Syria Crisis: Kofi Annan Resigns As Peace Envoy, Complains Of Name-Calling At UN
Former United Nations secretary-general, Mr Kofi Annan has resigned as the international envoy on Syria, with effect from the end of August. At a press conference in Geneva today, Annan complained of “finger-pointing and name-calling”. UN seceretary-general Ban Ki-moon says he is looking for someone to replace Annan. Part of his speech through which he announced his resignation today reads:
“Five months ago, I was asked to take on the role of joint special envoy for Syria, in order to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis, an end to the killings of civilians, the human rights abuses, and a path towards a political transition.
I accepted this task, which some called “Mission Impossible” – for 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.
The severity of the humanitarian costs of the conflict, and the exceptional threats posed by this crisis to international peace and security, justified the attempts to secure a peaceful transition to a political settlement, however daunting the challenge.
The increasing militarisation 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.
Yet the bloodshed continues, most of all because of the Syrian government’s intransigence, and continuing 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 we need – when the Syrian people desperately need action – there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council.
The Geneva communiqué, endorsed by the action group for Syria on 30 June, provided an international agreement on a framework for a political transition. This should have been automatically endorsed by the security council and something the international community should have built on.
Without serious, purposeful and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process.
You have to understand: as an envoy, I can’t want peace more than the protagonists, more than the security council or the international community for that matter.
I have therefore informed the secretary-general of the UN and secretary-general of the Arab League today that I do not intend to continue my mission when my mandate expires at the end of August.
My central concern, from the start – and I think I mentioned it to you – has been the welfare of the Syrian people. Syria can still be saved from the worst calamity – if the international community can show the courage and leadership necessary to compromise on their partial interests for the sake of the Syrian people – for the men, women and children who have already suffered far too much.
I would like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to both the secretary-general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and secretary-general ElAraby of the Arab League for their unflinching support and the grace and cordiality that they extended to me, having given me the opportunity to serve the cause of peace once again.”
Annan’s departing advice to the world
In an article entitled “My departing advice on how to save Syria”, just released, Annan wrote:
“Only a united international community can compel both sides to engage in a peaceful political transition, he says. “But a political process is difficult, if not impossible, while all sides – within and without Syria – see opportunity to advance their narrow agendas by military means. International division means support for proxy agendas and the fuelling of violent competition on the ground.”
He concludes:”It is clear that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office. The greater focus, however, must be on measures and structures to secure a peaceful long-term transition to avoid a chaotic collapse …
None of this is possible, however, without genuine compromise on all sides. The stalemate means that everyone must shift: the government, opposition, international as well as regional powers …
Syria can still be saved from the worst calamity. But this requires courage and leadership, most of all from the permanent members of the security council, including from Presidents Putin and Obama.
Is ours an international community that will act in defence of the most vulnerable of our world, and make the necessary sacrifices to help? The coming weeks in Syria will tell.”
Anna complains of ‘finger-pointing and name-calling’
At an impromptu press conference, Kofi Annan said he accepted his mediating role when it seemed the international community, led by the UN security council, could help end the violence in Syria, enforce a ceasefire and bring about a political transition.
But he told reporters he cannot go on when the council provides no backing for his role, particularly because of the standoff between its five veto-wielding members: Russia and China on one side, the US, Britain and France on the other.
In remarks quoted by AP, Annan said: “When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the security council. It is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government and also the opposition to take the steps to bring about the political process. As an envoy, I can’t want peace more than the protagonists, more than [the] security council or the international community, for that matter.
AP adds that Annan said the failed six-point plan commonly referred to as the Annan plan is, in fact, the security council’s plan.He did not rule out the idea of a successor being appointed by the current UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, since “the world is full of crazy people like me, so don’t be surprised if someone else decides to take it on.”
Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said Russia regrets the decision to step down, according to the RIA Novosti. But Churkin also said he was encouraged by Ban’s search for a replacement.