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By Lucky Gold
(CNN) – The massacre in Houla has been perceived by some as “the tipping point” in Syria – an atrocity so horrific that it will surely lead to the end of the Assad regime. But Syrian President Bashar Assad remains in power and the opposition rebels are asking the world to declare the peace initiative of international envoy Kofi Annan officially dead.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, isn’t prepared to pull the plug: “Clearly it is on life support but it isn’t dead, yet.”
Appearing Thursday on Amanpour, Ambassador Grant remained committed to the process: “We are directing all our efforts into trying to make it work. But I think to make it work we’re going to need to increase the international pressure on the Syrian regime… so that they begin to comply with the six point plan that Kofi Annan has set out. But it isn’t dead yet.”
A tissue of lies
He insisted that UN observers play a crucial role in documenting the abuses of the Assad regime: “We’re looking all the time at accountability,” he said. “We’ve had teams in the refugee camps in Lebanon and Turkey, getting eyewitness reports, so that we can eventually hold to account those who are responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities against the Syrian people.”
Among those atrocities is Houla and Ambassador Grant praised the role UN observers played in bringing that incident to light: “To be honest, we would not know exactly what had happened in Houla had it not been for the observers able to go there, to demonstrate that there had been tank tracks, that there had been use of heavy artillery, that there had been a massacre by the Syrian regime. Otherwise, people would give some credence to this report that the Syrian government has come out with today claiming that it was nothing to do with them. We know that’s a tissue of lies partly because the UN observers are able to say so.”
But not at any cost
In the meantime, the UN waits to hear from Kofi Annan: “If he says ‘I have reached the end of the road;’ if he says ‘I can no longer offer you any chance that this will lead to a political dialogue,’ then…we’re going to have to look to other options.”
By “other options” does he mean military intervention? Ambassador Grant said, “I don’t think anything is being ruled out. But the whole point of what we’re trying to do at the UN is to maintain an international consensus. And pressure. Don’t’ forget that for nine months we were unable to do anything in the Security Council. We tried two resolutions which were vetoed by Russia and China. Now we want to try and preserve that unity if we can, but not at any cost. And if Russia and China are not prepared to play their part in raising the pressure on the regime… then obviously we’ll have to look elsewhere.”