Syrian Ceasefire Shattered after Four Hours

It took only four hours for the ceasefire painstakingly negotiated by Lakhdar Brahimi to come undone. From the BBC:

The [Syrian Observatory for Human Rights], one of the most prominent groups monitoring Syrian casualties, says its reports are impartial. However, its information cannot be independently verified.

The BBC’s James Reynolds on the Turkey-Syria border says fighting has been going on throughout the day near the frontier.

The observatory said fighting began about four hours after the ceasefire began at a military base near Maaret al-Numan town, close to the main road between Damascus and Aleppo.

There were also sporadic clashes in suburbs of Damascus and the cities of Homs and Idlib.

But the car bomb in Damascus appears to have wrecked any lingering chance that the truce might take hold.

Footage of the aftermath showed several destroyed vehicles lying among rubble from badly damaged buildings.

State media blamed the attack on “terrorists”.

A few points here:

No one ever had high confidence that a ceasefire would work. Both sides at this point believe they have more to gain from fighting than by laying down their arms, if even temporarily. The Syrian opposition is too fractured to reliably be expected to observe a ceasefire. On top of that, there are distressing reports that foreign jihadis are pouring into the country to join the fight against Assad.  It would be certainly harder to convince religiously inspired foreigners, as opposed to nationalists, to respect a ceasefire.

Still, Lakhdar Brahimi deserves credit for trying. The humanitarian situation is abysmal and one of the key goals of this Eid ceasefire was too provide some space for humanitarian organizations to bring much needed relief to civilians caught in conflict.  What is needed now–as has been always needed — is the unanimous support of the Security Council behind a political solution to the conflict that lays out a post-Assad Syria. So long as the Security Council remains divided on this issue, there is very little hope that a meaningful political solution, let alone a ceasefire, can endure.