Dead for months - possibly on arrival - the UN's plan is ironically forcing its previous secretary-general into submission while its intended target grinds onward. Annan himself deserves a limited amount of blame for this calamity, mainly for meeting so cordially with a murderously delusional Bashar al-Assad. Syria's "Mission Impossible," as he referred to it during Thursday's statements, was thrust upon him and required the engagement of all parties, regardless of their hostility. Maybe Annan will produce a hail mary agreement before his clock officially expires on August 30th. If not, he speculates that, in a world "full of crazy people like me," his replacement could step up and "do a better job."
U.S. officials also claim that "we’re going to continue full ahead with our strategy," however the UN's plan needs more than a facial lift to succeed. As long as foreign powers remain bent on controlling Syria's revolution and its aftermath, the entire situation is doomed to continue spiraling downward.
Before the UN Security Council had passed Resolution 2014 in October 2011, the White House and other allied governments were already busy copying the blueprints onto Syria's 4th generation battleground. Resolution 2014 would approve a single-candidate referendum in Yemen, replacing 33-year dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh with his 18-year vice president Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, and grant Saleh immunity in return. A two-year transitional period, including a military restructure and "national dialogue," is scheduled to culminate with an open presidential election. This plan has yielded countless positives and negatives for Yemenis; although the threat of civil war has temporarily lifted and Hadi replaced many Saleh loyalists, fundamental divisions between the government, diverse political opposition, revolutionaries, tribal authorities and foreign powers remain outstanding.
Unfortunately, due to the ambitions of certain internal and external powers, the odds of these issues being bridged through November's dialogue are low. Once the Obama administration and King Abdullah's inner circle realized that they could drop Saleh for Hadi, thereby increasing their hegemony in the country, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was employed to maintain a controlled status quo in Yemen. The bulk of Washington and Riyadh's counterrevolution has rolled out under the specter of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), despite the fact that their own operations are contributing to its growth, and U.S. counterterrorism operations have further escalated since Hadi's ascendancy in February.
Many of Yemen's revolutionaries do not agree with Resolution 2014's terms.
One can easily understand (on top of the Iranian angle) why the two powers attempted to hoist "Yemen's model" onto Syria, and why al-Assad's allies saw the same opportunity to control Syria's transition. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wasted no time lobbying the exchange, telling a GCC ministerial in early November, "The Russian position has been embodied in the Security Council resolution on Yemen adopted a few days ago unanimously." Undeterred by this suspiciously mutual agreement, the White House held out an empty hope through multiple Russian statements of support and a UN proposal that didn't explicitly call for al-Assad's resignation.
As recently as May’s G-8 meetings, President Barack Obama himself lobbied the "Yemenskii Varient" to Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.
Leaving aside the vast situational differences between Yemen and Syria, along with the sputtering state of Yemen's transition, external conditions automatically torpedoed a cross-pollination of political designs. Unlike Yemen's agreement, which enjoyed unanimous approval in the UN Security Council, Syria's foreign matrix has been divided from the revolution's beginning. Each side is simply trying to outmaneuver the other through international blocs and their various proposals, whereas the other permanent members of the UN Security Council stood to profit in Yemen by obediently falling behind America's lead.
“Things fell apart in New York,” Annan concluded on Thursday. “The increasing militarization on the ground (in Syria) and the clear lack of unity in the Security Council have fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role.”
This intensifying netwar between al-Bashar's international allies and enemies is once again manifesting in a tragically ridiculous war of rhetoric. Having defended Annan's mission in order to stall, a process that has enabled the deaths of thousands, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Annan "a very respectable person, a brilliant diplomat and a very decent man, so it's really a shame." White House officials chose similar language for Annan personally, but openly implied that Moscow and Beijing are responsible for Syria's political stalemate.
"Those vetoes," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, "as we've said repeatedly, were highly regrettable, and place both Russia and China on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the Syrian people. Very unfortunate."
Thus Washington publicly expects Moscow to accept Yemen's "model" in Syria when both perceive a "transition" as manipulative. This strategy is far from the "realistic" plan that the Obama administration defends so righteously - a counterrevolution that no diplomat is able to conceal.