UN observers in Syria could abandon mission
They have been so usesless this wouldn't be much of a shock. But it was thought that they would stay at least until the middle of July when the Security Council is scheduled to reauthorize their mission.
They might not even last that long.
UN monitors could be forced to abandon their mission in Syria in the face of escalating violence in the conflict between the regime and rebels, its commander signalled on Friday on another day of bloodshed and protests across the country.
The comments by General Robert Mood, the Norwegian who commands the 300-strong UN observer team, were further evidence of the collapse of the peace plan promoted by Kofi Annan on behalf of the UN and Arab League. In a week that has seen repeated warnings that Syria is in an open civil war there is still no alternative international initiative on offer.
Meanwhile the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was described by a senior Arab official in close touch with Damascus as "losing contact with reality", according to members of his own inner circle, and dependent on Russian financial aid.
The Syrian crisis is expected to be discussed in talks between the US president, Barack Obama, and Russia's Vladimir Putin on the margins of the G20 summit on Monday, diplomats said. Russia is seen as the only outside power capable of influencing Assad, its long-standing ally.
Tensions rose this week when the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, accused Russia of escalating the conflict by supplying attack helicopters to Syria. But it transpired that the aircraft had been refurbished in Russia and were being sent back. The two countries are also at odds over whether Iran, Assad's ally, should be part of efforts to bring peace to Syria.
The only useful function the observers are serving is in acting as witnesses to the massacres and brutality. Other than that, they are targets, and General Mood knows that. As the violence escalates, it is likely that they will pull back to Damascus and then leave the country to the tender mercies of Assad's bully boys.
A failed mission as part of a failed peace plan.