Kofi Annan Out As Syria Envoy, Cites Security Council 'Finger-Pointing' As One Reason

 @MayaErgas
on August 02 2012 4:01 PM
Syria - Annan
U.N. envoy Kofi Annan said the acceptance by Syria's government of his cease-fire plan is an “important initial step” to ending a deadly crackdown that began in March 2011. REUTERS

Kofi Annan's decision not to renew his mandate as the UN-Arab League's Joint Special Envoy to Syria at the end of August has raised the question of whether a peaceful solution to Syria's 17-month protest-turned-civil-war can ever be found.

Annan had been growing reportedly more and more frustrated over the past few months as violence in the country escalated and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad all but ignored Annan's proposed six-point peace plan.

In mid-July, China and Russia, allies of the Assad regime, vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the Syrian crisis that would have imposed sanctions on Syrian authorities who did not halt the violence. It was the third time those two countries had vetoed resolutions aimed at stopping the violence in the country.

Annan was vocal about his disappointment at the time, saying the council had failed "to take the strong and concentrated action he had urged and hoped for."

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva on Thursday, the former UN Secretary-General said that when he accepted the position five months ago, a post which "some called 'Mission Impossible,'" he said, "I believed it was a sacred duty to do whatever was in my power to help the Syrian people find a peaceful solution to this bloody conflict.

But, he continued, "the increasing militarization on the ground and the clear lack of unity in the Security Council have fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role.

"The bloodshed continues, most of all because of the Syrian government's ... continued refusal to implement the six-point plan, and also because of the escalating military campaign of the opposition, all of which is compounded by the disunity of the international community.

"At a time when the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council," he said.

Ban Ki-Moon, the current UN Secretary General, said that he and the Arab League are jointly searching for a successor, but had no word yet on who that might be.

"Kofi Annan deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments," Ban said in a statement, according to the BBC.

Ban also noted that the differences within the Security Council were an "an obstacle to diplomacy, making the work of any mediator vastly more difficult," and expressed his disappointment that the six-point peace plan had not been implement in Syria.

"Tragically, the spiral of violence in Syria is continuing," Ban said. "The hand extended to turn away from violence in favor of dialogue and diplomacy -- as spelled out in the six-point plan -- has not been taken, even though it still remains the best hope for the people of Syria."

"The world is full of crazy people like me," Annan joked, according to Reuters. "So don't be surprised if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can find someone who can do a better job than me."

Fighting in Aleppo has intensified in recent days, with another 60 people reported dead on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Reports also came out today saying U.S. President Barack Obama had signed a secret order earlier this year to allow for U.S. aid and support for Syrian rebels.

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