Here are some more ideas for Annan on Syria.
- Parts of the opposition are not really committed to a negotiated solution. Instead they want to go back to "peaceful" demonstrations and actions to a achieve a Tunisian-style revolution. The government is right to consider that unacceptable: this would be mob rule. This needs to be communicated clearly. The Annan Plan allows demonstrations, but there is a big difference between demonstrations to highlight popular demands and demonstrations to overthrow a government.
- There are still people who openly defy the armistice. These include several split-offs from the FSA that openly have stated that they do not recognize or follow the armistice. These people are still attacking inside Syria and withdrawing for resupply and recovery towards Turkey. Turkey should openly distance itself from those people, it should transfer any refugee with sympathies in this direction towards some refugee camp far from the Syrian border and it should prevent any fighter from those groups who comes to Turkey for rest or recovery from returning to Syria.
- A truce is about trust. No matter how peaceful someone is he will draw his gun when he thinks the other side is about to attack him. And if he has been shot at he will shoot back. A lot of this trust is local and for that reason the UN should organize local talks between FSA and Syrian Army commanders. These should only be about the truce and address all the little violations that threaten to destabilize it. Such negotiations are about establishing trust and collaboration - not about trapping one or the other party into making commitments that it later finds it cannot hold.
- Both parties - and specially the opposition - will try to avoid responsibility by claiming that some attacks by their side were done by splinter groups outside their control. This is a very destructive approach. Each side should be held responsible for any support that it provides to those splinter groups, including providing shelter and passage.
- Army withdrawal from the cities can only work if the opposition holds back too. You can not expect Assad and the Syrian army to surrender those city areas that under its control - where often the population does not support the opposition - to opposition control.
- Demonstrations - although allowed under the truce - are not helpful. In present-day Syria demonstrations are inevitably linked to one or the other party. And as by now both parties have lots of blood on their hands they will be seen by the other side as provocative.
- Put more urgency in the start of political negotiations. This is the main task of the mission and I find it very disappointing that until it is hardly mentioned. They should be talked about all the time and anyone why tries to obstruct them should be openly criticized.
- It is rather difficult to maintain a truce in a situation where there are no clear borders separating the parties. So don't hold the negotiations hostage to the inevitable incidents but rather use the political process to build the trust that will reduce the violations.
- Negotiations should be about content and not about formula like elections. Minimal opposition demands are the return of exiles and the release of political prisoners. Minimal government demands are a peaceful transition, guaranteed minority rights, equality and no revenge. These kinds of issues should be addressed. Having only lofty talks about broad terms like "elections" and "freedom" will allow both parties to hide their real intentions and is a recipe for disaster. Democracy is about every citizen having some rights and some influence on his fate. If it becomes a dictatorship of the majority it has been wrongly desiged for the country involved.