Temporary cease fire in Syria? Maybe

New York Times:

Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy trying to broker a peace deal in Syria, announced on Wednesday a tentative cease-fire between the two sides to mark the main Muslim holiday of the year, but numerous do-it-yourself aspects of the plan immediately called into question whether it would quiet any fighting.

Open uncertainties included the time frame of what was designed to be a temporary cease-fire for the Id al-Adha, the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, expected to start Friday for much of the Muslim world. Different nations and different sects can observe the holiday for anywhere from one to five days, however, so it was not clear exactly how long any truce should last.

On a more basic level, it was not quite clear who would respect it among the warring parties. Syrian state television announced that Damascus was studying the proposal and would make an announcement on Thursday, according to wire service reports. Various leaders among the fractious rebels issued their own statements saying they doubted it would hold.

It was also unclear that there would be anyone around to police it - the United Nations withdrew its observers last summer and would probably not be able to deploy new ones in 48 hours.

Mr. Brahimi seemed to be relying on the fact that both sides in the civil war, which grew out of a peaceful protest movement that started in March 2011, would respect it all on their own.

Speaking at a news conference in Cairo, he said that the Syrian government was poised to announce the cease-fire and that the rebel factions he was in contact with had promised to respect it as well.

Any lull in the fighting would allow critically needed aid to reach some of the estimated 2 million displaced civilians in Syria, so let's hope it happens.

But that's all it is - a hope. There are too many rebel factions to know if they will all respect the truce and if one of them doesn't you can bet Assad won't respect it either. So in the end, this is probably going to be one more futile gesture by the international community who, without clear American leadership, is stumbling around in the dark trying to deal with the tragedy.

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