in Syria, was to brief the U.N. Security Council via video link later on Friday.
Council diplomats say his assessment of the crisis will be crucial to an effort by the United States and Europe to pass a resolution that would ensure humanitarian aid workers access to besieged towns across the country.
"It's a nightmare. This regime has become mad. We back Kofi Annan to implement his mission, but we will not be fooled by the Syrians' manipulation," Juppe said.
"The Arab League plan does not foresee Bashar al-Ashad's departure. It would sideline him and, more exactly, designate his vice president to negotiate and start a transition. That is really the minimum."
Assad can afford to ignore all this posturing at the UN because at the moment, he is winning. But that may not last long. The Free Syrian Army is getting better organized and while too weak to challenge the military directly, they are becoming capable of making life very difficult for the Syrian government.
Whether that will convince Assad to eventually give up power will depend on the dictator's allies in the military and the government.