Secretary of State John Kerry warned Syria's government and its backers in Moscow and Tehran on Tuesday that they face an August deadline for starting a political transition to move President Bashar Assad out, or they risk the consequences of a new U.S. approach toward ending the 5-year-old civil war.
Sadly, Kerry couldn't pour a credible threat out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel:
But given the various, unfulfilled U.S. threats throughout the Arab country's conflict — from declaring Assad's days "numbered" five years ago to promising military action if chemical weapons were used — it was unclear what effect Kerry's ultimatum might have.
Yes, it is unclear. The Russians and their Syrian and Iranian allies might laugh themselves sick or they might just snort with contempt.
If Assad goes there will be trouble. And if he stays it will be double.
UPDATE: A ceasefire is in place, for what it is worth:
A 48-hour ceasefire took hold Thursday in Syria's battered second city of Aleppo after President Bashar al-Assad's regime and rebel forces gave in to mounting diplomatic pressure.
I assume the Russians figured that Assad could use a couple more days to prepare for the assault, so why not pretend to give in to Kerry?
Because seriously, does anybody believe this?
Secretary of State John F. Kerry vowed Tuesday not to allow Syria’s largest city and onetime moderate opposition stronghold of Aleppo to fall to the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad — even if that means abandoning the fragile cease-fire that U.S. officials have been trying to uphold in the war-torn nation.
The Dignified Rant has acquired video of Secretary Kerry standing on the path to Aleppo, denying Assad the right to attack.
'Tis but an unbelievably small flesh wound.
Truly, "None shall pass!" will stir the hearts of rebels (and diplomats) for decades to come.
UPDATE: Strategypage gives an overview.
UPDATE: And a short ceasefire is a chance to blame Assad's opponents for the breakdown of said fictional ceasefire:
Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah on Friday said Saudi Arabia was causing the collapse of ceasefires in Syria and thwarting peace talks by stepping up support to armed groups fighting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
So there you go.