A team led by a Norwegian major general arrived Thursday in Damascus to negotiate the possible deployment of U.N. monitors for any cease-fire between Syrian troops and rebel forces.
Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for peace envoy Kofi Annan, reported the arrival and said the U.N. is already asking members to contribute 200 to 250 soldiers to monitor a cease-fire that officials hope would start April 10.
Annan has asked the Norwegian major-general, Robert Mood, to begin discussing with the Syrian authorities “the eventual deployment of this U.N. supervision and monitoring mission,” Fawzi said.
Such a contingent would first have to be authorized by the 15-nation Security Council.
I frankly wouldn't hold my breath that magically, just because of a date on a calendar, that the "rebel forces" (read: hired mercs) will lay down their weapons, and sing "Kumbyah", along with Syrian forces.
My suspicion is that Annan pushed al-Assad for this deadline for cessation of hostilities because such a deadline is not achievable.
And what happens, then, on the 11th of April, if there has been no substantive cease-fire? And what world player will be willing, if not eager, to act, even without a UN mandate?
Were I a betting woman, I would not bet against some kind of "shadow NATO engagement" to bring about regime change, but the kind of involvement which couldn't quite be pinned directly on NATO by a very angered China and Russia, which would, reasonably, see such an action as an "end-run" against the UN, and done without any UN mandate whatever.