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Terrorism & Security

Annan and Bashar al-Assad agree on 'new approach' to Syrian conflict (+video)

Support for further negotiated solutions with the Assad regime in Syria appears to be waning among world powers, however.

By Staff writer / July 9, 2012

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows United Nations-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Anan (l.) meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria, Monday, July 9. International envoy Annan announced today that he and Bashar al-Assad reached an agreement on a new approach to ending the violence in Syria.

SANA/AP

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Middle East Editor

Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog. 

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Kofi Annan, the United Nations special envoy to Syria, announced today that he and Bashar al-Assad reached an agreement on a new approach to ending the violence in Syria.

But support for a negotiated solution with the regime to the Syrian crisis seems to be waning, even among those world powers who steadfastly oppose outside intervention. This could leave Mr. Annan with only the regime and its supporters behind his diplomatic efforts, warned an editorial in the Lebanon-based Daily Star today.

Annan has not yet disclosed details about about the plan, saying only that he would be taking the plan to the opposition next, Reuters reports.

The new agreement comes on the heels of Annan's acknowledgement this weekend to French newspaper Le Monde that his previous plan had failed. “Evidently, we haven’t succeeded,” said Annan, according to Bloomberg. 

“Annan was admitting the obvious,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday in Tokyo. It “should be a wake-up call to everyone. The future to me should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime: their days are numbered.”

But acquiescence from the opposition may be difficult to obtain – the Syrian National Council, the main opposition umbrella group, criticized Mr. Annan for even meeting with Mr. Assad. An SNC statement said that Syrians "cannot justify these steps," referring to Annan's decision to meet with Assad but not attend a recent opposition conference in Paris, despite a death toll of almost 6,000 since Annan's failed peace plan went into effect in April, The Telegraph reports. 

And while the regime's backing of Annan's efforts give it viability on that side, it could hurt Annan's efforts to get others to sign on to the plan. Assad praised the envoy's efforts and heaped blame on others for its failure in an interview with a German television station last week, according to Reuters. 

“We know that [Annan] is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan,” Assad said. “The biggest obstacle is that many countries do not even want this plan to succeed so they offer political support and continue to provide the terrorists in Syria with arms and money."

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