The application of force against his opponents is Assad's go-to means of keeping control, just as it was for his father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad. With at least 9,000 Syrians dead from the fighting, and scores in detention, where many have been tortured, it's hard to see the calls for his overthrow dying down. And if he really does give up the use of political terror against his enemies, the chorus demanding his demise will probably grow louder still.
There are already strong signs that Annan is not going to get his way on the cease-fire. The daily Al-Watan, linked to Syria's government, quoted an unnamed government official as saying "there is no... deadline" for pulling troops out of cities. Opposition activists said that tanks remain active in Deraa today, despite government claims to the contrary, and said dozens have died in ongoing fighting. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 62 Syrians were killed across the country yesterday.
Syrian opposition figures aren't the only ones who don't share the UN's optimism. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said Assad "is deceiving us" and warned of a push for tougher international action against Syria. The UN is currently trying to negotiate the dispatch of 250 or so unarmed military observers to determine if a cease-fire is achieved. Mr. Juppé said further steps will be considered at the UN Security Council if Syria doesn't allow observers in soon.