By Aryn Baker, TIME
Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations now tasked with finding a solution to the year-long crisis that has engulfed Syria, returned from Damascus on Sunday with little more than vague words of ill-placed optimism. “You have to start by stopping the killings and the misery and the abuses …. and give time (for a) political settlement,” he told reporters, saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad needed to embrace change and reform. “I have urged the president to heed the African proverb which says you cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail.”
It would appear that Assad doesn’t think African proverbs translate very well in the Middle East. Syrian army troops poured into the rebel stronghold of Idlib over the weekend, threatening a repeat of the carnage visited on Homs last month where hundreds were killed, thousands left homeless and parts of the city annihilated by sustained shelling. International reaction has been defined by despair, frustration and paralysis as the death toll exceeds 7,500.