Citing the safety of unarmed observers, the UN has suspended its Syria monitoring effort. It's the first step toward crafting a new international approach.
Recent history in Iraq and Libya shows that the departure of a tyrant can lead to a deterioration in stability and an increase in human suffering. In Syria, a Yemen-style transition (dictator forced into exile to be replaced by a transition figure) may be the best possible outcome.
At a State Department briefing yesterday, a reporter asked why the US would not intervene if it knew massacres were likely to occur. The response: 'Do you have a specific proposal in mind?'
The conflict in Syria is now a serious regional problem, requiring – ideally – a regional solution. That's why the Kofi Annan suggestion to create a Syria 'contact group' of world and regional powers is a good starting point. But such a group would also face tremendous obstacles.