Rebel militias are reportedly improving their armaments, particularly antitank weapons, and growing in confidence, even as they abandon hope in prospects for negotiating a credible peace. Growing rebel capacities coupled with the fact that so many people remain willing to kill for the regime underscore the fact that ending the fighting may require more than simply democratic elections and the right to protest. Although nobody’s talking in those terms right now, the ghosts of Bosnia serve up a reminder that the conflict that roiled the Balkans for four years in the early 1990s was resolved only through the communal guarantees and ethnic partitions formalized in the Dayton Accord and the deployment of 40,000 NATO troops on the ground to keep the sides apart…

Moscow is pressing its own ideas on how to deal with the failure of the Annan plan to gain traction. It believes the fighting can only be stopped by a consensus of all external parties who are backing the various combatants. Annan concurs, having asked all governments with influence to “twist arms” to achieve a cease-fire. To that end, Moscow has proposed holding an international conference on Syria of the Western powers, Russia and China, Arab League countries, Turkey and Iran. The Obama Administration balked at the inclusion of Tehran in negotiations over Syria — indeed, many in Washington see Syria through the prism of the U.S. conflict with Iran, advocating Assad’s ouster precisely in order to weaken Iran by eliminating its most important Arab ally. But the Russians are insisting that any serious attempt to resolve the crisis in Syria would need to involve all stakeholders, and that means Iran, which is even more intimately aligned with the regime than Moscow is, would have to be at the table. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to visit Tehran on Wednesday to discuss the Syrian situation as well as next week’s nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers in Moscow.